Seasons Greetings Hollow Wish

Personal Writings

           Mexico City       The bursts sounded like thunder, first one, and then others on Christmas Eve.  They started again more regularly about 430 am on Christmas morning.  This intermittent roar will continue much of the day in Mexico City.  It takes a conscious effort to remember that these are fireworks and a sign of celebration for many, even it if sounds literally like “bombs bursting through the night.”  Rationally, you know this is not a problem, but as you read the morning headlines, it is hard not to emotionally imagine the terror and fear that families just like yours are facing in the Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan, and too many places around the world.  How do we balance feeling relief, joy, and tragic sadness simultaneously?

For a brief second last night, mi companera, thought she was reading a headline on X-Twitter saying that Israel was backing off of its bombing campaign.  The more she read, the more quickly we realized she was seeing a story about division over the bombing starting to grow within the Israeli cabinet about the bombing.  All of the morning headlines led with more reports of bombing and death, where the count by the generally reliable Palestinian Health Authority has now put the numbers over 20,000.

The so-called “unity” cabinet must wonder in their private deliberations what is really being accomplished.  The hostages taken by Hamas in their massacre are still not recovered.  Israeli soldiers have even killed several, supposedly mistakenly, but almost predictably in this war where the rules of engagement make so few distinctions.  Reports indicate that the number of Hamas fighters killed is a relative percentage of the dead, maybe, 7000 of the estimated 30,000, certainly significant, but nowhere near the stated goal of annihilation.  There have been no reports of Hamas key leadership being killed or captured.  Reports in both the Times and the Journal, indicate that much of the money flowing to support the Hamas effort has not been restricted while being channeled through Turkey and the Gulf states.  No stated military objectives seem to have been met, yet the same tactics are maintained, as the civilian death toll increases.

The warmakers on both sides must be mystified at how to define winning and losing at this point, while the world recoils in horror, condemns both sides, and cries everywhere for the war to end.  It only takes a look at Ukraine to know what a killing and bombing slog looks like where there is no endgame in sight, and the gains won in blood are measured in feet and inches with no clear winners.  Even the very existence of stories that add up the differences and similarities between Gaza and the Vietnam War should be chilling to anyone with a shred of memory or historical understanding.  None of this will end well.

Yet, this is the season where once there were calls for peace.  Doves still find their way on Christmas cards and store windows.  The Pope and the UN issue calls.  There are still fireworks in Mexico City.  Our family and organizational WhatsApp groups are filled with best wishes and internet Christmas trees and baubles.  Nonetheless, when we wish anyone Season’s Greetings, how cannot think about this particular season around the world, and not find the words hollow and meaningless?