By Isaac Asabor
There is no denying the fact that as we are now in the month of December that we are already in the season when security forces traditionally put strategies in place to ward off criminal activities in a bid to maintain law and order during the yuletide season. It is unarguably the period when security officials are expected to assure both shoppers and traders that security agents would sweep the streets and implement measures to allay anxiety about crime.
The reason for the foregoing expectations cannot be farfetched as this is the period when there seems to be a surge in robberies and other types of acquisitive crimes as well as elevated public disorder in and around towns and cities.
Besides, profiteering is another anomaly that tends to rear its ugly heads during Christmas season; particularly from the month of December. The question now been asked by many consumers is, “Has profiteering desecrated Christmas?” Many people in the Christendom will no doubt be hasty to claim it has, and there is reason to think that the contemporary celebration of Christmas is incompatible with Christianity. This can be understood most simply by juxtaposing the birth, life and message of Jesus Christ of Nazareth with the civic rituals of Christmas.
At this juncture, it is expedient to say that both selfish propensities, to put it mildly, are in this context classified as “Do or Die Mindset”. Moreover, it is not out of place to say that criminals and profiteers make the celebration of Christmas bleak for others by literarily throwing them into a state of anxiety and hardship throughout the period of the festivity. There is no denying the fact that this categories of Nigerians have misunderstood the real meaning and significance of the birth of Christ which was importantly based on hope, expectation, love, justice, peace, good will and forgiveness.
Far from being sanctimonious in this context, permit me to remind these categories of Nigerians that this is the time of the year when the yuletide ought to bring us both celebration and serenity as we observe the birth of the Christ Child and reflect on the year, 2020, that is about to go down in history as one of the worst years ever witnessed by humankind. Without any iota of exaggeration, the year 2020 has been synonymous with biting hardship in Nigeria; this is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted on the economy coupled with the EndSARS Violence which spontaneously jolted everyone; whether rich or poor.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to appeal to Nigerians in this context to eschew the mindset of making others insecure and nervous throughout the season. Rather, it should be a season where every Nigerian should crave the desire to reach out with love and compassion to one another, particularly the most susceptible, the most challenged and those in greatest need of support. You may have asked, why? The reason cannot be farfetched as they are central to the message of Christmas. The Christmas Story told in school plays and in churches across the country is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. Jesus’ parents, a very pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph (noted to be a Carpenter) must have faced considerable hardship and challenges as they journeyed for about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. One can imagine how fearful and how vulnerable Mary might have felt when her baby was about to arrive and she had no place to stay. Jesus’ birth in a humble stable is itself a message to us all. Indeed, the entire Christmas story represents a lesson to all of us. That like Mary, many of us will face challenges and hardships but if we have hope, faith, and perseverance, great things can happen even from the most modest of circumstances.
Christmas reminds us, even as we are about to celebrate it, in the next few weeks, by the Grace of God. It is never the season for cheating others and stealing from others.
Despite how unfavourable year 2020 seems to be since its emergence on the first day of January, we should believe in hope in times of adversity. We should believe in compassion and care for those who are troubled. We should believe that despite its sham and drudgery, it is still a very good year because we are all alive. We should resolve not to go into stealing from others under any guise as doing so would make the celebration meaningless. We should always believe that light shines in the darkness when we reach out with love and kindness to our fellow human beings. It suffices to say that such beliefs are central to the wonderful story of the miraculous birth of Jesus as we look forward to once again celebrate His birth and life.
In my view, it is expedient for everyone in the Christendom to ask whether it really honors Jesus Christ by celebrating His birth in the way it is being done by criminals and profiteers. Jesus Christ, during His earthly ministry did everything well. Mark chapter 7 verse 37 says “They were extremely astonished and said, “He has done everything well!” Given this scriptural injunction, “Are we doing Christmas well the way Jesus Christ would have loved everyone; whether Christian or not, to celebrate His birthday? It is a paradox that despite the unprecedented popularity which Christianity is gaining across the world by each passing day through Pentecostalism that not many people actually understand the essence of Christmas.
It is disappointing to note that only few people understand what Christmas is all about despite the fact that we have many pastors who variously command large crowd of worshippers and seemingly have unrestrained access to the media. Would it not have been better if these pastors enlighten their followers on what the concept of Christmas is all about through the advantageous pedestals they are literarily standing on? The main reason why all pastors should not hesitate in educating their members on the essence of Christmas is that the yearly celebration has been ridiculously bastardized by millions of Christians so much so that it has been characterized with criminality and profiteering.
Be that as it may, I am therefore using this medium to all Nigerians that Christmas is not a season to make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally or in a black market.
In fact, in my view, Christmas season ought to be a season for Christians to individually introspect into their lives and resolve to follow Jesus Christ in His steps. Reiteratively put, it is not a season for engaging in crime and sharp practices.
Finally, it is expedient to mention at this juncture that rather than engage in crime and exploitation, there is need for people to as much as possible strive to abstain from profiteering and stealing throughout the period of the yuletide. Jesus Christ lived a sinless, blameless and transparent life. Simply put, there is need for everyone to eschew stealing and profiteering as we look forward to the celebration of Christmas in less than a month from now.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.