We should really think about what it means to give gifts, and focus on what we need, writes Mothibi Mthethwa
What a headache it often becomes during this time of the year when almost everyone is out to paint the town red in an effort to buy and give away presents to their loved ones.
Shoppers often try to choose the “right gift” for the “right person” and wonder if it is really what their loved ones really want, let alone what they need.
In his sermon, under the theme Let’s keep Christmas, one-time chaplain of the US Senate Peter Marshall had this to say to members of his congregation: “Perhaps, there is nothing in the shop that they need.”
All the same, people will continue to buy hit-or-miss gifts for their next of kin and those close to their hearts.
However, what would be the best Christmas present for all the law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of South Africa is that during this festive season we:
- Stop hacking and carving one another with knives, machetes and an assortment of dangerous weapons, whether traditional or modern, in the name of Christmas.
Surely there is no wrong way of doing the right thing.
We, especially the male of our species, are notorious for our acts of brutality.
What other living species other than mankind “beat eggs”, “whip cream”, “crack jokes” and “kill time”, while making merry?
- Avoid drinking and driving at all costs. Since the first driver-negligent accident was reported, thousands, if not millions, of people have lost their lives on roads worldwide in road carnages that could have easily been averted.
The first recorded case of a pedestrian killed in a collision with a motor car in the UK happened at Crystal Palace in London on August 17 1896 – just a few decades following the invention of the motor vehicle – when the driver was distracted by a beautiful woman, resulting in the death of 44-year-old Bridget Driscoll.
We should enjoy drinks in the safety of our homes or in the company of trusted friends.
Surely it is far better to be safe than sorry. Why die in good health?
- Discard long-borne grudges in the dust bin of history and apply the “forget and forgive” principle of utmost ubuntu, botho. If we cannot forget, at least we can try to forgive and give peace a chance.
Why should we cling to memories that bring us nothing but tears and pain when life is so short?
Let us rub our eyes and purify our hearts.
- Treat abandoned, homeless and elderly folks, and those infected with and affected by HIV/Aids, with kindness, understanding and tolerance, and make them feel loved.
- Rid ourselves of odious xenophobia and treat our fellow brothers and sisters from other African countries with tolerance, rather than calling them derogatory names.
- Financially better-off folks should stop showing off and refrain from purchasing and giving away expensive presents that may not mean much or anything to those they are intended for when food parcels would go a long way.
What good is a singing Christmas card on an empty stomach?
- Spare women and children from being hapless and helpless victims of any form of abuse – be it physical, psychological, mental or spiritual – at the hands of men who are supposed to be their guardians, protectors and positive role models, not “raw models”.
Why should we honour our women-folk only on their birthday or on Mother’s Day and Women’s Day?
That is not good enough. Surely they deserve far better than that.
As we enjoy ourselves, shall we count our God-given blessings and go down on our knees to give thanks to the good Lord, while praying for the less fortunate folks to whom Christmas Day is just another day, with nothing to eat, nothing to drink and nothing to rejoice about?
Shall we toss leftovers into the garbage bin and watch the next person starve to death?
Shall we be such selfish and heartless people? As much as selfishness makes Christmas a burden, it is compassion that makes it a time of sheer delight.
When last did you do one good deed for the day, such as helping an elderly person cross a busy street?
Have you ever tried to reach out and touch somebody’s life with a gentle word or kind gesture?
American civil rights activist, Baptist minister and Nobel peace prize laureate Martin Luther King Jr aptly said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Mthethwa is a concerned citizen