On the return from Bethlehem to Nazareth, Mary’s infant Jesus was identified by the town fathers as just another in a long line of illegitimate children who landed there, stretching back through history. His mother would not divulge the father, and who would believe her if she had?
But the town leaders knew how to treat such scum. There had been plenty of bastards before him. He would not be allowed in the synagogue. As he grew, the other boys would not play with him. Girls shunned him when he came of age, knowing his offspring for generations would share his shame. All this for a sin he had not committed.
And being an outcast, he spent much of his time outside of town, in the surrounding countryside, observing it closely.
As he grew, the hurt turned to anger. He saw how the townspeople accounted themselves as blameless in the eyes of the law. They observed the commandments and were fastidious in the rituals. But they broke his heart. And so, worst of all, he learned to hate himself.
And the anger turned to rage. How can this be, the young man wondered after 15–20 years of semi-existence? They look through me. They deny my existence. My God, why do they abandon me!
And the rage became all-consuming. Until finally he reached the end point. The community outcast cast himself out into the wilderness. He would never look upon a human face again until he destroyed himself or made himself whole.
And alone in the desert, tottering on the event horizon that marks the entrance to infinite, eternal darkness, an idea.
They would not be kind to him. So be it. Then he would show them another way. He would be kind to them.
And so a new commandment. A commandment to “Do,” to supplant the “Do Not’s” of Moses: Be kind. To all others. Not just your own kin.
And begin by being kind to yourself, he said. For if you are torn up inside, you will certainly tear at everything around you.
And beyond brother and sister, and kin and stranger, be kind to nature. For your very existence depends on her.
Be kind. To all. This is the heart of the matter. It is the apogee and the perigee; the alpha and omega. All else is commentary or distraction.
But, as often happens, in time broken men turned this on its head and transformed this simple truth into a convoluted miasma of stone-hearted, stiff-necked gobbledygook.
And as their greed and vanity grew, they locked in their growing power by teaching children that they were born damned and depraved with Original Sin, from the very act of conception in mother’s womb.
The self-loathing that drove Jesus to despair in Nazareth would be intentionally inflicted onto generations of children worldwide in the certain knowledge that if you shape the child’s mind you shape the actions of the adults to carry out the will of the holy fathers.
And guilt, depression, and anxiety, evident in dour expressions and humorless self-abasement, would be the new marks of holiness.
The ancient boy is dead. But he posed such a threat to the old order they neutered him, transforming him into just another in a long line of mythic ancient aliens: a God-man come to earth, born of a virgin, resuscitated from the grave, and returned to the astral plane to judge most terribly the sinners and the bastards below.
They banish the teachings, but divinize the teacher and his mythical times. They swaddle life-lessons for 21st Century children with talk of bearded shepherds and angels with feathered wings. The more useless they become, draped in scarlet capes and ermine collars, the more they insist on their teaching authority; with answers to questions no longer worth asking.
So sing the carols, trim the trees, and wrap the presents. But bear in mind the existence of God, and the divinity of Jesus, are matters of faith. And we live in a faithless age.
But as our tools see down deeper and out further one thing comes into sharper focus: the existence of existence is wonder enough. Nature is not the impediment. It is the path.
Our failure, it seems to me, is that we don’t even attempt to understand that the whole she-big-bang uni-verse is a single phenomenon. It is not a heap of stuff, with each piece of stuff monetizable on its own, regardless of the cost to the other stuff.
Entanglement, recognized by the Nobel committee this year, is an early tentative step by the global scientific community to recognize that each is entangled in all, all across the universe. The cosmos may in fact be a hologram; each-in-all, and all-in-each. Perhaps the cosmos itself is conscious; self-aware.
And if that is so, why not propagate kindness? It doesn’t cost any more. And it sure beats an impending catastrophe.
This should be the first instruction in every User Manual: Whenever you use a tool, whether pencil or supercomputer, approach it with a calm, composed mind. And determine that the outcome of the action will be an act of kindness.
Be calm; be kind. Go in peace. And Merry Christmas.
- — — — — -
“They drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took them in!”
- Edwin Markham (Poet Laureate of Oregon,1923–1931)