The end of the year has never been an easy time for us humans. Before the last hundred years, you really had to worry about the cold, the snow, the sharing of cramped spaces, and inadequate resources. And something that we never have to think about nowadays is how scarce food could get. Scary times before 24 hour diners and drive thrus existed. Specifically the start of winter with the shortest day of the year (the solstice) was sort of a big deal.
Is it any surprise then that our ancestors often used that day to overzealously celebrate whatever pagan worship and practices happened to be around before that nice guy Jesus came along and everyone got converted (whether they asked for it or not)?
Of course not.
Because whatever was going on then, it was tied to nature, the turning of the seasons, and one last important, perhaps even somber celebration to please whoever the gods were to ensure that we could all get through another long and cold winterpalooza. Together.
It was all about survival. And the only important topics of the day were religion and politics (even though they were most likely one in the same). Even if you believed in neither. Because back in the day, you didn’t have a choice to opt out. If you opted out, then it was time to go find a new village.
Now, in the western world, one has to be more worried about getting trampled by overzealous shoppers at Wal Mart, then angry gods unhappy with our birthday or burnt offerings.
And survival? As in a community? Well, if you are part of the community in control of Wall Street, and the 1% in this country, your survival is not in question. They bow down and worship at the altar of capitalism, cash, and greed and they pay off who they need to. Just don’t ask them to talk politics or religion.
For the rest of us (Yes, Therapy is Dandy! is strictly for the 99% of us), survival means huddling up next to whoever our family is and maybe even celebrating one god or another, but don’t be too surprised if the message of survival, rebirth, respect for nature have all gone out the window.
Survival has now been replaced with an orgy of consumer spending. Not in order to easier survive the cold dread of winter, but to easier survive the boredom of our age. Rebirth, or choice, is only allowed if you are in the right group. Some conservative religious groups loves to talk about rebirth, and the pregnancy rates for some sects are astronomical. But some don’t think others, like our fine Gay and Lesbian friends should be allowed the same rights and practices. It is fascinating how many different “villages” exist in these supposed United States. Some of these villages tolerate others. Some certainly do not. And they want all the different folk to be like them, or be considered second class citizens, or go somewhere else altogether. Is it any wonder no one feels comfortable talking about religion or politics? How can we be sure we are talking to one of our own tribe anymore?
That leaves Respect for Nature. And then you have to explain Global Warming deniers. The safety of our food. Where our food comes from even, and is it even food? And oil companies. And other things like fracking. But really, how many people do you know are even comfortable in bringing up either religion or politics in conversation amongst our own? If anything bringing up either, ensures that we don’t survive. That whatever passes for a moderately painless experience with the relatives gets thrown out because we had the audacity to open our mouths and speak from the heart.
Why? Because why we celebrate the end of the year has nothing to do with the truth anymore.
Among our own families, we are not allowed to speak the truth, different bickering groups have their own versions of the truth (Fox vs.HuffPost), and the true nature of our existence loses ground everyday to those selfish few who merely want to hoard resources and wealth for themselves.
So our mental health suffers. We turn to drink to get us through the holidays. We lament our position, as we stand in line and pay with Visa or MasterCard with a throbbing headache, aching back, and a ghostly feeling that this year was somehow surely better than last year.
We are not surviving. We are not happy. And it is time for all of us to take our celebrations back.
It is time for us to change.