A Christmas card message from John Lennon
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
“So this is Christmas. And what have you done?”
So sang John Lennon eons ago in a lament that makes me cry every time I hear it. I know grown men aren’t supposed to cry. And for the most part, I don’t. But when you look at the world today it would be inhuman not to cry. At least a little bit.
No doubt, like many of you, I cringe whenever the news comes on and turns to Ukraine, and I hear of the latest outrage perpetrated in a land once known for its vast wheat fields. But artillery shells, missiles and drones now darken this formerly peaceful land thanks to a brutal Russian dictator with visions of empire clouding his cruel eyes.
“And so this is Christmas. War is over and a new one just begun,” sang Lennon. How prescient can an artist be? He penned those sad lyrics in 1971 and here it is more than 30 years later and they’re just as relevant and painful as today. Will we ever learn?
Go back almost a century to 1932 and 1933 and it was the “Holodomor,” a crazed genocide inflicted on Ukrainians by former Soviet Union President Joseph Stalin, who historians say was responsible for the deaths of at least five million devout, hard-working Ukrainian farmers whose only sin was wanting to survive and support their families.
Other historians say Stalin feared the possibility of Ukrainian independence and was prepared to do anything to stop it, including mass starvation. Ironically, Vladimir Putin, another cruel Russian leader, is on the same course and determined to reverse the independence that Stalin most feared by targeting Ukrainian civilians who get in his way.
But in irony heaped on irony, Lennon seems to sense this in his revered Christmas song: “A very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear. War is over, if you want it. War is over now.”
One can only wish.
And it’s not just Ukraine. In Iran, what amounts to a religious war is going on now with thousands of courageous Iranian women attacked by Islamic morality squads for tearing off their burkas and niqabs and proclaiming their freedom. Many women have been killed in the attacks for declaring their personhood and innate humanity so savagely repressed by a warped and fanatical religious regime, a regime that fears half the human race and is shamefully determined to keep it in darkness.
According to the Global Conflict Tracker at least five active wars took place in 2022 including Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the civil war in Syria, now nearing a decade, the so-called “Forgotten War” between Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as armed insurgencies in Myanmar, Turkey, Kurdistan, Egypt, Libya, Haiti and several more such as the unending conflict between Israel and Palestine.
But the human species isn’t just prepared to battle each other. We also wage war on the environment including polluting the air we breathe, the oceans that sustain all life, the rivers that sustain the oceans, the forests – especially in B.C. and Brazil – that nourish biological ecosystems worldwide and finally our climate that is warming dangerously to the point that many scientists say life could end on our endangered green planet by the end of this century.
Or even sooner.
Don’t believe me? Good, because I don’t want to believe it either because mixing politics and science is not always a reliable mixture and can lead to unjustified doomsday predictions. Only mankind has enough hubris to believe he can change the climate significantly one way of the other. But as John Lennon pointed out we can do something about war.
We can choose never to fight again. Surely that’s a Christmas message we can all cherish thanks to a former Beatle.
– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who believes Christmas is more than just “happy holidays.”