Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Believe in Father Christmas!

Can't you see him? There he is, thundering across the cold Atlantic wastes as I write, with a jing-jing-jing and a ho-ho-ho, destination Greenland. And of course he has a big tummy and a white beard and a red coat and is on a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Then again, maybe he wears green, and it is the Coca-Cola Corporation's interpretation that put him in red. Or maybe Father Christmas is old One-Eyed Odin, the Trickster God, in disguise, riding his six-legged steed towards Yggdrasil, The One Tree, while wear the inverted flayed hide of a deer.
What do you mean, you don't believe? Shame on you! You'll be telling me next that you don't believe in the Tooth Fairy, or its teenage version, the Zit Gnome. And from there it's only a hop, skip and a jump to not believing in Buddha or Jesus or something.

And after that, you end up not believing in your parents, or teachers, or politicians.
So, if you are one of those hardened souls who are truly non-believers, could you do something? Give me your money. Obviously, it means nothing, as it's just pretty coloured pieces of paper or brightly stamped metal. I'll take any gold you have lying around as well, as that's just another bit of old toot you got. Oh, and any bright-looking stones you possess - you know, those worthless ones called diamonds.

As you can probably tell, my tongue is firmly in cheek, but with a serious point. We live in a world that is based on trust and faith, whether we like it or not. This faith takes many forms: For some, it's about God and Religion; For pretty much everyone, it's a faith that the piece of paper we carry in our pockets is worth five pounds of something. For those of you who say it's trust, not faith, I say look at what happened in the Financial Crisis of 2008: wasn't that a sudden loss of faith?
For some reason, people need faith, they need to believe, they need to trust. Of course, the flip side of this is gullibility and credulity, things that the powerful, knowledgable and ruthless will use to their own profit, but still we need this. God knows why, if you'll forgive the phrase. Even our material world is a testament to faith: look at the maginficence of churches and cathedrals, to the great buildings and monuments of any great city. Built from faith and cash, which is itself another form of faith.
Herein is the trouble: It doesn't matter how rational you consider yourself to be, you are immersed in faith and belief, and you cannot truly escape it. The best that you can hope for is to understand it for what it is, and use it accordingly.
And right now, Father Christmas is landing on a roof, there is a certain ruffle and jingle, and a child somewhere shifts in their sleep and fleetingly catches the comforting sound of laughter.
Happy Christmas, all of you.

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