Toxic Parents and Our Last Christmas Light

Last week was the peak of the holiday season here in London and I met a gorgeous lady whom I regarded as a stranger before. We just met out of nowhere and we talked a lot on a day. But that particular day is quite special that I would like to always remember. She invited me over a coffee and then started to talk seriously about her problem, which I could not consider simple. We ended up talking about toxic parent and I let her talk while I just kept listening to her.

“I am desperately tired of finding someone who is able to just listen and not judging,” she opened up the conversation. And I humbly asked what her problem is.

She started to complain about her negative things that came continuously to her, making her to feel out of breath. She complained about her research study and her desperation for always having a negative result while not having enough support or finding someone to really help her.

“In particular,” she said, “I am also exhausted about my family.” She then said about how toxic her parents is since she never really feels that her parents really support her. “It is only about lip service. My mother always says she prays for me while I never think she really does from what she always does to me. Everytime I complained about my life, seeking for a comfort from a family, while I always get back from her is always something negative in return. Until a point yesterday where she just gave me a negative news happened to my family a month ago which she could have been said it to me on that day rather than waiting for me saying to her that I am burnt out with my stuffs. It just supports my assumption that my parents are really toxic, they just never support what I love to do since I was a teenager although they knew there was nothing wrong with it. I even regard them to be over protective. And now while I am pursuing my degree and nothing wrong with it, it still seems to be the same way”

I started to understand her situation. It does seem that she is really tired with her stuffs and she could not rely on her family. She feels the family only brings her confusion. Family is supposed to be the first point where she finds love and comfort. She probably feels it to some extent but when it turns out to be doing what she loves, the family starts to be a real obstacle, and her parents in particular. She said that she expects her family to support her but it always turns the other way around.

We then started to do a bit of research about the feeling of this hatred feeling against parent and we ended up talking about toxic parents. In short, toxic parents are parents who can only think about themselves and expect their kids to not upset them. I think the situation resembles quite well with my friend’s situation. Her parents always expect her to make them happy while not the other way around. She told me that everytime she thought that she made her parents upset, it would end up in a passive aggression way. It usually ended up where she did not talk for days with her parents until a point where everything blew up and went out of control and she even sometimes run out of her home just to run away from it. This passive aggression is also one indication of a toxic parent since a good parenting should involve active communication. Also, one day she told me that she had a boyfriend and although there was nothing wrong with her boyfriend, her mother just asked her to break up with him just because she did not like him. She feels that her parents, in particular her mother, are just so toxic and really want to get an absolute control of her.

I then said to her that I could understand her situation but I could not help much since I do not have any right to talk to her parents. I just said to her, “Sometimes I think that we are here right now because our parents decided at the beginning to get married and to have kids. And then it is their duty to make us happy and not the other way around. Because, we never really ask before that we should be born from them or in this way right?” She just kept silent and smiled, “But you cannot change that fate once you are born.” And I replied, “So just let’s change what we can change.”

And after we finished the coffee, I just took her to Oxford Street, lending her my camera so she could enjoy the lights and took some beautiful picture and also lending my music player while it was playing Coldplays’s Christmas Light.

Those Christmas lights

Light up the street

Down where the sea and city meet

May all your troubles soon be gone

Oh Christmas lights keep shining on

And now the festive season has ended and I do hope she feels better now…

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Happy Post-Christmas!

Christmas celebration has just ended but its euphoria is still overwhelming people who celebrate it perhaps until New Year comes. Christmas is actually a religious event, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. However, as time goes on, the religious importance of the celebration evades slowly. True, Christian people will still be going to church to celebrate this event. However, it no longer has a religious essence in a whole. This is a Post-Christmas.

The term of Post-Christmas can be more or less correlated with post-modernism regarding the disappearance of unity on how we view something. In essence, Christmas means a joyful condition covered in modesty. As Jesus was birth in a homeless condition in a stable, it clearly depicts how joyful condition is not limited to the presence of worldly things.

However, the situation is absolutely different right now. In some countries, Christmas is usually followed by Boxing Day just one day after Christmas: December 26th. In this day, there will be many people going outside their home at nearly 5 or 6 in the morning or even from the midnight just for queuing in a shopping center. People will pack across a city center to go shopping because most of the shopping centers offer “Sale” on their products. People can then buy their desired stuffs even at very low cost compared to normal price.

Even in a country where Boxing Day is not officially celebrated, people will also get packed in shopping centers because similar offers do also exist. Take Indonesia as an example, a Muslim-majority country. Even though Christians are only minority in this country, the huge “Sale” offered by shopping centers resemble the euphoria of Boxing Day elsewhere though it is very rare to see people queuing from the early morning. But, same phenomenon is clearly happening.

On one hand this condition does absolutely make sense. Joyful atmosphere brought by Christmas is nowadays celebrated by wrapping up gifts that can be given to others or to ourselves. Sharing joy is then important in Christmas celebration. On the other hand, consumerism that takes place during the Christmas actually negates the Christmas itself. Its religious importance then disappears because Christians are then more interested with the shopping experience itself and neglects the fact that Jesus was born in homeless condition.

