Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Countdown: 8 Days to Go

"... the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Luke 2:15


The search for authenticity is a quest that will never really go out of fashion. There’s something magical about it. Bringing together the drama and excitement one associates with pirates out on a treasure hunt or knights on some mystical expedition, this pursuit becomes – for many – an adventure that takes them into their very soul.

Or at least that's what it's supposed to do.

We like the authentic for what it represents. We like the way it remind us of how things ought to be, and in the way it gently nudges us away from scrambling after things that are fake. What the authentic essentially does is to demonstrate the futility of the counterfeit, the lie that masquerades as truth, and the falsehood that acts as the pretender to the throne.

It is, perhaps, indicative of the times that we live in that the real has in many ways become a novelty. There are so many substitutes that seem so much like the real thing but is not. And yet, we get fascinated by the fake not only because its affordable but because it is available.

Its amazing how for many people the pursuit for the authentic becomes something less of a serious effort because there is no need for it. If the substitutes can do it, why go for the original? Or for that matter, if it's inconvenient to get hold of the real experience, why bother?

Hence, we have fake products that are sold for a lot less than what we would pay for the original. We use artificial ingredients to give the flavour of the original without having to taste the real thing. We go for the virtual tour and the virtual anything because it spares us the trouble of getting up from our feet.

However, all these things can be justified in some way or the other because health reasons and financial situations may sometimes force such adjustments in our life. The biggest danger lies when the fake becomes part of our identity, starts defining our existence, and makes it hard for us to recognise who or what we really are.

I've often wondered what the shepherds were thinking when they went to the manger in Bethlehem. They were told by choirs of angels that the promised Messiah was born that night and they went ahead to check for themselves. What were they thinking? Was this really the promised Messiah that they saw wrapped in swaddling cloth? Was this the real deal? Was this frail infant that they saw going to be the most authentic experience of the divine they would ever get to see on the dusty plains of Palestine?

And yet, despite the many questions that they may have had... they went ahead to find out for themselves if this message was truly authentic or another wild goose chase. The scriptures record they were pleased with what they saw and spread the news all around.

However, the great thing about the shepherds was that they took the time to explore and make the discovery for themselves. Question is, how many of us take the trouble to find out things for ourselves instead of being spoon-fed? How many of us take that first step and resist holding back? How many of us side step the authentic and remain satisfied with the fake?

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