OPINION: Dear Santa Claus, save us from ourselves
If I was to write a letter to a Santa Claus, some mysterious and powerful being who could grant wishes as some form of atonement or sacrifice for the sins and troubles of this world, there are many things that I would ask for.
And this year has shown many times and opportunities when certain things would have been so obvious to ask for. Indeed, would it be too much to ask for good will towards all women, and all men, and all children, and all elders, and all those who stand in the lonely places as frightened and desperate outsiders?
This year has seen a year of extraordinary challenge of prejudices.
Bigotry seems to have taken on a whole new guise of sophistication, as the bigots have slipped into rational discourse to disguise their barely concealed fears and prejudices.
It is as if the rhetoric we have been bombarded with has been for our own protection.
Yet the reality is for those preachers of hate, they are actually wanting others to join them in their dark and lonely, twisted places of fear.
Think of it.
I am frightened.
I am desperate.
I am lonely.
Please come and join me in this place.
We can find shelter here together.
Who will go to join them in that dark place?
Others who feel that fear as well.
In their fear of themselves, they will look for someone else to blame for their woes.
They create the us and them. They dehumanise the them.
They cast dispersions of criminalisation onto the innocent, binding them up with the sins of the deranged.
In doing so they fail to see how deranged they have become themselves. Because after all, they are different.
They are strange. They must be evil and wrong.
I find it interesting that the more we listen to the hatemongers, we can be swept up into believing the rationalisation, the justification of the fear and the hate.
We may only ever really notice this when the preachers of hate and fear fall silent. We can feel left with a sense of feeling like we have just been done over.
And when the leaders of this way are deposed, the overwhelming feeling that floods through us as individuals and as a people is that of relief.
Yet for those preachers of hate, little do they realise that when you teach others to fear and hate that which is different, when you teach the art of dehumanisation, that your followers will not know when to stop.
You learn to dehumanise a certain group, you can learn to dehumanise anyone. Including our own community, your own family, your own brother, sister, husband, wife, or child.
It is time that good men and good men found the courage to see through the lies of fear and hate and to stop listening to these people. Lest we become the target of such hatred ourselves.
A brighter, more prosperous future will not be found in the hands of frightened, wounded men and women who wish to shelter us in their fear. Only desolation and an endless cycle of recrimination.
And let's face it. We all have the ability to be that man or woman who preaches hate and fear, who hides away in our loneliness. We all have the ability to speak words that tear the life from another human soul.
We can even do it to our partners.
We can even do it to our children.
When we do this, how often do we wish we could bite our own tongues off, but in our moments of weakness and shame, instead find ourselves justifying our actions.
Justifying why our words are true, and vilifying the other guy.
So my Christmas wish to Santa Claus would be for the hearts of men and women to soften from defending our fractured, pain-worn egos and to be able to look at one another deep into the eyes, deep into the soul and to be able to drop into the true sorrow for our actions.
To look at those we have shredded with our words and actions and to say how sorry we really are.
May you find this courage for your life this Christmas.
And forever more.
Paul Stewart is a Professional Coach with Compassion Coaching: www.compassioncoaching.com.au, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle, inSight Women's Circle, and Teen Tribe programs run through Hopelink: 07 4979 3626.