Saturday, December 25, 2010

Unhappy New Year

My Inbox is getting filled with Merry Christmas and Happy New Year e-cards these days. Most of the people I know have moved to e-mailing; it's environment friendly, cheaper, and faster. I like all aspects of it, no doubt. I probably will get a few mailed cards with my name and the address of my office in the first couple of weeks in the new year. It is mostly when governmental institutions want to play "cooperative" with NGOs. I also get some of the UNICEF cards from few others, such as bigger NGOs, and diplomatic core's offices. But, it usually remains on the level of e-cards with Merry Christmas and Happy New Year notes. Some are short videos or flash animations. Nice.
There is something warm in all that, regardless of the fact that most of them are circular and impersonal. For a very brief moment, it makes me feel taken care of. It took the person who sends the card some time to type my name and the address of my office down to the mailing list, and didn't take it out in days of e-mail lists revision.
I'm not like that. For ten years now, I ask my friends and colleagues at Civil if they like my newest New Year Card, which they usually do. They got used to be a part of an organization that is different. I cherish them for being what they are, and thank them for supporting my initiatives, including these pre-holidays ones.
My cards... Those are usually cards that do not wish the best in a standard text next to a Christmas tree and Santa Claus, etc. For about ten years now, I remind people in my extensive mailing list of the fact that it's been another year in which human rights and freedoms have been severely violated, that people suffered from injustice, violence and poverty. On a number of occasions, I also wished strength and courage to people who struggle for peace, equality and human rights.
So I did this year, again.
Some of the recipients sometimes respond like: "Yeah, couldn't this wait until after the holidays?" Many are supportive and say we're original, as always. Some say: "Aren't you tired of all this? You keep barking, things never change".
They are all probably right. More or less. In the end, who am I to take the freedom of ruining people's right to be careless and cheerful, close their eyes before the sad and violent part of the world? Who gave my colleagues the right to support a card which is not in the line of the commonly accepted cheer? It almost looks like absence of good taste, like an attempt to ruin the mass "season greetings" and all sorts of joyful tick-of-a-clock celebrations.
Well, regardless of how individualist I may be, I still see that the majority of the world's humans, starting with the town where I've spent most of my life - have no reason to be happy these days, as well as any other day of the year. Dead drunk, maybe, but not happy. Majority of them will suffer in the moments of planet's official date of celebration. Poor, humiliated, beaten, tortured, sold and re-sold, killed, or praying for death to come - how many of them? While big screens and bells will mark the tick that will change that one number in the memos, like a taxi-meter, billions of people will keep on struggling with their dreadful lives. Will the bells and loudspeakers overloud the weeping children and women, the roar of the system that turn human dignity into dust?
Should we, the minority of human kind, living in the "civilized world", sink into kitsch and get overfed, for the sake of the habit? Self-content, deaf and blind to the cry of the billions?
And, where is the good taste there?
Um, maybe the best is to give some change to the nearest beggar and clear our conscience. Or, be kind to a message of peace and human rights and pretend you listen? Or, really listen to such a message, and say something like: "Someone has to do something about this, some higher authority..." And, vote for the right-wing bloodsuckers after that. And - be happy when some fat criminal invests in a factory right under your nose, because you hope for a job in that poisonous facility... And - after you or your kids get seriously ill, blame on everything but your stupidity and short-sightedness... And...
Well, let me interrupt this, since I made my point, I'm sure, and follow the tradition for a sec. Yes, I will make a wish on my side, finally.
I wish you to read my note, and take it seriously. I wish you to open your eyes, and clean up your ears. I wish you to start thinking. I wish you strength and courage.
True, the coming year is not going to be happy, just as the one that we leave behind us. It's a consequence of conformism, arrogance and ignorance, bear that in mind.

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