Sunday Letters Christmas Eve Edition
It's Sunday morning and it's Christmas Eve too, so I firstly would like to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and new year.
I like Christmas. That to me that is good enough a reason to take part, although I think most of us just row in simply because there's a tradition built up in our culture.
I want to talk about that a little bit today.
I also want to pay tribute to a friend that is no longer here.
Declan has been on my mind recently. He decided to leave here a few years ago although I'm not exactly sure what date that was.
I heard second or third hand through a neighbour that he had taken his own life.
Declan and I met when I was 16 and he was 19 at the FÁS training center in Finglas where we both were first year electrical apprentices.
He was with Bachelors foods and I was with Lynch's, a contractor. We were neighbours but we didn't meet until we started at the training center together.
Simple Moments I Remember
For a year we were quite close although after we left FÁS we fell out of touch.
For that year we got on well, walking home together every day and into Finglas village on Fridays with our weekly pay to play snooker at the local snooker hall.
We'd drink Coke and eat Drifters and maybe have the odd smoke too.
Declan was loud and outgoing. A tall, dark good looking bloke that did well with the girls. In contrast I was quiet and ironically avoided girls even though I'd grown up in a house full of them.
So we were chalk and cheese but we became friends.
One day I was sent home early from the FÁS center for horseplay in the workshop.
I thought I'd get suspended but Declan arrived at my door that evening to let me know he'd spoken to John the instructor and I'd be alright.
I remember that for some reason.
So after completing first year we left FÁS and went our separate ways.
I remember I met him one time in McGowan's where he told me he had left the trade and started with An Garda Siochana. Now I don't know if that was real or just a dream.
It's fuzzy for me now.
I later did have a dream that we met again. He smiled at me and I felt that he was well. I don't remember any conversation but I do remember waking up thinking how real that dream was.
The Storm Beneath The Calm
Beneath the loud, sociable and excited exterior Declan presented to the world, there was a disturbance. He was unhappy it seems.
He lost his mother as a kid and perhaps that played a significant role in his personal challenges.
Whatever it was that troubled Declan I didn't see it. Others perhaps did but that didn't stop him from choosing to check out.
I wish I knew more about the circumstances of his death.
I searched online but I couldn't find any information. All I found was a death notice of what appears to be his father from 2015.
If I keep looking I'm sure to find out. But at the same time I guess that his family wanted to keep the circumstances private. A such I'm conscious of opening old wounds with my enquiries.
Maybe me remembering him is enough.
Christmas In Irish Culture
For most I feel there is little or no religious or spiritual element to Christmas. We simply do it because everyone else does.
And that's fine. Take part for whatever reason you choose.
If a particular time of year and celebration makes you feel good and brings family together then that's a good enough reason to do it.
Retailers love it.
I feel sorry for anyone working in retail because they get no break over Christmas. For retailers it's all about selling as must shit as possible.
And you and I facilitate that.
That's all fine too – for now. It's how the society we've built works.
I could of course express my outrage, playing to that idea that we're not sufficiently spiritually developed to see through the illusion.
I could jump on my moral high horse and preach about how consumerism is destructive and all that jazz, but I won't.
Because that argument is tiresome and quite frankly a waste of time and effort.
People will realise whatever they will realise when the time is right. As William Blake said; “A fool in his folly will eventually become wise”.
That quote is just about worn out on me at this stage, eh?
Religion & The Irish
In Ireland at one time the people were extremely devout – stupid and naive you might say.
They believed the hijacked stories they were told by priests from the pulpit, doing the bidding of their leaders in Vatican City.
Every week they collected change from the people who had little and knew no better than to question their spiritual leaders.
The Catholic Church had no knowledge of what it meant to have children and a spouse.
They had no clue of the life ordinary people led. Priests led sheltered and comfortable lives supported by vast wealth derived from the devout.
Yet they pretended to know what was best for the people. The people, including the institutions of the state, followed blindly what they were told.
The Churches were full every Sunday with people desperate to find the answer to life's challenges.
Later we would discover how destructive the power and authority we had granted the Church by virtue of our own sleepiness and naivety would be.
This is the case with all things that start perhaps with good intentions. Too high a degree of abdication of personal responsibility and self recognition leads to destructive things.
Now the churches are empty save for the few fearful older people who dread the notion of hell.
They'll keep going until their last day.
After that the Catholic Church in this society will eventually die away I feel.
So What Of Christmas?
My guess is that JC wasn't born on the 25th of December for a start – I'll take a chance on that being correct. If indeed there was a bloke called Jesus of Nazareth in the first place.
If there was, and he underwent some form of enlightenment, then great.
There have been many like him throughout history, both male and female.
So to pedestalise this guy as the only son of some higher intelligence as some kingly authority figure to whom I must afford worship, is just dumb.
Personally I feel he was taken as a figurehead for an organisation he didn't choose to be a part of.
Jesus, if he existed, did so a long time ago and we should move on.
In that moving on however, we should not throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.
To me there is a truth behind the stories we read in the Bible. We've just got to dig a bit deeper than the words on the page.
I don't believe the stories in the Bible are an historical account. I understand them to be stories that point the way like a map of the territory.
Likewise the story of the birth of this figurehead Jesus Christ is representative of something.
To me the birth of Christ represents a psychological birth in us. It represents a realisation that all this worship of other people's ideas are flawed.
It is the waking up to the fact that there is no God as we have depicted and believed it to be.
I could go further into how I interpret this but then that would be me asking you to take what I have found and either pull it asunder or accept it.
I may have done enough of that already here.
The Nature Of Existence
You see to me this thing we're doing, this life we're experiencing, is not objective. There is no “right” idea that we must all assign ourselves to or believe in.
The nature of existence to me is subjective.
My experience tells me there are as many universes as there are elements of consciousness.
Every experience is valid.
That means there are as many Gods as human beings are capable of conjuring up and to those beings those Gods are valid.
For some it's Catholicism, for others it's Judaism or the Islamic faith. For others it's anti-religion that is their religion. Science has become a religion too for some.
You decide what's right and true for you.
In that, there may be the individual realisation someday that all this talk of a saviour born some time in the past, born outside of you and me is flawed.
Maybe it's all just you.
Maybe you made it.