The other side of tough times

This Christmas will not be soon forgotten. It is hard — and cold — for many of our fellow humans, many of our colleagues, neighbors, relatives and friends. Many have lost their jobs, seen their businesses wither and felt poverty closing in around them. Others have lost something much more precious: a person, a loved one. We have all lost a bit of our spirit, our smile, our optimism.

But we have also gained something. We have gained that long-forgotten sense of moderation, of what is really necessary and useful. Constricted by need, robbed of the certainty of a predictable and relatively good new year to come, with the future looking very bleak indeed, we are in the process of reassessing the concept of necessity. Despite the shock of growing poorer, despite the violent disintegration of all of our old certainties, we see that our real needs are, after all, not as many as we once thought and that we are not bereft — even in these gloomy times.

Good health, love, faith in humanity, ourselves and our fellow man — these are the important things, even if they ring so stunningly banal, so old-hat and worn by time, even if they compose the crux of almost every philosophy on life, from the dawn of intelligent man to the dusk of Nietzsche and Freud.

These are all that is necessary for us to sail through these stormy times — without them we are truly lost. These are real, and they are forever etched in the lithograph of the three virgin martyrs: Faith, Hope and Love — the daughters of Sophia (Wisdom).

Christmas is a festive break from the usual in the middle of winter, and it gives us this sense of wisdom, an invitation to get in touch with our emotions, to ponder our lives.

The crisis invites us to reinvent ourselves, to find the new us, free of the burden of unnecessary needs.

We may be without luxuries, without money, without corporate bonuses and flashy gifts, without the usual trimmings of convention. But we are not without the great gift of charity, of simple, immaterial pleasures, and of faith in the constant miracle of life.

Melancholy and plentiful, the weather is snowing down upon us and making us feel dejected. But we see everything differently now. We have made it through a lot, and we can make it through more as well.

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