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Global Serenity & Universal Kindness – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Global Serenity & Universal Kindness

Merry does not quite gel with Christmas this year, but Christmas is, indeed, a time to wish for peace.

Global Reflections: Amidst Bethlehem’s Turmoil

In a year in which war wracks Palestine, in a corner of which is situated Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Christ, merry and Christmas do not quite gel together. Peace on earth, goodwill to all – goes another epiphany, long associated with Christmas. That is probably more apposite this year.

War rages not just in Palestine, but in Ukraine as well. Civil war spreads death and destruction in Sudan, Libya, parts of Ethiopia, Yemen and Myanmar. Venezuela claims the richest province of neighbouring Guyana, whose oil finds promise undreamt of riches for this poor nation on the South American coast, with a sizeable presence of the descendants of indentured labourers taken from India.

Israel’s indiscriminate attack on Gaza, killing more than 20,000 people, to punish the Hamas, which carried out a terror strike killing around 1200 Israelis on October 7, has consequences outside Israel and Palestine. And not just direct fallouts of the war such as the attacks on ships passing through the Dead Sea, to move into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, causing many shipping lines to suspend operations along that route, resulting in delayed and costlier freight movements. There have been terrorist attacks in parts of Europe, suspected to be triggered by Israel’s attacks killing thousands of children, apart from ordinary men and women trapped in Gaza.

There is a rise in both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. These seep into the popular culture and poison minds and attitudes for years, if not decades. The rise of right-wing parties that spew hatred towards migrants across Europe is guaranteed to throw sand into the gears of ongoing global integration of economies, people and cultures.

Global Traditions

Yet, Christmas is not a time for bleakness. It is a time for giving gifts to family and friends, to take a break from the hectic business of earning a livelihood, and spend time on strengthening ties within the family and beyond, in activity that often entails travel.

Why should the birth of Christ become a season of gifts, giving and having a good time? It goes back to strategic moves by the Church, as it sought to entrench Christianity in the pagan Europe of antiquity, by incorporating elements of traditional festivity into Christianity. The Roman festival of Saturnalia, which occurs in the middle of December, close to the Winter Solstice, involved all the features of giving and living it up that mark Christmas today. Christmas, per se, does not find mention in the Bible and there are some protestant groups, which take only the word of the Book for granted, that shun Christmas.

The majority of Christians do celebrate Christmas, and require gifts to give, new clothes to wear, places to stay when they travel, and the service that goes with such stay. This is a good thing for millions of people around the world, as they engage in producing the goods and services required to meet this demand.

Even when war and hunger blight certain parts of the world, the lives of many are lit up by the opportunity to earn a livelihood by producing the requirements of Christmas festivities. And those who get these earning opportunities are spread out around the world, and many of them are non-Christians, as in India, China or other parts of Asia and Africa.

With US inflation, as measured by the Fed’s favoured index, the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) index, having fallen below 2% in its latest reading, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is well placed to play the role of Santa, in which many market agents have already cast him, after he announced that the Fed would hold rates now and probably cut them in 2024, to the hilt. He could cut rates sooner, deeper and more often.

If Israel declares an end to its ongoing war on Hamas, and Russia and Ukraine negotiate a peace, the world economy would, indeed, be able to shed pain and gloom, and start growing again, bringing cheer all around.

Even if Christianity has not persuaded even Christians of the virtues of following Christ’s teachings to love your enemies, turn the other cheek and celebrate the return of the prodigal son because  he has repented, Christmas does spread cheer and goodwill around the world.

TK Arun is a Senior Journalist and Columnist based out in Delhi.

The article was first published in Substack as ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All‘ on December 25, 2023.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organisation.

Read more at IMPRI: 2023: The Year That Will Make 2024 Look Good.

Posted by Mansi Garg , a researcher at IMPRI.

  • IMPRI Desk
  • IMPRI

    IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

  • TK Arun

    TK Arun is a Senior Journalist and Columnist based in Delhi.

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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