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What Some Politicians Can Learn from Santa | By Stéphane Erickson

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more” 

– Dr. Seuss

Every year, Santa travels across the world to deliver millions of gifts to children of all ages, all creeds, from all backgrounds and walks of life. On December 25th, countless boys and girls wake up to the magic of Christmas, believing in the charity, selflessness and goodwill of Santa and his elves.

But imagine if Santa saw the world through the cold and uncompassionate eyes of fiscal obsession, money and greed. Just imagine if Santa wanted to be paid for his deeds, and if children were expected to dish out a service fee for the delivery of their gifts under their Christmas trees – an extra 15% for houses that do not have a chimney. Imagine a Holiday Season only available to the wealthy, to the kings of capitalism and to the queens of economic prosperity, while the less fortunate are left behind to the shadows of poverty, to the barrenness of hopelessness, and to the closets of shame. Imagine a Christmas empty of generosity and empathy, deprived of humanity and mercy. Indeed, if Santa were to view his international operation through the tunnel vision of economic prosperity, he would have cut services to many by now, the repercussions obviously being most devastating for the poorest and most defenceless sectors of society. Thankfully, he does not define one’s merit by economic wealth and gain, but rather by one’s goodness, love and kindness contributed to the betterment of the world.

Imagine if Santa was a bad diplomat, and opined that diplomacy was a waste of money. Imagine if Santa’s foreign policy de-prioritized international aid, women’s rights, environmental projects, and humanitarian support. Just imagine if Santa only saw worth in countries that contributed to his own wealth and security, and that adhered to his system of values. Indeed, it would be difficult for Santa to cross all the world’s borders if his reputation and standing within the international community was tarnished. Thankfully, the message he conveys to the leaders of the world is one of peace and humility; not of one rooted in judgement and self-righteousness.

Imagine if Santa showed no – or very little – concern for the environment. Imagine if he saw no meaning in scientific research, and instead actively contributed to the silencing of environmental academics and professionals in the field. Just imagine if Santa thought of our oceans, our forests, and our land as an opportunity for exploitation, and of our wildlife as collateral damage. Indeed, it would be alarming if Santa was ignorant of Mother Nature, of the great threats she faces, and of the continuance of support she will need in the years to come. Thankfully, living in the North Pole, and relying on wildlife to fly him across the globe, Santa cannot underestimate the importance of the environment.

Imagine if Santa ruled with an iron fist. Imagine if Santa saw the world in terms of black and white, and refused to deliver gifts to all those who had committed mistakes throughout the year. Imagine a Christmas with no clemency, with no pity. Just imagine an unforgiving Mr. Claus who saw criminals as unworthy of Christmas, as monsters, as subpar citizens. Thankfully, Santa’s justice does not deal in absolutes and in misguided and foolish ideas of law and order. His Christmas message is quite the opposite: reconcile, rekindle, be merciful and love. We would otherwise all be on his Naughty List, permanently.

Imagine if Santa was possessed by the demon of power. Imagine if Santa’s Christmas was a one-man show. Imagine if he did not stand for dissent, if he did not tolerate opposition. Many children, as they get older, stop believing in him. For a myriad of reasons, they eventually refuse to recognize his existence. They stop writing. They stop having faith in the magic and beauty of Christmas. But just imagine if Santa stopped believing in all those who stopped believing in him. Thankfully, he does not. Santa’s dream for a more peaceful, loving and charitable Earth is everlasting. He does not castigate those who no longer listen to his Christmas message, nor does he try to silence those who speak against his yearly reminder of humanity and compassion.

Thankfully, Santa’s public policy encompasses a wider range of values than certain of our own political leaders. It goes above politics and beyond the economy, it values dialogue between all nations, it makes sacred the relationship between humanity and Mother Nature, it replaces the iron first with the helping hand, and it’s a reminder that power for the sake of power achieves nothing. In the New Year, some of our leaders could consider taking a lesson from Santa’s Christmassy ways. After 2013, God only knows some of them should.

 

Stéphane Erickson holds a Bilingual Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and is currently a J.D. and LL.L. candidate in the Programme de droit canadien at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

Photo courtesy from Owen on Flickr

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