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This baroque Christmas

(Photo: Jordan News)
In the spirit exuded by King Abdullah II every year at this holy season, I extend my heartiest congratulations to my Christian brethren here in Jordan, Palestine, and everywhere, wishing them and all of us a merry Christmas and a happy new year.اضافة اعلان

While people reveal their simple pleasures on this occasion, politicians are intent to make it look gothic, or romantically horrible. All we hear these days from the spokesmen of world governments are words of threat, promises of disaster and the usual nomenclature of war like “ or else” or “ if you do, I will …”, and so on.   
This Christmas and the new year may witness unneeded wars and destruction. War-mongering profiteers are continuously working at it. Their words to justify war atrocities are justice, democracy, weeding out evil, nipping terrorism in the bud, etc. The end result is as always, more evil and more mayhem. 

Wars are Gothic, but the periods of preparing for them can be described as baroque. These are complex structures with contradictory themes and rich adornments to make things look impressive. The Baroque art (Caravaggio and Rubens), architecture (Palace of Versailles, St. Peter’s Basilica), or sculpture ( Bernini, de Keyser) are all impressive; and they are meant to be.

In his book titled “The Secret of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country”, William Greider takes us on a trip inside the Federal Reserve System. We find out after reading the detailed accounts and interviews of 800 pages that “this government institution is in some ways more secretive than the CIA and more powerful than the President and the Congress”.

However, the design of the Federal Reserve Bank building in New York, as well as the buildings of all national banks are built in the Baroque style. They remind us of the major temples built that way. 

A regular person is dwarfed as he or she climbs the many high steps leading to a row of Greek-styled pillars and going through a dominant door and high ceilings adorned with more pillars and big paintings. All of these are meant to impress and instill a sense of formidability and reliability in the banks.

In these huge buildings, we, mundane people, are prepared to respect and fear these mundane gods. We idolize their power while we fear them. But, they still manipulate our thoughts, emotions, reactions and inhibitions.

If these gods find it to their advantage to scare us with wars, they will do so. They have got the powers and the means, from hi-tech communication and weaponry to the financial assets and tools, and the incentive to do so. 

In this Christmas season, where good, innocent humans enjoy their little pleasures, act neighborly toward each other and reflect a humanitarian and communal spirit, the untold threat of war looms.  

These Greek idols are strong and untouchable, but not insulated from the follies of the seven deadly sins of gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, lust, envy and pride. Shall the “good” or the “bad” prevail?

Let us all pray for this year in Jordan to be a spirited rainy one. We still can prevail.

Jawad Anani is an economist, and has held several ministerial posts, including former deputy prime minister and former chief of the Royal Court.

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