“And the Lord shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”
– MATTHEW, Chapter 25, Verse 40
Christmas is a very interesting time of the year because of the contradictions involved with the season. On the one hand, the celebration is a Christian one, focused on the humble birth of the Christ Savior, emphasizing that when God the Father sent His Only-Begotten Son to redeem mankind from sin, He designed it so that His Son was born in a wretched stable in Bethlehem surrounded by animals. Jesus Christ was born in a stable because there was no room for His parents at the Bethlehem inn. On the other hand, the Christmas season has become a period of very intense business and economic activity of all kinds, while on the family level citizens are driven to clean and refurbish their homes while preparing ample food and drink for the extended holiday season. Christmas is the most frenzied time of work in the entire calendar year, and nowadays “Christmas” lasts for several weeks.
A couple weeks ago, we discussed the fact that capitalism had become identified with Christianity somewhat by default, because the philosophical option to capitalism, atheistic communism, had condemned God and religion in all their manifestations. But capitalism is a cutthroat economic philosophy, and its more hard line adherents celebrate that cutthroat attitude. Hard line capitalists refer to more moderate capitalists as “bleeding heart liberals.” This is how the Republicans in the United States, the Republican Party having become the extreme capitalist political party, refer to the Democrats, who are more moderate capitalists.
In a way, the Republicans are honest. They do not pretend to care about the poor and the suffering and the losers. The Republicans believe that no-holds-barred capitalism is the real nature of human existence, and that out of that fierce competition there will always emerge winners and losers. The Republicans believe that losers should not be mollycoddled and encouraged in any form of social welfare programming, while they extol the winners, cold-blooded and cold-hearted as they are, as the heroes who have made capitalism the dynamic and successful development philosophy that it is.
Most of you now know that the territory of the United States of America originally belonged to Native American tribes, before the Europeans began to arrive, first in sailing ships and then in steamships. The Europeans came in wave after wave, and eventually they swamped and displaced the Native Americans with numbers, conquered them with violence, and seized the land of America for themselves. This is not a narrative for which the Republican capitalists make any kind of apology or express any kind of regret. They see it as simply the case that the Native Americans couldn’t hold on to their territory, so the Europeans took it. Story done.
The Democrats believe that capitalism should have a heart, and that the less fortunate are also human beings, deserving of attention and concern. So the Democrats run governments in America which spend federal money on various social welfare programs, and the Democrats often interfere in the economy to protect the masses of the people from the excessive greed of the Goliath capitalists, such as those on Wall Street.
The Republicans believe that government should not be interfering in the marketplace. Once a form of economic war can be the order of the day, the system will be totally energetic and competitive. The strong will emerge and rule, as they should, while the weak will be eliminated, as they deserve to be. The Republican view is Darwinian – survival of the fittest, at home and abroad.
The discourse between the Republicans and the Democrats has become complicated because the Democrats basically support abortion, homosexual rights, and controversial individual freedoms, while most Republicans condemn abortion and the gay lifestyle. But, we can’t go into that aspect of the differences between the Republicans and the Democrats in this essay, because that would have us here the whole day.
In His teachings as recorded in the New Testament, Jesus Christ focused on the poor and the downtrodden of the earth. These were the people who would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said. Christ specifically declared that it would be very difficult for the rich to enter that Kingdom of Heaven. But, most Christians are desirous of becoming rich. How you figure?
We are not here to lament and criticize the commercialization of Christmas. At its core, the intense economic activity of the Christmas season involves a focus on enjoying an event which deserves celebration – the birth of Christ. The economic activity is intense because, not only does one have to organize for the celebration, one has to accumulate and store enough to carry on through the days afterwards. In fact, there are business people who will tell you that if they don’t make it at Christmas, and make it in such a way as to survive January and February,then “dawg eat denh supper.”
So, there’s no getting away from the intense economic activity. There’s no getting away from the competition. This is what it is at Christmas. What we do want to say to the Belizean people is this, that party politics dominates our lives in Belize. This is so because of the size of the financial budgets which elected governments control. In Belize, elected governments are very, very powerful: they make people and they break them. What we have seen recently is that Belizean citizens who are known to be cold-blooded, cold-hearted capitalists, have begun to offer themselves as political candidates. We, the people, have to bring pressure on such people to tell us what it is exactly that they believe and want to implement philosophically. There are too many vicious predators who hide under the clothing of the UDP and the PUP. This is madness.
So, what does this have to do with Christmas and its contradictions? There is nothing we can do about what Christmas has become. But, we submit, there should be something that we, the people, can do about what our political process is becoming. Christ said that not everyone who cried, “Lord, Lord,” would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It must be that we, the people, examine the personal philosophies of these candidates who are crying UDP and PUP. What do they really mean? Some practice the very antithesis of Christianity in their personal lives, at the same time that their political parties cry out how devoted they are to Christian teachings. There are some hypocrites about, Belizeans. Belize is a small place. We know them, and we can see them.
Days after His gloriously humble birth, Christ’s parents had to flee with him into Egypt. In Belize, we have Herodians in both the UDP and the PUP. When did party politics become bigger in Belize than the teachings of Christ? We Belizeans have nowhere to run. This Christmas, sort out the contradictions. Seek the true vision of Christ. It is written.