Avoiding the ‘c’ word PART THREE

Board Games. They are part of the festivities yes?  Or as I see them BORED Games.   Monopoly. I’ve never seen something more able to cause dissent in a group of people. Cheating… naked greed… look no  further.  And then there was Trivial Pursuit.  Well, the clue’s in the title.

Personally I see Trivia versus Integrity as the battle of my time.  I am embarked upon ‘A Life Less Trivial’ and it’s quite a journey.  Trivia is quite easily avoided (for me at any rate) but it has begun to occur to me that integrity itself is sometimes a luxury.  And if you’ve been following thus far you’ll know what I think about luxury!

What do I mean, integrity is a luxury? Well, I am  a pacifist. But I have come to appreciate that this is in part a luxury of my upbringing. I’ve never had to confront the real situation where I am forced to choose about taking life. I consider myself lucky. I hope I would remain with my integrity intact if I had to make the choice. My luxury is that I don’t have to consider ‘the end justifies the means’ in anything other than a theoretical context.  Theory and practice don’t always accord though.  Who we want to be and who we are when tested might well be at great variance. My luxury is that I’ve never been thus tested.  I’ve never had to live my theory in practice.

Theoretically, I don’t believe the end ever justifies the means.  But I think that if pushed, my integrity in this position might be sorely tempted. The best I’ve ever come up with is the hope that  I would remain true (as Che Guevara did) to the position that the end does not justify the means but that sometimes, when circumstances dictate that we have to do BAD things to help others, for a greater cause, we should do them.  This is where personal responsibility kicks in.  If you do have to act thus (as Guevara and many others had to) you need to be prepared to take the full responsibility for the ‘bad’ action.  And be prepared to live with the personal and moral consequences. I hope this would be my position should I face the practical challenge. I hope I wouldn’t just give in. As it is, I’m lucky. I’ve never had to sacrifice my integrity to a cause or a reality. It’s the only luxury I’m prepared to allow myself. And it comes at a price. I know that. I’m lucky to be able to afford it.

But of course in reality I do take lives. I do ‘cost’ lives. We all do. Our luxury. Our want. Our aspiration. Everything we do every day is at the indirect cost of someone else’s life. I find that hard to live with. I do what I can to alleviate it. But it’s never enough. I do, however, feel the responsibility. Keenly. I try not to be wasteful of time, money or my skills. I try to share where I can, give when I can. Because I know it’s just an accident of birth that I’m here living this privileged life and I know there are plenty of other people who, if given the same chance, might make a better fist of it.  So at least my responsibility is not to let them down. I feel a responsibility to make the best I can of my life. It’s a daily commitment. And I never forget ‘words that do not match deeds are unimportant.’ So I’m not just saying that!

So much for theory. What of the practical? What will I be eating next week? No idea. Whatever is in the fridge and the polytunnel. We’ll eat well, believe me.  It will include rice, beans and porridge along the way but through choice not necessity.  Come to think of it I don’t even know what day of the week your ‘c’ day is this year, though I’m sure the TV will start reminding me constantly.  I tend to use this time of year to catch up on work, avoid the TV with all its ‘c’ fest, but there’s always some friend or family member will ring to remind me. Thanks for that.

If you’ve read this far I hope you might actually see that I’m not just a miserable old git. This is a matter of principle for me. I’m just a person who genuinely can’t understand the hypocrisy all around me in my society. And who wishes it would change. We don’t have to ‘do’ ‘c’ at all. So if we do it, we choose to do it. I choose not to. Isn’t that the sort of democratic freedom we all aspire towards? And yet, all of you who try to push ‘c’ upon me, or who berate me for not engaging with it on your terms, are you not denying me a freedom? The freedom to opt out.  Could you at least give me that? For Christmas if you must. After all, I’ve just given you the gift of honest opinion.

In the past decade I transitioned from being ‘anti’ capitalist to being ‘non’capitalist in word and deed and next year I’ll try and become ‘non’ Christmas instead of ‘anti’ Christmas.  I have a thought of eating nothing but porridge, rice and beans for a fortnight and donating the money I’d spend on food to charity so that other people get more than that to eat themselves. Now that would be ‘giving’ wouldn’t it?  I don’t imagine it’s a campaign I’d ever get anyone to join, but I’ll keep chipping away at the ‘c’ word. I’ll do what I can. Of course the delicious irony of that may be that in my actions, I may exhibit more of the real spirit of ‘C’ than most of those who ‘celebrate.’  Irony is perhaps one of life’s other modern little luxuries.

So hopefully for us all this is my first and last public ‘anti’ ‘C’ rant. Roll on 2014.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: If you’ve GOT to buy someone something this festive season how about Oxfam Unwrapped or other charitable gifts? There are plenty you can find online with just a couple of mouse clicks!

Or  even better, give your time or love to someone who doesn’t get enough of either.  And give till it hurts. Give to someone who needs it, not just to someone you want to give to! 

But please. Don’t give me ANYTHING. I have more than enough of everything I need.  You can give my share to someone who needs it more.


About callyphillips

2 Responses to Avoiding the ‘c’ word PART THREE

  1. Thanks for posting these 3 really interesting articles. Although not a Christian I tend to think many people in the northern part of the northern hemisphere do benefit from having some sort of a festival in these dark days of December. As far as I’m concerned there is a debate to be had about the form this should take, but I am fine with other people doing it differently from me.

  2. Julia Jones says:

    I think that a gift that works can encapsulate your love for someone even when you’re not there. I think this often about my mother who is always asking me ‘who gave me this?’. It can be a worry – have I thanked them properly. Yes mum you’re really good at thanking. Then she can relax and feel cherished by the warm dressing gown or the pretty mug or the colourful plant. It’s not a substitute for time and love and company, it’s an extension of it

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