I love Christmas. I love the aromatic fragrance of freshly made petite gingerbread people in Christmas food markets, the unmistakable sight of glimmering emerald green trees sprinkled around the country and, more than anything, the echoes of holiday music blasting from multiple speakers that I always must sing along to. However, I know the festive season does not inspire such elation for everyone on a global scale.
I recently re-read the impeccable I Am Malala by one of my personal heroes Malala Yousafzai, and there was such juxtaposition between the danger, despair and melancholy she often felt on the background of Taliban rule in Pakistan, to the peace, radiance and bliss I felt on the background of holidays at Warwick.
Through reading I began to consider the relationship between the holiday season and global inequality about which I have gained perspective, and the messages they hold for humanity. I was jolted back to reality when Trevor Noah in Born a Crime inexplicably delineated the extreme forms of poverty he faced growing up in Apartheid South Africa.
137 women a day are killed around the world
Although littered with such inexplicable joy – the excitement of being reunited with my family, and the amplification of just overall optimism in the world – for me the festive season hails a hint of despair. The problems of the world are becoming increasingly unavoidable each day: climate change, the increasing amount of natural disasters and the alarming fact which I recently read that 137 women a day are killed around the world.
So as I hum a tune on the way to a seminar or bite into a candy cane, there is a constant reminder that the humanity I have such hope for becomes increasingly under threat. I feel as though the festive season heightens the importance of these problems, as the merrier I feel, the more downhearted I am for consistent conflict Malala faced, immense poverty Trevor encountered or the cruelty Anne Frank had to experience.
There is the numbing realisation that to some people, the festive season is not a season, but just another day in a world that depicts the worst of humanity.
Yet such tales of human strife undeniably put my problems into an alarming perspective
This notion is the most effective ‘reality check’ for me, as I can often be heard wailing to my friends about impending assignment deadlines, the odious task of “having to pack to go home, and haul my suitcase up the Euston station staircase” and having to face another year of more work. Yet such tales of human strife undeniably put my problems into an alarming perspective.
My trivial dilemmas are nothing compared with the pain which is essentially tangible through Malala’s description of being shot. I often wish that everyone, while in the midst of the euphoria of the holidays, would acknowledge the lack of universality of joy we often feel during the festive season.
Instead of simply permitting myself to wallow in guilt over these disparities I have challenged myself to volunteer for important causes around campus such as ‘Great Give Warwick’ which I assisted in collecting items for the homeless this season and speaking out with Amnesty International about the many human rights cases which often get overlooked in the hysteria of the holidays.
I know that even in the remotest of areas, the holiday season is a cause of celebration
Now this is not a ‘shame piece’ intended to guilt individuals into rejecting the holidays or an accusatory rant about extensive ambiance of optimism during the holidays. Nor is it a Western perspective on attempting to sympathise with the strife of others around the world, and viewing them from a ‘poor you’ point of view.
I know that even in the remotest of areas, the holiday season is a cause of celebration. However, the re-reading of the tales I see as hailing such important messages for humanity during the holidays has played such a valuable part in ameliorating my perspective of the festive season.