Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas is about Jesus and his birth

One poignant Christmas story is "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the brilliant Charles M. Schulz. Some memorable lines in this Emmy-winning Christmas special:

"Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer, fun for all that children call their favorite time of year. Snowflakes in the air, carols everywhere, olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share."

"Charlie Brown: I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I might be getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

"Linus: Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem."

"Lucy: Don't worry. I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that."

"Linus: Christmas is not only getting commercial, it's getting too dangerous."

"Lucy: Let's face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know."

Now, put all those lines parallel to the top story of The Sunday Times last December 16 headlined "Black, bitter Christmas for 6M poor Pinoy kids." Reading on you realize that these kids come from families who started out poor and yet had 6, 7, 8 or even more children that their parents could not afford even to feed a single decent meal a day.

Is Christmas to blame? Or the crass commercialism of Christmas? Or irresponsible parenthood?

One staunch advocate of population control is the Lopez Group patriarch, Oscar M. Lopez. His take on this issue is: "Arresting our population growth is an imperative in getting our country's economy to move faster. Today, the country's average per capita income and labor productivity are at about the same levels as it was in early 1980's because of our rapid population growth. We doubled our population from 36.8 million in 1970 to 75.6 million in 2000, and if we don't do anything now, our population will exceed 100 million in less than 10 years time. Where are we going to put all these additional millions? We are all going to be on top of one another and on top of trees, assuming there will still be trees at that time. It is our responsibility as Filipinos to confront this problem squarely.

" I feel like we are in a small leaky wooden boat, a batel if you wish, that is overloaded with passengers and buffeted by big waves in a turbulent sea and, therefore, in danger of sinking at any moment.

"The Lopez Group, in collaboration with the USAID Prism will strengthen their reproductive health and family planning program by gaining the support of their CEOs and senior officials through education and information campaigns on the benefits of investing in the FP program. They will install a program that is employee-centered and will have activities that include profiling of employees according to their FP needs, customizing a FP program design and implementation plan, the evaluation of clinic facilities and service provider capability to provide FP services; and the setting-up of a peer motivators program. Additionally, there will be capability-building activities, regular evaluation to determine the progress of the program and to make it a sustainable component of the human resource and corporate social responsibility agenda.

"We have learned from our Asian neighbors that their sharp reductions in poverty were a result of sustained economic growth, attributable to good economic policies coupled with a strong population policy. The appeal to our political and church leaders must be reinforced until our country has a workable and consistent population policy. We need the cooperation of all groups in society to successfully confront this very serious problem."

And back to Christmas, Linus reminds us to fear not, "for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you."

Christmas is about being responsible citizens, parents and individuals. Being a parent is gift, a privilege, and a responsibility.

Christmas is not about any one of us. Christmas is about Jesus and his birth. There is no connect between everything that we are doing to ourselves and Christmas. Let us not blame Christmas for our woes.;

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