December 24, 2009

The winter of our discontent? No, it's Christmas time...

It has been snowing these last few days in North-Eastern Italy, and Christmas is a-coming. And to be sincere I would have no wish to talk about politics, but, just like nature, politics has its own times and seasons, and these are special and challenging times—no way to escape from the battlefield (believe me, you people who don’t like war movies, the term is not exaggerated!), nor would I wish this, neither should anyone else in my opinion. So here I am with an end-of-year thought.

While I was reading what Steven (The Metaphysical Peregrine) had to say right here in this very blog last Friday about the US at the end of the year 2009, sometimes I wondered whether he was talking about America or Italy. He denounced what he calls the Obama tyranny, but that’s just the way the Italian and European leftists talk about Berlusconi, the media tycoon who owns or controls most of Italy’s major national newspapers and magazines, TV stations and radio…, which is only partially true, but it doesn’t matter because nobody listens, except for the usual haters.., masters in the art of lying and deceiving, proscribing and despoiling, under a cloak of legality. And that’s what both makes Berlusconi stronger, beyond his real merits, and “the haters” more and more unreliable, beyond their faults (which aren’t exactly child’s play, though). It’s the Nemesis, or, as the old proverb goes, “The devil makes the saucepans, but not the lids.”

What is certain is that both Obama and Berlusconi are not uniters but dividers. Which makes life difficult for us moderates of both trenches (I mean, I consider myself a conservative on many issues, and a liberal on a few, but overall I support conservative parties around the world). In fact, moderates dislike the way some people tend to extremize their views, which often leads them, in the worst cases, to what I would call the intellectualization of political hatred (you know, it’s always the same story: never concede an inch to your opponents, whom must be seen as inherently “evil” or “stupid,” whatever they think, say and do, etc.). But I concede that both in Obama’s case and in that of Berlusconi a certain Manichaeism is somehow more understandable. They are symbols, “representative men,” and that’s what can make them automatically worthy of love or hatred, without half-measures.

Yet, there is a difference between those who target Obama as an American traitor and a “tyrant,” and those who have a similar attitude towards Berlusconi: while the formers fight a political war (which I believe to be well-founded, by the way), the latter prefer ad hominem attacks to serious analysis and a sensible discussion of the issues, which is something I cannot stand, nor do I believe such a “political” approach should ever be acceptable in a civilized country.

So if my American conservative friends have the right to be furious, there are even more reason why their Italian counterparts should be so. That’s why I might say, along with the Poet, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” if it were not that Christmas is so close, and Christmas time
comes once a year… a time to be joyful and happy. So Merry Christmas everyone, conservatives and liberals alike! May God bless you and keep you from harm’s way!


  1. Great post, Rob! I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2010!

  2. I too have been trying to avoid political commentary, thoughts about politics, and focusing on the Event. This is the Eve of the Celebration of the birth of a Man that changed the very way we all think, feel, experience our relationships...I would even say how we all perceive reality. This is the most profound man to walk the planet, and for those of us that are believers, this man is God entering into his own reality, the reality he created. How extraordinary is that?

    On the Eve of this Celebration, we have politicians elected by the people doing everything they can to make the US Constitution moot, and overthrow the government. I don't know how Rob can keep his eye on two continents, and still stay so insightful and observant. This country is all I can abide. I see the politicians in Washington DC, dissing Christians by staying is session on the Eve, and in so doing reflecting that they do hold themselves and the State more important than God. That being the case, it's really hard to totally immerse oneself in family, friends, fellowship, worship, Christmas music, and God.

    For the moment, Let us Adore Him, love our families, love our friends, and commit to those things that lift and fulfill our spirit. That Adoration, that Love, and those relationships based on God's Love will be the best expression of the Season. God Bless Everyone, and Merry Christmas.

  3. Hello Rob, I loved this post and agree with everything you said! These are hard times for quiet thoughtful people, but they must keep up the good fight, and that’s what you are trying to do with your posts! Merry Christmas to you too and your family and a very happy, healthy and blessed new year!

  4. Thank you all my friends. Once again, Merry Christmas! May God bless you and yours in this wonderful season!

  5. I tend to think that the political stances of both wings are timelessly classic. One side tends to claim the moral monopoly, which could be a paradox in itself, whilst the other side tends to claim the monopoly of pragmatic reality and economical know-how etc.
    The latter might be capable, at least in theory, of improving the economy, whilst the former might be capable of using the results of an improved economy to 'general advantage'. Preferably at the highest possible levels, political alternation is essential to democracy.

    But although many of us are disappointed by certain leaders, they may surprise us even yet. They may not be as wrong as we are now inclined to think.

    History shows us that it's not the political tendency that counts in any case, it's the person. It might seem too late for Berlusconi, but who knows? Obama seems to have all the time in the world, but who knows?.

    Merry Christmas to us all, necessary colours of the rainbow.

  6. Once again a great, thoughtful post. I'm a student in political science and international relations at Prague's Charles University and I've been following this blog for some time now, enjoying most of what I read. Thank you for providing such a useful blog!
    Merry Christmas!

  7. @Mirino:

    "Merry Christmas to us all, necessary colours of the rainbow."

    I like this! It reminds me something... the title of a book by Swiss theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar (1905 – 1988), Truth Is Symphonic.

    In that volume von Balthasar writes:

    "Before the Word of God became man, the world orchestra was "fiddling" about without any plan: worldviews, religions, different concepts of the state, each one playing to itself. Somehow there is the feeling that this cacophonous jumble is only "tuning up": the A can be heard through everything, like a kind of promise....

    Then came the Son, the "heir of all things," for whose sake the whole orchestra was put together. As it performs God's symphony under the Son's direction, the meaning of its variety becomes clear."

    (By the way, this is very much tied up with the issue of Christmas!) This means that there is a reason for the existence of the plurality of cultures with their multiplicity of philosophies, religions, histories, concepts of the state. Such a plurality is not purposeless. This also means that there is no way for humans to get a handle on the world’s pluralism, because the selection of instruments is not random but follows a design known initially only to the composer and made public only in the performance.

    I have loved that book ever since I happened to read it by pure ... well, er, no, it was not chance, of course... ;-)

  8. @ Marketa H.:

    Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate them.

  9. It sounds wonderful, and I want to read it myself!

  10. @Rob, the rainbow was an allusion to the comment I wrote recently under your 'Changing how we view Islam'. The words of Frère Roger that Susanna Tamaro cited in her book 'Verso casa'. It's truth should give us, whatever our religion or philosophy, more humility, understanding and appreciation of life itself and the still beautiful world we are blest with.

    I also alluded to this on my very first page of Viewfinder in June, 2008.