Sadly his followers since have too often inexplicably used his name and teachings to kill and maim on all continents and in all centuries.
Just as astonishing is the fact that a modern day Jesus Christ from the biblical lands of Israel/ Palestine would more than likely be killed in his mother's womb or die a very young man.
For an evil stalks that blood-stained land masquerading on one side as "Allah" or "God's Will" and the other as "Defense of Democracy & Western Values" in a county known ironically as the 'Holy Land'.
Could the story of the Nativity happen today in Palestine? Unlikely.
For would a poor young unmarried teenage girl in the West Bank, who had just announced that she was pregnant, not become a victim of male ‘honour’?
Even if she did survive, she and her new husband would have found it extremely difficult to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to road-blocks and travel restrictions placed on local inhabitants by the occupying Israeli military; the shepherds would have probably lost their grazing lands to compulsory acquisition for the erection of the ‘Security Wall’ and Jewish colonial settlements and the three wise men from Iraq (Mesopotamia) would have being denied entry visas.
But even if the birth did manage to occur in Bethlehem, Israeli military border controls would have probably barred Mary’s family from crossing into Egypt to escape religious persecution thus sealing their faith.
Yet there is no doubt that an adult Jesus of the New Testament and of a modern Middle East would have ended their lives in a similar terrible fashion. For anyone preaching a message of peace and love, a call for people’s liberation from poverty and oppression, of respect for all races and creeds, of freedom for prisoners and an end to the oppression of women, would have made himself both an enemy of the state and of a religious fundamentalism that preaches intolerance towards non-believers and death to all blasphemers.
Yes, death would have come either from an American-made laser guided missile or from execution by a death squad after the customary gruesome torture.
In a time of great economic uncertainty, our younger generation more than ever before need positive role models and motivational leadership to inspire them to work towards creating a better tomorrow for themselves and for society.
Therese Carroll leading a merry band on a community clean-up in Ballinfoile Park
Thankfully there are in Galway, as elsewhere across Ireland, legions of citizens who do serve as iconic heroes to our teenagers. Every week, ordinary people living amongst us give their time and energies ‘free gratis’ to work for others in sporting clubs, neighbourhood associations, arts organisations and community support groups. From the volunteers who can be seen training children on the playing pitch in all types of weather; to the providers of food and solace for our older people living alone, through to the members of An Taisce defending our heritage from the uncaring bulldozer. There are, too, the front-line state workers in schools, hospitals, police/fire stations and local authorities who take the term ‘public servant’ at face value. Let us also not forget that our city was a shining example to the world of community volunteerism in action during the Volvo Ocean Race.
Gort's Quadrilha Festival that was organised by local Brazilan volunteers
Sadly the demise of the Celtic Tiger has exposed the unpalatable truth that there are too many villains in high office who seemed to have viewed public service as an opportunity for personal gain rather than for serving the common good. Recent revelations have robbed us of sufficient examples of selfless heroism where one would expect to find it in abundance, namely in the higher echelons of state institutions whose raison d’etre after all is ‘to serve the people’.
Sharon McHugh with community volunteers at the first 'Glan Suas Gaillimh' clean-up
Yet the forthcoming budget presents a golden opportunity for TDs of all political parties to start the process of winning back public confidence by leading by example. Politicians must first tighten their own belts before asking the citizenry to make sacrifices in the national interest.
The success of the GAA in sport & culture is due to its army of parish-based volunteers
Over the last year this has not happened as it seems that too many of those that caused our recession are being protected by an ‘old boys network’. For how else can one explain why top civil servants, bankers and directors of state agencies, who resign after being found out to be incompetent, walk away with huge taxpayer-funded ‘golden handshakes’ and life-long pensions? Or why most members of the boards of discredited banks still hold office? Or why senators from a largely meaningless institution (Seanad) still manage to earn on average €47,000 annually in expenses alone? Or why former government ministers from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour can sit as public nominees on the boards of financial institutions earning up to €100,000 in yearly fees while failing to protect the common interest? Or why An Taoiseach is one of the world’s highest paid political leaders? Or why serving TDs refuse to give up ministerial pensions that can be up to €40,000 per annum? Or why top managers of public organisations are allowed to benefit from an annual lucrative financial bonus system for doing nothing out of the ordinary?
