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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EASTER …


What should I write about on Easter? Well, initially I thought of looking at how Easter itself would be meaningless if it were not for the many events that brought this feast to the West. Indeed, Easter cannot be truly separated from a combination of events and ideas – including Judaeo-Christian and pagan ones. But then, I said to myself what does this really say about Easter today?


Oddly enough, my attention was drawn to Easter Island. Honestly, why was it called Easter Island in the first place? Was there a particular reason for this tiny island in Polynesia to be given the name of “Easter island”? Well, I was disappointed to find out that the name for the island was chosen since the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722 – you guessed it - he discovered it on Easter Sunday of the same year! Since then, many titles have been given to the island, including Rapa Nui which is probably the most widely known alternative name. Learning about the name left me with some disappointment. It was as if on opening an Easter egg, I discover there was no toy inside! Obviously, that was when I was a child so nowadays I don’t expect a toy inside anymore (!) But I digress…


On discovering this rather unexciting fact about the origins of the name, I looked at the gigantic stone heads that covered parts of the island and was taken back to a time when I had looked with awe at these achievements as a child. The same way I had viewed the pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China (more on China later...). Without fully understanding the cultures or societies that built these structures, I knew that it had a lot of significance for those who built them. Or at least, they wanted to leave their mark on the world!



Left: close up of the Maoi, a giant stone figure depicting a head – probably of an ancient god.


Indeed, I cannot help being fascinated by these giant Maoi statues today. However, although archaeologists disagree on the ways these structures were built or on who built them, one fact was sure: they would come at a high price. Indeed, it appears that in order for the ancient islanders to sustain the building of these structures, they might have caused damage to the island’s ecosystem which amongst other things forced them to be ‘stuck’ on the island. As the material needed to build crafts depleted, so their options to fish. As this happened, they put more stress on farming and agriculture which surely led to soil erosion … etc. etc.


So, the point is that in an attempt to set themselves apart from the other tribes who probably lived on the other islands of Polynesia, Easter islanders were sowing the seeds of their own destruction - or rather killing the seeds that would permit them to continue living as they were doing before. Which brings me back to Easter! In fact, it is perhaps surprising to us that the name ‘Easter’ probably derives from the pagan goddess of Eastre. Besides that, many languages have different names for the same feast ranging from our Maltese ‘L-Ghid il-Kbir’ which I am told should mean the ‘Great Feast’ to the Italian ‘Pasqua’. These examples demonstrate a change of emphasis. However, what is shared by pagan and religious ideas is the idea of rebirth (in pagan myth) and resurrection (in its Christian counterpart). This idea of change and of a new start seems to be the intrinsic message at the centre of the feast. Unfortunately, as we are preoccupied by things such as catching the Easter bunny, or rather on keeping with the accelerated rate of a changing world, the possibility that all we have will someday cease to exist rarely presents itself. Perhaps, before it’s too late…


AND TIBET

Right: Flag representing Tibet


Yes, my late posts seem to follow in my concern with impermanence and with my search for what is of ‘value’. But if I think about how easy it was for the inhabitants of Easter Island to forget that their resources would eventually deplete – unless they replenished them – then I do not think my questions are wasted. Indeed, another culture is being threatened as I write right now. But, like the ancient Easter islanders, the threatening forces are far from natural, but are entirely human in origin. Of course, I am talking about the plight of the Tibetan people. However, the main difference is that people in Tibet have been systematically discriminated against by the Chinese government.


Of course, we depend on media reporting to get to know of the facts. But, unfortunately, the Chinese administration has not been an example when it comes to respecting the human rights of its own people. I sincerely hope that there is a better future for Tibet in light of a history of oppression. However, given that today we should be remembering renewal and change, it might also be worthwhile to hope this change not just for people living in Tibet but to other Chinese people living in mainland China, including people who hold particular beliefs or for the millions of aborted girls and disabled foetuses brought forward by its one-child-per-family policy.


In our corner of the world, we have the luxury of accessing this information from the comfort of our own offices. However, I hope that we can still make a difference to the cause by signing an online petition hosted by AVAAZ.com:



Stand with Tibet - Support the Dalai Lama



I signed it yesterday! Ultimately, we won’t have control over what will eventually happen in Tibet but at least we’re doing something. However, perhaps what is that I wanted to say on this cold Sunday is that it’s important to me that I continue asking myself the right questions without being too preoccupied with the unimportant things in life. What do I wish to achieve right now? Where am I heading? What should matter to me? What should I value? And, finally, what is my passion and mission in this life?


So there’s your Easter post… hope you liked it!

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