WHEN New Year approaches, many of us devolve into a clamorous mob, doing crazy things like igniting firecrackers to noisily announce: “Hey, I am here. Pay attention to me!” Sadly, the attention we get is as shortlived as the firecrackers’ noise and flare. Most of us will go through life still unnoticed, unloved, and unremembered.
Worse, we abandon ourselves to heedless eating, drinking, and shopping, as we try to forget that the world is a cruel place where we can hardly expect, achieve, and receive anything. We step back from the real world into a world of illusion where fantasy takes over reality. No wonder, movies make a killing during this time.
Perhaps the craziest, most despicable act during the New Year’s celebration is committed by gun-toting and trigger-happy madmen inflicting mayhem and murder on the innocent. Their killing spree sends this chilling message: Nothing is new in the New Year; everything is as it was previously; everything is CHEAP.
After the New Year’s celebration, we become rational again. We go back to our usual routines. But sometimes I wonder if this seemingly logical and predictable scheme of things from sunrise to sunset, this inevitable rhythm of work-eat-sleep-work: Is this not just another form of madness? An illusion of rationality?
Madness has long been associated with asylums, mental hospitals, and psychiatric wards. The long history of civilization is marked by our conscious efforts at confining, and later curing, crazy people. But, as the philosopher Foucault insists, we have not succeeded in eliminating madness, we simply became experts at hiding it. And when it comes out of its hiding place, it often wears the mask of rationality, logic, and conventional wisdom.
How do we avoid making 2013 a prolongation of the crazy things we do to welcome the New Year?
Thankfully, our Christian religion had, once and for all, abolished the idea of history as nothing but a vicious cycle of recurrence and mindless repetition. History is not cyclic; it is linear. Despite the wrong decisions we make, history has a forward direction. We can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Jesus had taught us, with much pain and sacrifice, but also with bountiful love, that human freedom, when used wisely and aided by God’s grace and mercy, can put a stop to our drift towards an insipid, crazy existence.
Our reliance on our knowledge and abilities has reduced us to robots subject to the vagaries of nature and technology. We have become so accustomed to chaos, pressure, and violence that we have forgotten how to live in God’s presence. A beautiful meditation on the New Year is this dissected line from one of the
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
By FR. ROLANDO V. DE LA ROSA, O.P.