At this time of year, as the cold wraps its fingers around the Midwest and coats it in a blanket of snow, one is inclined to reflect on past events and give thanks for past accomplishments. One can also reflect on failures he may have had and make plans for the future that will hopefully correct past mistakes and attempt to correct said failures or move in a different direction. Depending on one's present situation, this is likely not as important in modern times as it was in the past. In these days of abundance, where we live in heated buildings, have plenty of food stocked on store shelves and enjoy many modern conveniences, it is much more likely we will be able to survive and bounce back from failure then it was in the past when such things could have easily led to death. This time of year, being the coldest and darkest time, must have been a tough time for ancient man, especially if he was unprepared. If the harvest had been good, one was likely able to relax and enjoy a well earned respite, if not then there would be a struggle to survive until the spring.
Is it any wonder ancient peoples planned celebrations for this time of year? In those days the celebrations occurred after the winter solstice to welcome the sun back. They had made it through the darkest days of the year and looked forward to a time when the sun would be high enough in the sky to once again warm the earth. They likely wished to let those closest to them know how much they appreciated their company and how loved they all were. These were celebrations of life, light and love that still echo in our collective consciousness.
Winters were likely a time of peace. In keeping with the natural cycle of things, mankind would rest as much as possible at this time, perhaps reaching a state close to hibernation. Conserving energy would have been key to survival. Remaining sheltered and warm would have been of utmost concern. The things ancient man did in the spring, summer and fall would determine if he'd make it through the winter. Saving what could be stored for later consumption was important. All things considered, this would have been the best time of year to take the time to dream, and that remains in our collective psyche to this day.
Religion was another important aspect in these people's lives. One can imagine the world they lived in, a world in which so much was beyond their control. Such things could mean life or death to these people. They would, of course, do what they could to ensure their survival in the areas where they could do something, but there were many aspects to their lives they were helpless to do anything about except pray to their gods and ancestors. It may have seemed at times as if the natural world was at war with them. It may have at other times seemed as if the natural world was comforting and nurturing. Likely the dreams of these people consisted of ways to stabilize their world, to increase prosperity, and to make their lives more predictable so as to increase their chances of survival.
Despite all our modern day conveniences, the wealth we've built, and the progress we've made, many of the dreams of our ancestors have not come to pass. I still need to dream of peace because there is so much war and violence in this world. I still need to dream of freedom because my opportunities have been limited by powerful forces operating in this world to prevent potential from being realized. I still need to dream of liberty because of an oppressive system that taxes the productive common folk and gives to an unproductive elite. Yes, we live in a more prosperous society than we've ever seen in recorded history, but we can ask ourselves how much more prosperous would we be if an elite ruling class was not hording the wealth created by the common people and squandering it on wars and other programs not necessarily in the best interests of human kind?
There seems to be a magic in the air at this time of year, more so than at other times. There seems to be a door that opens up, a connection, so to speak, with the dreams we have and the reality we seek. Perhaps that is one of the reasons this time of year becomes so special to so many. It's a time of giving and a time of receiving. Its a time of generosity. Sometimes, its a time when miracles occur. It's a time when we show others how much we appreciate them. It's a time when dreams have the chance to become a reality. In my opinion, the dream of peace goes hand in hand with the dream of freedom, for a freeman is more likely to be a peaceful man.
A couple thousand years ago a man walked this earth who dreamed of bringing peace to mankind. He was a great teacher who tried to impart upon us that we should be nice to each other. He tried to tell us that we should treat other people as we would want to be treated by them. Perhaps the masses weren't very good students. He was a radical for his time, teaching the common folk that they were as important as the ruling class. It takes everyone to help create reality. It takes legions to make war. It's not just the ruling class who are at fault, but also those who mindlessly obey them. So long as we have those who wish to force their rule upon others and those who without question enforce the will of the rulers, we will not have freedom and we will not have peace.
The answer is simple. That man who walked the earth two thousand years ago was right. Peace begins in the heart. That is where the dream begins and where it flourishes. Tap that peace and bring it into the world and you become that which you dream. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Respect the choices your neighbor makes as you would want him to respect your choices. Allow others to make mistakes so that they may learn from them. And if someone tells you this isn't so, if you are ordered by someone in “authority” to steal from another, or to do harm to someone who hasn't harmed or wronged another, or to stop exercising your rights, or to harm or help keep another from exercising their rights, then just say no. Disobey. Realize the dream of peace through peaceful civil disobedience. Support others who do the same. Speak out against the wrongs perpetrated by the state and by agents of the state. Let others know how you feel. Let everyone know you're tired of being kicked around and ignored. Let all know you prefer liberty to tyranny and cast off the chains that bind you to an immoral state. The more of us who raise our voices, the more likely it is our voices will be heard. It is not enough to simply dream anymore, it is time to act upon the dreams and bring them to reality.
I wish for everyone the happiest of holidays at this time of year, no matter which holiday one celebrates. I wish upon the entire population of the earth much peace and joy. I realize that for many this may not be possible. I realize that for many powerful forces seek to disrupt their lives and refuse to just leave them be. I hope that they will take comfort in the dream. I pray they never lose the dream, for when the dream dies than darkness may settle on the soul and this is the time of year when creating light, especially spiritual light, is more important than ever.