A Solemn Thought at Christmas

Aristotle is usually correct.  Anything taken to excess turns bad.  Think of the examples:  too much sugar, too much poverty, too much power, too much self-righteousness.

“There is nothing superstitious in using the name of the Deity. I believe myself in those eternal principles on which human weakness reposes before it starts on the path of virtue.  These are not idle words in my mouth any more than they have been idle words in the mouths of many great men, nonetheless moral for their belief in the existence of God.”

Who would make such a statement?  None other than Robespierre, The Incorruptible, author of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, responsible for the deaths on tens of thousands on the guillotine.  He was the 1700s version of ISIS, using a device far more efficient than modern terrorists now use to behead victims.

Why think of him today?

An important lesson from history and from the 14th Dalai Lama is that happiness comes from within and not from material goods or conquest.  Conversely, while extremism in the pursuit of anything can produce short term gain, the gain tends to be short term, and the misery it causes is overwhelming.

So, why think of him today?

Simply, Christmas isn’t supposed to be about material gifts or about the superiority of one religion over another.  Jesus was called The Prince of Peace for a reason, and while his message may have been twisted over the last 2000 years, the promise of peace remains profoundly appealing.  Its what people need.  It’s some thing each of us can act to bring into being.

Please remember the mantra:  “change begins with me.”


Sources:

  • Scurr, Ruth, Fatal Purity, Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2006, p. 192.
  • Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy,Penguin Publishing Group, 2016
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