Monday, January 1, 2018

Fr Georges Massouh: Will 2018 also be a Year of Disappointments?

Arabic original here.

Will 2018 also be a Year of Disappointments?

We find two errors in the celebration of what is called "Christian" [Arabic: miladi, i.e., relating to the birth of Christ] new year and its attribution to the feast of the glorious Nativity: 1) those who celebrate it ought to qualify it as "solar new year" and in this way we would be closer to the scientific designation. 2) for the Orthodox Church, new year's falls on the first day of September. It is called liturgical new year and is the basis for the timing of all the feasts, seasons and events in the Church. It is a new year's for sanctifying time and seasons and thus for sanctifying man. Of course, my approach will not involve comparing these two things. Each person has the freedom to celebrate this occasion as he likes.

We agree with the view that this is a popular celebration and not at all a Christian feast, since it is not on the list of feasts for January 1. Thus there is no reason to praise Muslim participation in "Christian holidays", as it is more true to say about participation in Christmas, for example, which can be regarded as a blessed. New Year's is a celebration in which all citizens participate, no matter what social, political or religious group they belong to, without attributing it to any one religion.

Celebrations of this holiday can be summed up as a night out, a night of dancing with singers and a dinner of different sorts depending on the restaurant... and waiting to hear fortune-tellers' lies and predictions about how things will go in the coming year. It goes without saying that a sane mind does not believe in luck, fate, or chance. Man makes his luck, not the planets, the stars, a cup of coffee, or any such silliness... It is in man's hand and in his capability to make his new year better, by not choosing any other fate than reason and a sound starting-point. If someone has this as his fate, he will not be ashamed or disappointed.

It is notable that those who expect radical change in their life on the basis of luck or chance will have their hopes dashed. They must work earnestly and actively to change themselves first in order to bring about what they want or what they want to change. It seems from their reliance on luck or fate that they are determinists who do not believe in their own responsibility for their actions. They are merely lazy and do not rely on their own powers, waiting for relief to come out of nowhere or from some specific incident... Note here that Christianity and Islam do not believe in determinism, but rather reject it.

How can Lebanon, with its state of flourishing sectarianism, change if the citizen who curses sectarianism night and day transforms into a sectarian extremist when it's time for parliamentary elections that require sectarian mobilization to preserve the sect's rights in the state and in corruption... This citizen, who every year draws closer to old age without having any social security for his old age that would provide him with a dignified end. How does this situation that has been ongoing for a long time change if it is not accompanied by a change in people's mentalities, which reproduce the ugliest aspects of the past? What can luck offer him if he remains unconcerned with personal effort for change?

These are our conditions in all the Arab countries with their various problems-- the issue of Palestine, the Arab regimes, rampant corruption everywhere, the prevention of general freedoms... Luck has failed miserably, while the movement of people has been able to shake some thrones and other people have almost shaken other thrones but have failed because of the intervention of foreign countries. Luck has no part in this. The people have worked with all their force to reject the current situation without any fear for what is to come.

Someone who demands that the new year be better must strive personally to make it better. Otherwise, his hopes will remain pipe dreams and dust blown in the wind. And this is what history will judge us for.

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