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Easter: What Does it Mean?

     As the Easter season concludes, we may ask what this supreme moment in the history of humanity means. It seems to have kept its significance best in Mexico. In a TV interview the Archbishop Primate of Mexico, Norberto Rivera, spoke movingly of Easter as a protest against injustice, not just the injustice which the original Easter denounced but the injustice in the world today. Meanwhile, Mexican TV was putting on an amusing series depicting the presidential election campaigns as boxing fights.
     In Spain, as vacationers rushed home, the main subject was the large number who had been killed in highway accidents, a more pressing concern than the death of Christ. On Spanish TV, as in other countries, there was abundant publicity given to the Elian González case, the most noteworthy event of the US Easter season. The "photograph seen around the world" and judged a likely Pulitzer Prize winner was that of a DEA agent pointing his gun at scared Elian. Miles Seeley was one of many WAISers appalled by it.
     Diana Hull in Santa Barbara celebrated Easter by taking part in Earth Day celebrations, since it an apt time to remind ourselves of the problem of overpopulation. It was scarcely a Christian event. She writes: "One statement made to me this morning seemed to summarize a widely held view at this Earth Day event, where the entertainment was focused on the spirituality and "naturalness" of Eastern religions and Chumash Indian dances. One obviously educated young man told me that "individuals should be able to live in any country they choose because" he said, " the world belongs to everyone."
     Something similar was going on in Brazil, where Easter coincided with the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil. The celebration was hijacked by enemies of the West, like the 1992 celebration of the discovery of America. At Pôrto Seguro (between Rio and Bahia), where the Portuguese first landed, blacks and Indians clashed with police. A leftist intellectual claimed that the Africans were the co-founders of Brazil. In Bahia, a black woman singer waded into the sea in honor of its goddess, while black men banged mindlessly on drums representing black culture. The commentator admitted that they did it because their life is so miserable. Too bad they do not emulate those American black leaders who are moving up thanks to their own efforts.
     France, which represents the quintessence of Western culture, celebrated Easter in its traditional way, namely eating lots of chocolate; chocolate makers boasted that theirs was the best. Commentators added "don't eat too much." Cardinal Lustiger had other things on his mind as he led a small group of pilgrims up to the Sacré Coeur basilica, which dominates Paris.
     Surveying the development of Western civilization, we wonder if it has lost its way.

Ronald Hilton - 4/23/00