Strategic Culture Foundation wishes all its readers around the world a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. In Orthodox Christian countries like Russia, Christmas Day is celebrated on January 7. While the Western holiday season has already peaked on December 25, the festivities are still upon us.
Sending greetings of Happy Christmas to the world is not a mere pleasantry. Nor is it frivolous cheeriness. It evokes a defiant heartfelt wish for a better world.
And what can be better than a peaceful world, one free from violence, suffering and misery? A peaceful world where people can enjoy the undoubted beauty of life.
Sadly, our world falls all-too short of this aspiration, which makes saying Happy Christmas an act of defiance – perhaps skeptics would even say, madness.
The Christmas Story of a child born homeless and in deprivation into a cold, harsh world is inspirational for hope in our dreams of a better world. The child was loved and cherished despite the grim circumstances.
For Christians, the importance of the story takes on an ineffable dimension because of the belief that the child Jesus was God incarnate. The divine creator of life, Christians hold, actually became human and intervened in human history. Christians believe that God’s manifestation as a poor, homeless child is a joyous sign of solidarity with the victims of injustice, violence, oppression. The Easter Story of Jesus’ victorious resurrection from the dead is the complementary confirmation of the hope that Christmas inspires. Thus, a better world is not only possible; it is achievable.
Against this, however, human history has witnessed a litany of horror and destruction. Over the last century, in particular, world wars that have killed tens of millions of people stand out as an abomination. Our technical capacity to destroy the entire Earth is a shameful barbarity. The backdrop of wars, human suffering, and callous oppression of other humans is surely a painful test of our beliefs and aspirations.
But hope we must for a better world.
Nevertheless, this hope is not based on some vague sentiment or vain wishful thinking. It must be based on realistic, truthful, judicious analysis of conflicts and their causes. We must have the courage to call out and condemn the perpetrators and their motivational system: capitalist profiting, imperialist bullying and war-making.
Let’s be specific about our moment in history. In Syria and Iraq, the people are just beginning to recover from years of war waged by murderous mercenary armies. In those two countries, the people appreciate the meaning of Christmas, of being free from violence and to have singing and laughter replacing the sound of gunfire and explosions. But, it has to be said, those wars are the result of decisions taken by Western governments to interfere illegally for unscrupulous geopolitical reasons. That is a fact.
The United States of America and its European NATO allies bear heavy responsibility for the horrors that have engulfed Syria and Iraq.
These same powers also bear responsibility for the horrors and suffering in Libya, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Yemen.
It is a nefarious shame that while people in other parts of the world are exchanging Christmas gifts and feasting, millions of children are starving to death in Yemen because of a war imposed on their country by Saudi Arabia with the military support of the US, Britain and France. To say Happy Christmas in this context should make one tremble with anger, indignation and grief.
From Russia’s perspective, the ongoing, gratuitous hostility from the US and its allies conveyed in endless Russophobia is an arduous challenge. Last week, the American president published a National Security Strategy, which provocatively presents Russia as a pernicious “rival”. Where is the spirit of goodwill in that? The provocation is all the more heightened by the White House’s approval for supplying lethal weapons to the regime it illegally installed in Kiev, thereby fueling a four-year war on the people of Eastern Ukraine.
This week, Russia hosted the British foreign minister who insults ordinary human intelligence with slanderous claims about Moscow interfering in other countries. How frustrating it is to have to deal with such tinpot politicians, especially in light of the Western governments and mass media ramping up efforts to brazenly interfere in the forthcoming Russian presidential elections in March 2018.
From a global perspective, the world sits on a knife-edge with regard to US relations with North Korea. The reckless belligerence espoused by Washington – threatening total nuclear destruction – is another abhorrence.
This year, 2017, is reckoned to be the hottest year on record which flags up the dire problem of global climate deterioration. The global consensus is that industrial pollution of the atmosphere must be curtailed dramatically in order to prevent ecological collapse. Yet, the United States’ government stands alone in repudiating this consensus based on unscientific and ignorant prejudice.
Looking to the year ahead, there is no doubt we are living in dangerous times. We are, lamentably, haunted by wars, suffering and deprivation, even extinction if errors are compounded. Perhaps we might flounder and give in to despair. But we owe it to humanity to stay faithful to hope.
We must persevere in the hope that humanity will prevail in making this world better for the present and future generations – in all the nations of the world.
We must implement that hope with a rational political, diplomatic method. And we must hope that humanity can, and will, recognize our common fraternity and conduct relations accordingly.