Sunday, December 23, 2012

What do Santa, religion and the state have in common?

If I were to answer, Yes or No, to the question “Should kids be told Santa exists?” I would probably say no. It’s not so much because it inculcates illogic in a child’s worldview, what with the claim that some jolly old man sends presents to children around the world in one night. What is most disagreeable to me is the morals of it all.

Obedience, and other immaturities

The ‘Santa mentality,’ of submitting to some outside authority over what is considered “bad or good,” pervades religion primarily. It is indicative of the primitive, if not savage, institutions at the time of the founding of such religions some centuries ago. One’s value system is thus based on maintaining quotas so as to please this outside authority. Obedience equals goodness.


Healthy living, in fact, involves action apart or beyond what is tolerated by religious or political law. For example, while one can perform a job solely for the sake of money, this does not mean one’s life is maximized. There ought to be the so-called ‘spiritual,’ from which one’s actions are rooted.

Not to say that the task of spiritualizing should be handed over to some entity such as government, whose very means of getting things done — violence or the threat thereof — is at odds with most moral standards. The lack of voluntariness as found in the state can only make for alteration of specific actions, as opposed to the alteration of mentalities required to sustain any social upheaval.

Holistic change

Doing “good for goodness’ sake” in fact involves more than categorizing between “naughty and nice.” It requires reconnecting the very idea of morals with health, and aesthetic taste. In this regard, Santa, religion and the state are obsolete to a philosophy of the future.

A natural progression

Perhaps the case for Santa may be that, as a person approaches adolescence, he casts off his old frameworks, such as of belief for belief’s sake, or of doing good for obedience’s sake. The discarding of the Santa myth in a young adult would thus be just one manifestation of an overall coming of age, of becoming independent in terms of systems of thinking and acting. “Mommy says…” becomes “It seems to me that…”

In such a natural process, all superstitions could be sufficiently reevaluated, with no long-term harm being done from preceding ‘truths’ fed to the back-then immature being at a time when they were incapable of acting wisely.

Or maybe adolescence signifies a transformation in understanding of the world, where historical-biographical particulars turn to general concepts, and the literal becomes the figurative. For example, Santa the rewarder-punisher gives way to an understanding of the baser (reptilian) regions of the psyche, where one’s urges have no corresponding inhibitions other than the degree to which one’s organism is in need of a certain behavior or attitude, e.g. anger in order to channel sufficient energy as required in a life-or-death situation.

Final thoughts

Of course, the intellectual state of today’s humanity is too lamentably bad for the above considerations to have any relevance. Dismissing Santa at a later age is a mere matter of no longer being a gullible sucker, and not about raised individual awareness. If the latter were so, we would see the same corresponding discarding of religious and political superstition.

And as I end this entry by bidding you a Merry Christmas, dear reader, you would know that I mean the true spirit of Christmas, which is not about gifts, nor about Jesus even, but about family and friends. Although, Kierkegaard would argue that such a notion has nothing to do with Christ, who is pure individuality as to exclude the social... but that’s a different story.

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