Monday, December 6, 2010

So Where’s The Christmas Spirit?

It’s just under three weeks until Christmas, and the festive season is about to get into full swing. Christmas parties are looming, the mad rush top the shops to buy presents for family and friends, and of course the rising tide of Christmas cheer when total strangers are actually nice to each other and wish each other a “Merry Christmas”. Only, I’m a bit worried about the whole “peace on Earth and goodwill toward all men” thing. What with apparently random shootings on the Gold Coast, newspaper headlines screaming about international tensions, renewed concerns about the impact of violent computer games making young people more aggressive, and a friend of mine reporting an incident where she was threatened by an angry motorist, it seems that “good will” is a little thin on the ground.

Have we really evolved into a more violent, aggressive, and obnoxious society, fuelled by an elevated sense of entitlement and disregard, and reflected in the increasingly ghoulish violence of our predominant cultural art forms in movies, television and electronic games? It is certainly easy to believe that courtesy and manners have long since been rendered extinct by a wave of abusive language and behaviour which now seems to be accepted as normal, at least in some sectors of the community. In fact, it can even be a stretch to call it a community anymore when so many people seem to be so rabidly anti-social.

While it can be all too easy to become fearful for the future in the face of senseless acts of aggression, it is important to keep them in perspective. Most of us want nothing more than to be treated with the same consideration that we are happy to show others. Most of us are equally mortified when this doesn’t happen. Most of us are able to watch a movie or a television show about a murder mystery without becoming murderers ourselves. But as always, it is the minority who attract the attention. It is because hideous behaviour is the exception rather than the rule that it stands out so much, and gets reported on the front pages.

The truth is the majority of motorists just want to get to where they are going without any drama, children are still influenced more by their parents’ behaviour than by any other factor, and decent people still don’t go around shooting random strangers. So if the Christmas Spirit seems to be a little difficult to find just now, it’s probably because we are paying too much attention to the things which are going wrong, and not enough to the things which are going right. It’s not enough to complain about the world becoming a more unfriendly place without being prepared to become a little less unfriendly ourselves.

As always, if we really want to find the Christmas spirit, we have to look within ourselves.

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