Christmas is a the time when a manger is lifted above all the castles and bungalows. Christmas is also a sad remainder that all our collective manhood doesn’t become equal to a child and all our seriousness go asunder at the laughter of this child.
Birth of Jesus is an invalidation. It invalidates our pompanos, pretensions and luxuries. What christmas validates is a marginality and a boundary where things are not laden with importance but with a suppleness and tenderness.
As this child is taking centre stage in this festive season, suddenly all begins to speak romantically about a lost child hood. All are seeking a way to a child. Is it possible? Can we ever become a child? Can we regain that lost innocence? Can we go back to our mother’s womb?
Perhaps Nietzsche, that great atheist and mad prophet can show us a way back. Nietzsche detested everything that is shallow: shallow mysticism, shallow ideas, shallow piety, shallow man (woman is often shallow because of their morbid interest in appearance). He preferred lie to a shallow truth. Profundity is all he sought.
Nietzsche envisages three stages to reach this profundity in his famous book, Thus spoke Zarathustra.
In the first stage we should be a camel. We should live an arid life going through all the possible hardships. This stage is marked by unwillingness to be consoled. A comfortable life becomes a distraction and agreeable death. If you don’t become a Camel you will end up to be a hedonist. A hedonist grow up swallowing entertainments. He is a “specialist without spirit, a sensualist without heart”
A camel faces a desert which it has to tread with minimum of water. In the lack of resources it learns to be resourceful. A desert is you place yourself within a exhausting solitude of an eternity. It is where you are tested with extremeness of suffering and solitude. Why one should love suffering? Suffering is the inescapable feature of human life and it is what “”what makes the spectacle of human life on this planet something worthwhile and valuable” and “to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning is suffering”. Your worthiness lies in enduring.
Second is the stage of a Lion. Don’t remain forever in the stage of a Camel. You should move forwards as your spirit screams for authenticity. So must become a ferocious lion shedding all your feathers of a dove. You must fight against everything that is conventional. In this stage one must learn to negate. Here you just don’t compromise and you come to know the basic truth about you that “ I rebel therefore I exist” (Camus). The camel is only a beast of burden. A beast of prey is required for the task of capturing freedom. The might of the lion can perform the task at hand. Who is to be the lion’s victim? “It seeks here its ultimate lord: it will be an enemy to him and to its ultimate God, it will struggle for victory with the great dragon”. The great dragon, which the lion will battle for its freedom, is called “Thou Shalt.”
The lion is victorious. It has uttered the sacred “No” to the dragon. One thing remains: the lion is not capable of creating new values for itself. It is merely a warrior. Its talent lies in destruction. For creation, another metamorphosis must take place: the lion must become a child.
“But tell me, my brothers, what can the child do that the lion cannot? The child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a sport, a self-propelling wheel, a first motion, a sacred Yes”. When you become this child life is no more a reactive struggle to defeat other forces. It is perpetual recreation. You see everything newly with the wide eyes of a child. You don’t contempt anything. You appreciate and praise everything. You become like a child in the play ground with eternal joy of not being asked to do (camel) and not rebelling against what asked to do(lion) but finding joy in doing and creating things newly. More specifically you are beyond all good and evil”. It is by becoming a child that you overcome all the dualities of life.
Christmas is paradox, a paradox that God is born as a child. Perhaps is is in this child that all the paradox is solved, power and weakness are solved, God and man is merged. We forget our dualities and differences of man and woman, child and old, evil and good. Salvation and damnation., saint and sinner. We are all and we are not all.
In a brief time this child will grow up and say “Before Abraham was, I am”. At the moment the time also will be crumbled at his feet. This Child is beyond past, present and future. That is what we call as eternity…….captured by a child.
I hope this Nietzschean reading may help us to probe our naive understanding of childhood and innocence.