Monday, December 19, 2005

the other Xmas story...

The Age reminds us of the real Xmas story, not the over-hyped one about a bearded cherub with a thing for reindeer (which was a sales pitch by Coca Cola), but the story of a refugee family seeking sanctuary from soldiers sent out to slaughter all males under two.

"Mary, Joseph and Jesus escaped the massacre, and fled into exile in Egypt, staying there until Herod died. So Jesus, the prophesied saviour, spent the first years of his life as a refugee, knowing fear and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers.

These stories have been part of the foundation of Western culture, and it might be expected, even in a Western country such as Australia where the tradition of faith is weaker than it once was, that they would continue to influence the way we treat refugees and strangers in our midst. But the resentment of asylum seekers that has become so powerful a force in our politics, and the hostility towards members of the community seen as "un-Australian" suggest we have got used to seeing nothing but the sugar-frosted version of the Christmas story. And how strange and sad it is that some people, who claim to be defending "Western values" or "Australian values", seem so unaware of the foundation of those values.

No comments: