Column: Burchall On “‘Tis The Season”

December 24, 2015

[Opinion column written by Larry Burchall]

To most of us, we’re in the Christmas season. I was reared in the Christian faith and tradition, so I and my family observe Christmas.

To those who follow the new tradition of Kwanzaa or who follow the older Jewish or Muslim traditions, then like me, you’ll celebrate within your own tradition.

With an adult family spread over 3,000 miles, it’s difficult to have the kind of whole family Christmases that I grew up with and that I still cherish. But modern communications and ‘facetime’ diminishes that distance and puts distant loved ones as close as a laptop on your knee or a tablet in your hand.

For many in Bermuda, this Christmas will bring perhaps a little less joy but more importantly, a little more uncertainty; and uncertainty is more difficult to live with.

Overseas, ISIL or ISIS or however they style themselves, have erupted out of the disintegrating countries of Libya, Syria, and Iraq. As the Paris killings showed, this group is able to blast its twisted messages into the lives of millions of ordinary people who thought that the ancient fact of distance protected them from the spill and splash bubbling out of the Middle East’s many boiling cauldrons.

The killings in San Bernardino in California seem to have an indirect attachment to ISIS. And Europe appears to be reconsidering its open borders Schengen Treaty. As with many Christmases past, this Christmas is not without an undercurrent of violence and confrontation.

Today, distance is no longer a protection. We are all as close to ISIS or ISIL as we are to our next door neighbour; which is the big lesson from San Bernardino.

Thirteen years ago, in the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Centre atrocity, I wrote and published a book, “The Rise Of The Faceless And The Internet Warrior”.

In that book, I described how and why the world’s faceless poor could and would reach out for power, could and would acquire power, and could and would use that power to wage war on the peoples of the developed and rich Western economies and society.

The ‘war of the faceless’ has always been fought. People like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Lula DaSilva were amongst the kind of ‘faceless’ people I was describing. Others would include the millions of nationals displacing from their own countries [Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Syria, ….].

With Europe dealing with the flood of refugees crossing their borders, and considering re-imposing border checks; it’s clear that the world’s poor and ‘faceless’ people are making a new impact on the rich West.

Back in the 1600’s to 1800’s, when poor and ‘faceless’ Europeans were migrating to North America and, in time, decimated and subjugated the Native Americans who they found on the continent, there was little thought given to the principles of fairness and equality. Then, it was the primitive system of he who had the more efficient killing and people displacement systems usually won and took over the geographic space.

I fear that in our now more crowded world, semblances of that old brutal but effective set of values may be returning. As a result of a reversion to brutality, we may see, but I hope that we don’t, a planned movement by ISIS/ISIL to have a ‘wave’ of bloody attacks coincide with this Christian Christmas.

I hope not.

There is a bright star though. In the Paris Climate Change talks, 195 separate nations created a historic first by all 195 agreeing to the content of one document setting out what must be achieved in order to begin limiting global climate change.

This is an historic first. Poignantly, this world agreement was reached on a day when, 100 years before, in December 1915, the ‘world’ was bloodily involved in the first half of World War l; and the men of Bermuda’s BVRC were in the frontline trenches on the Western Front.

I started with Christmas in my mind. I’ll return to that.

I and my wife plan to spend Christmas peacefully and quietly in our Bermuda, have our daughter with us on that day, and use the magic of the Internet to talk to our son and his wife who are over 5,000 kms away.

I hope that you and all yours have a quiet and happy Christmas; and I hope that all over the world, peace reigns and nothing evil mars this period.

Have a Happy Christmas.

- Larry Burchall

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Comments (3)

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  1. hey says:

    A bit of a leap on the faceless. Those folks have always been faces.

    I interpreted that as the faceless nobody folks who remained faceless but were so much to others. Your redefinition would have to include X Factor, American Idol, Big Brother, and the many reality cooking, building, wives, Paris Hilton, storage WARS, gold mining and on and on folks turned into household names through the ever present virus known as reality TV.

  2. bluwater says:

    It’s not the faceless poor waging a war on the West. They’ve been taken in by the thousands and hundreds of thousands in Europe, Scandinavia and Canada. There are stresses, yes, but the process is continuing.

    It’s the well known royal oligarchs and despots in the middle east who are exploiting the faith of their population to their own benefit. They reward religious fanaticism and ideologies that suppress women, girls and diversity of culture and religion. They must be named and shamed.

  3. Vulcan Trash Cleaner says:

    Larry Burchall]’s Column always appeals to me,I find it unbiased and true,unlike the many others that write on the local media that clearly have their own warped agenda to sow.
    Happy Christmas to You and your Lady Wife and Family.