To the Editor,
President Nelson Mandela said, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and Apartheid it is man made and can be removed by human beings.” President James Earl Carter said, “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t.” These two statements by these two great men and supporters of humanity are also an indictment to the hypocrisy, commercialization and fraud of this holiday season. This season is defined by the “bottom line” by the corporate media, major retailers and the frenetic pace of consumption and buying by millions in this country. Many of these same people, many who are so-called Christian and Catholic here in Westchester and around the country, define the poor as lazy and ciphers and treat those who have more money and property with veneration and respect. This is certainly an absolute perversion of what Jesus of Nazareth said and did.
This lie that many people live also relates to the origins of the holiday. Christmas is a Pagan holiday that was introduced by the Roman empire called “Saturnalia,” that was celebrated from Dec. 17 to 25 under the Roman calendar. It involved taking innocent civilians and forcing them to indulge in all kinds of pleasures and excesses during that week. On Dec. 25, the person was killed in order to satisfy the empire’s need to “destroy forces of darkness.” Dec. 25 has categorically nothing to do with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The ancient Greek writer Lucian also describes the “Saturnalia festival” as a period of debauchery, rape, intoxication and pederasty.
We see the same kind of decadence across this country, where millions are indulging themselves with food and alcohol at holiday parties, many times looking down upon others with scorn who are less fortunate. That includes millions that are homeless, living in dilapidated housing, with no heat due to slum lords who will not expend money and resources to make sure the poor are living in adequate housing. As Dr. King said “the rioters are not the criminals, it is the white landlords who pocket money and violate all kinds of housing ordinances having people live in squalor that are the real hardened criminals.” Now, there are those this holiday season that give to the poor and have compassion for those who are sick the whole year-round that epitomizes the real meaning of the holiday. That is the difference, and not because it is convenient to engage in acts of kindness because it is the holiday season, that was the true meaning of Jesus of Nazareth. More often though, for millions in this society the rationalization that “we are doing the best we can” is invoked while they criminalize poverty.