Thus, is there a right way to celebrate Christmas aside from going to the church regularly? I would not like to give an exact answer to this question but only a little reflection. In a condition where poverty, disease and many difficulties are still lingering a society, there will always a better way to expend the money rather than going shopping for ourselves. They are actually a reminder that people should act in accordance with justice so they can preserve it by trying to removing injustice lingering others. Just spending a little money for them, in my opinion, has contributed in bringing back the Christmas itself. Does it mean then Christians should be prevented from going shopping? In my opinion it is very hard to achieve this point. Furthermore, Post-Christmas is actually an undeniable fact in a globalized world. Thus, what should be prevented is to become greed and excessive because we should realize that there are many people outside living in dire circumstances who need our help. And perhaps, this can be a median for celebrating Christmas. Happy Post-Christmas!

Why Should People Debate About “Merry Christmas” Greeting?

Greeting “Merry Christmas” to Christians from Moslem people in Indonesia is debatable. Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) has long prohibited Moslem for doing such actions. The reasons behind such policy are indeed the private sphere of Moslem which I cannot explain at the very best way. In regard of the reason, I prefer readers to ask individually to MUI about the policy. What I would like to underline in this article is about emphasizing the importance for using our reason: the best gift endowed from Our Creator. Furthermore, I would also like to talk about the priority objection above the greeting case.

Using reason

“Merry Christmas” is a greeting. Moreover, it is only a phrase comprised of two words. It actually has no mean other than saying that “Merry Christmas.” Thus, why should it become a problem? As I have said before, it is not my objective to define and explain specifically the reasons. I would like rather to take account of it from the point of view of the Christians.

As I have also said that “Merry Christmas” is about a phrase. Thus, why should it be a source of debate? Why do not people also debate about saying “Good Morning” or anything else? Does it because it has something to do with religion then it should be taken seriously? From my point of view, there is nothing special in regard of the greeting. I know that I would feel that I am respected if I have been given such greeting. But, above all, I do not mind if my Moslem friends do not give the greeting because of their faith. Does life consist of choices and people are free to make their choice? If I am the defender of pluralism, why should I insist Moslem people to say “Merry Christmas” to me? Were it the case, I would become the very paradox of pluralist defender. Thus, I thought that it is actually not worth to debate about the greeting. I do not mind if I am not greeted but what I would take the opposite standpoint in regard of another case related to this.

It is true that people are free to make a choice regarding several issues. But, it would be very regrettable if people make choice arbitrarily and do not use their reason properly. In this case, they do not make proper consideration why they choose something. Rather, they have chosen something blindly. Why should then people choose something using their reason? It is because reason is the best gift ever endowed by God. If people never use their reason in considering their decision, it will be very useless the mind bestowed to them. Thus, in using reason and mind in considering their choices, people are really free; they are not bound by several dogmas that will prevent them from critical thinking. Moreover, by using them properly, people are really human beings and not the slave of others.

If then Moslem people have deliberated properly to not give a “Merry Christmas” greeting for their Christians’ friends, I thought it would be very well: we should respect their choice as free people. But, it would be very regrettable if they just follow the dogma without have to play their ability to critically think about everything. The later case that should be debatable rather than discussing about should I give my Christian friend a “Merry Christmas” greeting because it will depend upon their reason.

The priority objection

It is clear then from my point of view that “Merry Christmas” greeting is not that important if the people refuse for doing so have deliberated and choose not to do the action, not just by following the dogmatic phrase. Still overwhelmed by the Christmas atmosphere, the priority objection of the Day is not about greeting but about intolerance case that is still taking place in the country. This is the true problem that has to be faced by Indonesians and not just debate about “Merry Christmas” greeting.

In 2012 Christmas Day, GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia people still faced intolerance in regard of their worship building. They still cannot afford the permit to construct the worship-building. As has been reported from several activists, they then choose to conduct the mass in front of the Presidential Palace but as can be easily predicted, there is no conscience showed by the President or the Vice President in regard of the case. The question is: if President can give direct command in regard of KPK case, why cannot he give the same in regard of the intolerance case?

From my point of view, what does make the greeting case and intolerance case different is when the former is located in the private sphere, the later is actually located in public sphere. Tolerance is not about private sphere because it has something to do with giving others the chance to conduct their religious practices. It is about civic goodness rather than promoting individual goodness.

I will be very disturbed then if I know that there is a person who has consciously decided not to say “Merry Christmas” but on the other hand he/she does not promote tolerance and keep silence in regard of the GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia case. In the case, I would rather say that such people have not used their mind properly because when they have achieved the degree of consciousness where diversity is realized, they should actually promote tolerance in order to maintain the diversity.

From this short essay, what I would like to say is absolutely clear. It is not the greeting that Indonesia actually needs. This country, endowed with people with many diverse backgrounds, has a bigger issue rather than a greeting: intolerance case that always brings our brothers and sisters live in a horrible way of being assaulted by others. This is actually the value that we should promote in this Christmas Day, regardless of your view about giving the greeting if you have chosen it rationally.