Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The Kawana Uniting Church presents a Christmas Festival annually, usually with a terrific interpretation of the events of 2000 years ago, which gave us the reason to celebrate Christmas.

The whole shooting match is topped off with live animals replete with shepherds watching their flocks by night outside the building, and this is a source of great entertainment to the children of the assembled throng waiting to visit the display.

2001 was an interesting year. In September there'd been arguably the most spectacular and perhaps the most spectacularly successful terrorist attack on New York City, and the world was still on high alert, and due to a quirk of Americanism the date will forever be etched in our minds as 911. That's an anagram for the eleventh day of the ninth month for those of us living in the civilised world!

That one event took away our ability to file our nails or aeroplanes, or to carry a tube of toothpaste on board if it contained more than 100 ml. It was not only spectacularly (if accidentally) successful in destroying one or two of the symbols of capitalism but it also really did leave the world looking over its shoulder.

There we were on the other side of the world, under a clear starry night thinking deep and meaningful Christmas thoughts about as far removed from that act of terror as one could imagine, when our peace was interrupted by the shrieking of an hysterical five year old coming from the direction of the sheep.

This wasn't just some child playing, anyone could have recognised the shrill wail of terror emanating from a small body paralysed by fear.

His parents rushed over, as did many others, fearing he'd suffered an amputation by rabid goat, or worse.

"It's that bad man from TV" he screamed and sobbed, pointing to a shepherd with a long false beard and a teatowel on his head.

He was too young to know who Osama bin Laden was, but he had been exposed to enough of the incessantly sensational newscasts to know he wasn't good, in fact he should be very afraid. The terrorists had achieved their aims, we are probably safer from attack than we've ever been, but dint of excess security, but our freedom has been curtailed. We have played into their hands.

Each year when I see a shepherd I think about that little boy, and reflect on the Christmas message. The one about peace and joy and good will to men, and wonder why we humans just don't get it.

So Osama old chap, if you read this maybe you could enlighten me.

Or are you occupied terrifying five year olds?

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