It’s three hours past midnight on December 25, 2010 and I decide to liberate Christmas from the habits and memories of childhood that surround this festival. Of course cakes and ale, crib and carols, appam and stew and the lunch spread I would not give up. But surely Christmas is more than all that, I tell myself.
What is it? Why is it what it is?
I pause and think – deeply.
And realize that Christmas is a celebration of love. Love born in a stable in Bethlehem some two thousand odd years ago, and culminated on the cross at Gogotha. Greater love this no man has than he who lays down his life for his friends.
It was a love that revolutionized human thinking. Guess I should qualify the term ‘human’ to European.
The love story from Bethlehem to Golgotha showcases a love that is
It’s a love that negates the ego.
The brutal civilizations of Europe did not understand this love fully then. It does not understand it today too. Nevertheless, it drove home some concepts superficially, and thus the violent games in the massive arenas of the “great ancient civilizations” eventually lost their legitimacy. The idea of human rights was sown in the European minds, though these rights continued to be violated.
This is what Christianization of Europe means. It’s a shift in the Weltanschauung of a people leading to a sea change in a brutal, depraved civilization. A worldview, which provided for human rights, saw its origins in that cradle in Bethlehem.
I sometimes wonder what would have been the fate of the colonized world if the European countries that colonized the Asian countries had not been touched by Christianity. Arenas that host the depraved gladiator games would have sprung up in every conquered nation, in addition to those brutal practices that were integral part of the barbaric civilizations of Europe.
It is this that we celebrate on the Christmas day, though we don’t pause over it long enough to realise it. We celebrate the love story began in Bethlehem that humanized the brutal civilizations of Europe which later undertook the brutal projects of colonization.
I shudder to think of the predicament of the colonies (which were bad enough) without the restraining hand of Christianity.
P S. It is a matter of immense pride to the Indian subcontinent that five hundred years before this great love story of Bethlehem began, it had produced a Buddha who fine-tuned the then existing Weltanschauung of the region with ahimsa, equity and compassion.