The Christmas spirit in idioms and a farewell to a dreamer

And Christmas is back. For the readers who are familiar with our Sirius approaches, it is not a surprise that there won’t be any Sun-sign predictions this year either! For the same readers perhaps our mumbling here will be more interesting than reading the usual ‘dear Aries/Capricorn etc, this year you may -or may not - be abducted by aliens or win /a free trip to Paris/the lottery ticket/the higher state of existence.  But carry a suitcase at all times because you never know! - an umbrella wouldn’t hurt either!’ (!?) Last Christmas, I was preoccupied with Mr. Scrooge. This time I prefer to write about idioms. I love idioms. So many different things could be stated simply by changing the surroundings of a single word or in the context of a sentence. The definition is: an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.

 For instance stand by; stand tall; make a stand or stand οut. The other thing I love about idioms is that they cannot be understood if dissected to words, but only as whole phrase. It certainly gives me something to think about. People could be idioms, each one having his own special meaning, but to be understood they should work as a whole, as a phrase, not as separate words. The meaning of idioms lies in the unity of the words that create them. If there were a lonely ‘stand’ it wouldn’t mean much on its own, except for a state of merely …standing, but if it were followed by a ‘for’ or a ‘by’, well then, anything could be possible.

There was a man that could be an idiom in the world of humans, because he certainly had a separate meaning of his own. In reality he made idioms sound less impressive at the very least, because he stood for and he stood by, and he made a stand.  And idioms, along with the future just for once, bowed before him. Of course the word is about Mr. Nelson Mandela. Millions of farewells were written and spoken in his memory. I believe that even without this great Man among us, we can still hold on to the idea he served, for the story doesn’t have to end if we keep on adding pages: all people are equal. All have the right and deserve an equal chance to a peaceful, prosperous, free life. Life is no one’s property.

No, it’s not a revelation, or a rebellious idea. It sounds natural, a given - and you are probably thinking ‘Well, duh! Of course!’ aren’t you? Me too! However, if one looks around, this is not how things are.  The ‘why’ it isn’t so, should be answered individually: my intention as always is not to preach, but rather to think in your company.

The very amazing thing about Mr. Mandela, to my personal view, is the way he used power, when that power was given to him – and it is this exact point which proves that indeed he was a great Man: instead of using it for revenge, or personal gain, instead of choosing an easy way to work with it, he chose to stand by his own words of reconciliation, embracing all that which until then were oppressing him. This was a Man that actually stood by his beliefs. What he spoke of was how he lived and the way he lived was how he spoke.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom)

The Stand

The dear reader, whether conscious of it or not, knows somewhere in his heart that this time of the year is meant to remind us of other, more essential things about the future, than some flat predictions. A future that does not obey our petty interests, which does not depend on how much is spent, bought or sold, lost and found. It is a future which depends on where one stands.

That future becomes puzzling in contrast to the paradox of statements like ‘I am for world peace’ or ‘peace and love’ which are followed by throwing a rock to someone’s head.  Something happens in the distance between stating the word and acting the word. Is it the personal interest to blame? Or, is the word, the belief, distorted and twisted once it leaves the world of ideas and enters the material reality? Are idioms dissolved when they incarnate as written words? That is another matter that should be answered by the kind reader.

We can’t choose who we are, or where we are. We can’t choose who, if anyone will stand by us. But we can choose what we believe in. We can choose for what or whom we’ll stand for. We can be the idioms that give the world a meaning. Under this perspective and in regard of the future I conclude that the essential question is: where do you stand?

Which no doubt sounds very abstract and confusing, while it is mainly idealistic and unrealistic – surely all who ever stood for or by something were informed of that – including Mr. Mandela, probably. But as another wise man once sung: ‘you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one’ – and thankfully he wasn’t.  Even one Man, who chooses what to stand for and stands by it, can change the world; there have been living proofs of that fact, throughout human history. This, to me, makes the future, whatever it may have in store for us, something to look forward to. The next idiom could be amongst us!

My warmest wishes for a very Happy Christmas and an even happier New Year to all!