Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

A Christmas paradigm we must avoid

27th December 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

At this proverbial time of proclaiming glory to God in heaven and peace on earth to people of good will, we dote on the nostalgic memories of Christmases past and we live the sweet melancholy of dear relatives and friends who are forever in God’s kingdom.

Some of us have to do battle with SAD, seasonal affective disorder, that is every bit as real as the dreary, wet, cold wintry weather that helps trigger it. The U.S. northeast and northwest sectors as well as similar areas around the world are notorious for SAD, although the disorder is found sporadically around other sections of the country.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and the storied season of giving, except in those quarters where people think they alone should be the main recipients of the giving. Today’s Scrooges are to be found wherever there is other people’s money to be had and used, sometimes wastefully and at times illegally, until it is exhausted.

With the Greek cynic philosopher Diogenes, perhaps we should begin to carry a lamp around in the daytime, looking for an honest man — or woman. Maybe Diogenes’ inference is that searching at night is futile, as we know from incidents like July 13/14, 1977 in New York City when a blackout resulted in looting, arson and other disorders.

When caught, Wall Street traders are jailed for inside trading, but some of our vaunted public servants, aka senators and representatives, are not jailed for the same sins. Their many perquisites — that none of us, their bosses, have — are actually things that do not further their effectiveness on the job. Yet, they are not satisfied with all that.

Long departed from gift-giving, those characters have elevated gift-taking to an art form that is rare indeed. The said gifts, of course, are not gifts at all, but simply resources, properties and monies lying in wait to be scooped up by predatory raptors. Some of these raptors parade as donkeys while others suit out as elephants. This somehow befits them.

Is the wondrous story, lore and grace of Christmas to be blunted and annulled by the selfish, trifling greed and ambitions of a few Grinches and Scrooges who care about no one but themselves and their own interests? Will our strength as a nation be weakened because we, the represented, battle to make a living while representatives live high on the hog? Instead of using the system to serve us, they are gaming the system.

“Oh, the games people play now, every night and every day now!” the song of yesteryear goes. But the problem of most people is that the politicos are playing with taxes, other people’s money, not their own. We do mean the politicians who have spent themselves into being broke in Greece, Italy and a brace of countries around Europe.

Are our own myopic politicians learning a lesson from our secular progressive overseas friends? Up to this point, apparently not much. Overgrown children, they play their silly games of party and ideology, spending money that is not really available cash but borrowed, while the economy tanks, housing crashes, jobs sputter and bills pile up.

In a charade of the blind leading the blind and the fox guarding the henhouse, our stalwart lawmakers/lawbreakers, even as we speak, are crafting the “Stock Act” to stop themselves from using insider information to fatten their chances in trading stock. People who must make a law to stop themselves from acting illegally are a law to themselves.

But it’s not only the rich and privileged who game the system. A Star-Telegram newspaper study of Tarrant County documents shows that squatters claimed and looted other people’s houses in Fort Worth and numerous suburbs valued at more than $8 million.

Such chaos results from a state law loophole that allows squatters to claim property if no owner is on hand to challenge the claim. So squatters are claiming houses “proven” abandoned by filing affidavits of adverse possession with county clerks for a $16 filing fee, keeping up with property taxes and pledging to live in the house at least three years.

Properties whose owners have died or are absent because of job duties or illness are at risk. Some property owners have returned home to find their houses trashed or looted.

While we rail against our misleaders in these times of little and sometimes none, we cannot afford to forget that peace, service and honesty begin with us individually. We will rise above gaming the system by living and spreading the true message of Christmas.

This article was originally published in the December 26, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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