Thursday, December 1, 2016

HOLIDAYS. Reliving Hate and Living Peace

WHY do people celebrate holidays? Let's take for example St Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving. Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland, converting a society practising a form of Celtic polytheism (or paganism). He has been generally so regarded ever since, despite evidence of some earlier Christian presence in Ireland. Critics see that as a way of religious subjugation of a people's inherent form of worship or community fervor. I can translate that as well with how Christianity's cross sat foot in my islands-country and transformed natives as a way of exerting domination over them and their resources.

           Meantime, much like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving is considered by some to be a "national day of mourning,” as a celebration of the cultural genocide and conquest of Native Americans by colonists. Thanksgiving has long carried a distinct resonance for Native Americans, who see the holiday as an embellished story of "Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences" to break bread. I can relate with that too as a Filipino.
           It is our basic human right to or not to participate in celebrations or observance of holidays in honor of this and that religion or people or culture or political history. Many of those who hold aloft their Pagan beliefs cling on to practices and traditions that amplify or accentuate their faith or culture. Native Americans stay in the reservation and live the way they were. Many peoples in the world do the same. However, I don't see the rationale in people protesting holiday observances like St Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas yet still live the lifestyle or culture of a people that they believe committed wrongdoings in long ago past.
Genocides and massacres and subjugation are evil. But those who gather as family and community to enjoy togetherness and collective peace in these “holidays” should not be criticized as though they were exactly the ones who committed those genocides and massacres. Otherwise, I will simply look back in history and relive the wounds of centuries of Spanish and American colonization back home. That invasion brought English and Christianity and Hershey's and bejewelled crucifixes and a whole consumerist flood back home, almost totally wiping away a people's innate cultural truths. And so I will continue to hate the White Man?

          Yet I don't see life that way. I'd rather look at "Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences" to break bread than the blood spilled on the land. I'd rather see St Patrick's legacy of goodness in converging a people for common good than what could have happened in those times. Meantime, I am not a fan of the endless drinking on that day anyway. And you know, if I really want to drive it back to history, the wearing of leprechaun outfits is considered derogatory in 19th century Ireland, it's like caricaturing or ridiculing them. But then, chill. Right? Good things. You see, Japan is the number #1 aid giver to the Philippines yet the country occupied us in the Pacific War and did really bad things then.              

          Why don't we instead see the good things in people's way of gathering as one than see the wounds of the past? We lambaste those who hate but isn't this attitude a form of reliving hate in people's heart? Other people, tribes and Catholics sit down and plan fiestas and revelry for common benefits and enjoyment. Natives exalt harvest, Catholics glorify their God—for the new sun after nonstop rains. I don't think they sat down (to plan the feasts) by pointing fingers who killed who 101 years ago. 
          I believe we just have to focus on what's here and now and choose our battles and protests where and when they are really needed. Peace is possible if we know how to gather us as one than divide us into tiny little hating gremlins.

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