MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Let’s smile because we are stronger than the problems around us

We are yet again in the annual season when we joyfully celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the universal symbol of love and goodwill to all men. As we therefore felicitate with Christians all over the world, we remind them of the Christmas message of Pope Francis that a season like this deserves a bit of silence to hear the voice of love. “Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colours that adorn your life. The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love. The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite. You are also a Christmas light when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity”, said the Pontiff.

Ordinarily, Christmas is a period that reminds us most urgently of the need to give to those who have less, including those with whom we may not share the same religious beliefs. These are the seasonal gifts that help to soften our outlook as we reach across the various artificial divides we have unwittingly created. What Christmas truly demands is for us to help the less fortunate among us, be honest in our dealings with one another and show kindness to people regardless of their race, religion or colour.

Beyond the decoration of streets and houses with special festoons and rosettes, exchange of gifts and singing of carols, Christmas is usually a good time to build bridges across differences. The season enjoins us to build an ethic of human solidarity aimed at promoting the common good and the welfare of fellow men and women. This is a message that will serve our country men and women today. At this Christmas, let us reflect a bit and resolve to support a democratic process that brings out the best candidates, an election process that is free, fair, transparent and peaceful. Let us be that Christmas angel that sings the message of peace, love and national cohesion.

Meanwhile, we should also not forget the spiritual essence of this season. Christmas, after all, is a time of God showing His great love for mankind. It is also a time for healing and renewed strength. God gave us His greatest gift through His Son becoming man and redeeming the world and it was all through His love for us. We need to emulate that love and show it through our actions. We can also use this time to repair broken relationships, heal the wounds with neighbours and those we have wronged and rekindle a new life as we regain hope, laughter and dance.

In Nigeria, there is a lot that citizens can draw from this season as we seek to build a better society for ourselves and generations to come. The economy may not be working as it should while politics may be more synonymous with hypocrisy, but we cease to live when we cease to hope. And we cease to hope when we give in to despair. And despair comes when we lose the appetite to smile and laugh even at our problems. As a famous character in the late Prof Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart” admonished, “Let’s smile not because we don’t have problems but because we are stronger than the problems.”

There is no better time than today to put up that lost smile in your face and join the uncountable numbers of people around the world in celebration.

To all our readers, Merry Christmas!