Thousands give their time every week to help bring some sunshine into the lives of asylum-seekers
The trojan efforts of community organisations are now threatened by government cutbacks
Of course, there are conscientious politicians locally and nationally from all political parties (and none) who work tirelessly for their constituents and who energetically investigate questionable practices and expenditures.
Environmental campaigners such as 'Friends of the Forest' have campaigned for years against built development that destroys green spaces & wildlife habitats
But they need to unite and demand a full root ‘n’ branch reform of our political system in order to secure proper democratic accountability and regain the public’s trust.
Our young people need patriots to emulate amongst our present political leadership rather than only amongst the men and women of dead generations who sacrificed so much to give us a democratic republic.
Learning about our seashore and its wildlife during the annual BeachWatch
Ironically it is the heroes of local communities who have worked so hard for so little pay who now face the axe as a result of the actions of property speculators, bankers and their bedfellows that have left us with national bankruptcy and a blighted urban landscape. Ireland's National Aquarium organises a series of annual public aquatic awareness events
Hopefully our TDs will ensure that the recommended An Bord Snip’s cuts aimed at young people will not be included in the forthcoming budget. For we must not deprive our children of a future by curtailing investment in schools when it is needed to provide the foundations for the much needed ‘knowledge-based’ economy that could make us world leaders in green and high technology industries. Nor should we slash the community-support schemes in deprived neighbourhoods that are the legacy of irresponsible development and planning.
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Galway city
Likewise government must give back to our unemployed people a sense of dignity by looking at productive alternatives to the ‘soul-destroying’ dole system such as creating worthwhile Roosevelt-era ‘New Deal’ public work schemes.
August Rural Village Fair in Monivea Co. Galway
Since the dawn of Civilisation, Mankind has nonchalantly wiped so many other species off the face of the planet. Now our arrogance & selfishness is putting the fate of humanity itself at risk.
Hence the nations of the world have come together in Copenhagen today to decide whether w...e will try to save our own skins. Our future though relies in reversing our almost genetic trait of treating other living things as only existing to serve our selfish interests. Our satantic power to destroy must now be transformed into a godly power to protect biodiversity. In saving others and their habitats, we will find the key to our own salvation.
We are concerned though that legislation has not been introduced by the Minister of the Environment for a refundable levy on beverage cans and bottles. For there is a growing incidence of litter, particularly discarded drink containers, being dumped in our green areas that if left unabated will lead to an environmental disaster. Not only is this type of refuse undermining the beauty of our natural landscapes but it is also leading to a serious contamination of our waterways and the destruction of wildlife habitats.
Since July 2007 local community activists have been lobbying the Minister to introduce this levy. This policy has had considerable success elsewhere in Europe particularly in the Scandinavian countries. 90% of beer and soft drinks containers are returned in Sweden while the market share of non-returnable bottles in Finland is deliberately kept small at 5%. Furthermore, such a monetary pay-back scheme existed in Ireland until a few decades ago.
It is a win-win system for all concerned – local communities, local authorities, the environment, waste management and of course wildlife.The monies saved could be used to encourage greater public use of wonderful green spaces by funding the provision of park wardens, regular outdoor family events and park facilities such as picnic areas, community gardens and eco-learning centres.
But as of yet we have had no positive response from Minister John Gormley. His department recently informed us that the long overdue consultancy report on waste management is expected before Christmas. We earnestly hope that a Minister for the Environment, who is also leader of the Green Party, will take onboard a grassroots initiative that if implemented will help dramatically reduce litter pollution in Ireland.
Sadly it has been government’s own policies that have contributed to the polluting of our countryside, an associated rise in anti-social behaviour and an extra burden on our health services. Over the last decade, the unprecedented growth in off-licences selling cheap alcohol has led to an epidemic in under-age outdoor binge drinking that has undermined community spirit, destroyed peoples’ lives and polluted parks. It is time that the government introduced laws that will clean up the mess created by their own policies.