Here we are in “the in-between,” the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Not quite 2018, but not feeling really 2017. This week is an annual reminder of the Chinese term a “bardo” state—the transition between death and rebirth. According to the “Tibetan Book of the Dead,” what we choose in bardo determines what kind of realm a person gets to experience next. All the hell realms, such as the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, are creations of our hatred, anger and misdirected desires. Although we Americans live in the most materially abundant society in history, we seem particularly attracted to the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, with endless cravings that can never be satiated.
Between Zach Hanner’s “The Greatest Gift” at TheatreNOW, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and enjoying the change of seasons, I reflected with hope on the possibility of positive change. We’re not so bad as a race!
Sure, some of us vote on a tax plan to benefit the rich and kill healthcare options for millions, but, as seen in “The Greatest Gift,” others willingly donate their kidney to a sibling. Sure, some of us see the world like the greedy, grasping, angry, Mr. Potter, from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but I’m confident there are millions and millions of kind-hearted folks out there, like Linus, who understand the “true meaning of Christmas.”
Still glowing with the holiday spirit and the optimism from seeing fellow travelers in the best possible light, I checked my email to read news from friends and family. What good tidings of great joy had landed in my inbox?
Ah! A baby boy for a cousin!
A planned marriage!
And an invitation to another gathering of several friends to celebrate the arrival of three new lives!
Talk about rebirth.
And, then, I noticed an email from our POTUS 45’s campaign organization. (I’m still on their email list to get routine updates and requests for support.) Usually, I dismiss or delete them without reading. But I opened this one because it’s Christmas, and I really do hold out hope POTUS 45 will one day change and begin to learn what Linus knew 50 years ago. The pre-Christmas email to big-league supporters like me included this classy Christmas message:
“You heard it from President Trump from the very beginning: America will once again say ‘Merry Christmas’ just like the good old days. And we’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to all of you, our incredibly loyal supporters, with this FLASH SALE on our 24k-gold-plated MAGA Christmas ornaments.”
So much for my hope of change.
24K-gold-plated MAGA Christmas ornaments? Selling swag for Christmas! POTUS 45 didn’t listen to Linus! They clearly align with his sister, Lucy, and believe Christmas is “a “commercial racket, run by a big Eastern syndicate.” Weren’t the money changers kicked out of the temple at some point? Are we making America great again by going back to the good old days when the money-changers ran the temple?
Advocating going back to “the good old days,” isn’t exactly forward-thinking, innovative, growth-oriented, or science-based. (Can I still write “science-based”?) Besides, would any of us really want to go back to the “good old days” of Windows ‘95? Or Bon Jovi? Or 8-track tapes? Or public lynchings in the South?
I was really starting to lose the holiday spirit.
Wait, “hope” and “change”?
Didn’t America recently elect a poised, intelligent, caring POTUS to the highest office in the land? And wasn’t that campaign based on “hope” and “change”?
I smiled—my hope restored. The current administration (whether it lasts another week or a full term) is merely a bardo state, a transition between rebirths. Sure, we somehow went from a poised president to the King of Hungry Ghosts. But it’s only a temporary hell.
2018 will give us daily opportunities to change, to recommit to each other and steer away from anger, hatred and greed.
Happy New Year!