By Dr Isaac Newton
In a world of loveless domination, the Grinch steals Christmas from those whom he despises. The people he hates are the ‘Whos.’ They are seduced by costly things. Worse yet, they are unaware that material security is a poor substitute of substance for shadow. Not surprisingly, the Whos’ celebration of Christmas falls short of timeless truth.
Dr Isaac Newton is an international leadership and change management consultant and political adviser who specialises in government and business relations, and sustainable development projects. Dr Newton works extensively in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, leadership, political, social, and faith-based issues
At first, the Grinch couldn’t love outside the walls of convention. I wondered if he felt that the North Star was more a flaming furnace than a startling revelation of astonishing mercy. Just when something unexpected was about to happen, self-rejection hardened into lifelessness. But pure friendship maximizes well-being. And the Grinch discovered what many of us avoid: restoration comes from tender hearts and tough hands in the midst of our miseries.
Two days ago, I was bogged down with year-end deliverables. There was quiet agony for the flesh and blood struggles that familial obligations require. In an effort to recharge emotionally, I was totally unprepared for the dance in the living room that Abygail, Elizabeth and Matthieus curled at me.
Their voices swooped in an off-key melody: “Come, they told me, pa ra pa pa pum…” Work-life entanglements exposed the lens through which I was looking at life. I was shaken by the simple splendour surrounding me. Something was being done for me as the children’s enthusiastic outpouring continued: “Our finest gifts we bring, pa ra pa pa pum… Shall I play for you, pa ra pa pa pum?” So set they were on enjoyment and play, that they took no interest in my restless noonday.
Pausing for self-reflection, I felt like the little drummer boy. Though at first blindfolded with self-doubt, he took upon himself the responsibility to play his drum, at a level fit for the new born King. And the melodies he played were so heavenly that “the ox and lamb kept time.” This experience signified a dying and rising, a welcoming into an experience of love and the rebooting of an unending journey of Divine renewal of all things.
Self-affirmation is necessary to handle all the headaches of living. We seldom get what we see, and seldom see what we get, but we don’t have to weave hidden madness with smiling theatre. Because of put downs and experiences of embarrassment, many of us choose not to give our non-material best to the kings and queens in our homes, in our communities, and in our regional spaces. But this weakens our capacity to love and to be loved.
Non-material drumbeats should teach us to walk away from home-wrecking temptations. Or else our goodwill becomes redundant. In each drumbeat of every encounter, we are invited afresh to let go of haunting memories. Moral commitments call us to say ‘NO’ to political bribes that ruin our collective conscience.
The drumbeat also declares that there’s no barrier in fixing cross-border movement and inter-island trade. There’s no lack of grace in remaining flexible and open to creative adventures. Our craving for mutual love is an approximate response to Christmas’ reconciling love expressed in healthy national, regional, and international initiatives.
But what of the many little drummer boys and girls who are searching for strategies to transcend horror? They need courage to see beyond harvest and famine. They need insight to glean lessons from fortune and foe. It is our duty to help them reassess traditional values in our collective effort to alleviate joblessness, to reduce political corruption, and to wipe out private greed with integrity. But they must know also that this transformation of values cannot take place outside of a supportive community of faith, hope and charity.
‘Pa ra pa pum, pum’ isn’t a helpless drumbeat against the harsh realities and disturbing ambiguities of our present crises. It’s a cry for new understanding. If it does not attend to human suffering, this drumbeat will only mask embedded inequities and cemented injustices. I see an exotic duet of little drummer boys and girls with unlimited improvisional melodies communicating that every human being is made to bring joy to the world.
Yet it is before the spectacular power and healing rhythm of unyielding love that the Grinch in all of us collapses, suffocates, and dies. On Christmas Day and thereafter, we shouldn’t be afraid to laugh, to light several candles, or to listen for ten minutes to the carols of our spiritual yearnings. There are aesthetic harmonies flowing between you and your dance, and me and my drum. This music will refresh our soul, renew our spirit, and rewrite our purpose.