A Time – for caring, sharing and love
As we approach the Christmas season and the ending of another year, I would like to thank everyone who has been following and supporting my pilgrim’s journey with all its twists, turns, and difficulties. I would especially like to thank my old friend and editor Don Black, for his never-ending generosity and his personal contribution this newsletter.
This time last year I was firmly ensconced in The Gambia, preparing for Christmas for the children and adults alike. I was busy every day with kids in school, preparing food each morning and evening, as well tending to, and caring for those in need. Who would have thought that within a few weeks my life would radically change and necessitate a move back home with all its transitions and challenges.
But then, who would have thought that the world would be in a bigger mess than the previous year. We are coming into the depth of winter when the sun is shadowed in the cold dark days. In such times, with such turmoil, I think it important to remind ourselves of our common underlying humanity. Amid the bleak darkness of winter, and world strife, signs of light and hope are starting to reappear.
Transitions are never easy whether personal or global as most people resist change because it usually does not come easy. We tend to want to blame this phenomenon on external factors – economic, social, or organizational, yet they are all creations of our own and can be changed peacefully.
Tragically there are many people in our society who have been hardened against compassion, as something dispensable in a zero-sum competition for scarce resources and personal security: the people who can never have enough. We see quite clearly that their compulsion to accumulate has left too many people with too little to live a decent life.
Overall, we face formidable challenges. There is a lot of work to do, and much is being done to make changes, to develop remedies, to bring people together in common cause. And it is being done all over the world, as my travels to countries have shown me. Truly community-based development, especially Cooperatives of all sorts give us the energy to accomplish what we need to do to strengthen our communities and make them more productive.
But the change we are facing now, is much greater than all of those. It is one of human endings which are impossible to change, albeit we always appear to try, as older people cling to life and the order that they have created, much of it now flawed, but life and living continues.
Humanity may last forever, but the human life span is limited, and often many, mostly those with power and control, tend to forget that.
The world crisis is evidence of this, and humanness is being thrown aside as the older generation sees it end. Most of the positive changes we are witnessing is coming from the next generation, those young people who have much better awareness, education and understanding of what being human entails.
This can be witnessed in Ukraine, where young people have been struggling against Russia for a couple of decades as it has tried to constrain and impede a more open and democratic society (I have been witness to the power of youth there). It is evident in Iran and China where repressive regimes exists. It was evident in the elections in the United States which saw the biggest turnout of youth in decades.
And it is important to recognize that it is being driven by young women, who throughout history have themselves been stymied, and often brutalized. Young people have learned the lessons of history and understand the strong impulse of humanity to connect with and support each other in their efforts for a better life.
They understand the most important aspects of humanness are caring, sharing, and love not based on decree but on feelings. Previous generations in many countries had their own “love” revolutions that have reverberated through following generations.
I have had the good fortune to have been able to base much my life on this philosophy, especially since my participation in life in The Gambia. The generosity of others who cared enough for my impulse and passion enabled me to share with people who have too little of what they need to survive, much less prosper.
What these people shared with me in turn was their gratitude for someone who cared and gave, and the spontaneous affection of little children. This affection, curiosity, and ability to play are born in every human child. It is the foundation of humanity, and they have a great deal to teach us, if we are willing to share and to learn.
As we approach the Christmas season, and the dawning of a new year, it is a truly time to look at what this season means in the context of spirituality, morality, and family; the very foundations of society itself. We need to bring back the magic of the personal, sharing and giving, wrapped in the sanctity of blessing and love. Young people are moving in this direction and away from the materialist and greed-based society that has evolved.
As is my tradition each year, I wish to give, each and every one of you in my sphere, a special gift from the heart. This year please accept and experience and share some of the feelings of gratefulness, appreciation and love that has been given to me by all whom we have supported.
These feelings are most expressive and meaningful from the children – who are the owners of the most precious love that exists. Trust me, this is the most generous and special gift that one can receive and give – as my heart overflows.
So, as we sit amid the cold and darkness of a winter of crises, we might well ponder a world in turmoil, distrust, and disbelief. It is a very good time to reflect on the greater issues of life itself, what it really means, and to look forward to the Solstice celebrations of the timeless dependability of the return of longer days and more sunlight that bring us spring and a fresh, renewed earth.
Now it is time for us to give back, to put great energy into restoring the earth, and healing ourselves so we can rediscover our own fundamental humanity. And to do it together with laughter, song, and celebration.
Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous and Loving New Year to All!
Written by William Pardy
December 15th, 2022