Today is the first day of 2007, in the year of our Lord and in the Common Era. On January 20 those that follow Islam will celebrate El-Hijra, new year for their calendar. February 18 is the Chinese New Year, February 3 by the Hebrew Calendar, the Discordians inexplicably align with the Gregorian calendar, and many Pagans celebrate on May 1 or October 31. Two things come to mind about this cycle of celebration.
Ablution. A new year is a time to put the pain of the past behind you, to commit the lessons to memory and action, to make peace with whatever has come to pass for good or ill and accept it as part of your total experience. It really doesn’t matter if you celebrate today, as I do, or on one of the many other days available on the many calendars, or if you just make up a day of your own. What matters is that you should have a day each year that you finish this chapter of your life and begin the next. It’s as important as blinking.
Irrelevance. The many calendars and cycles highlight the diversity of human experience. Our many cultures take a huge number of important dates for a large number of reasons. Just about any day of the year is going to be important to somebody, whether it be St. Swithun’s supporters of those who would see all stray animals adopted as pets. So when I see that New York City was declared a low terrorism threat for New Years’ Eve, I am bemused.
Why do the media and governments take extra care to alert us about holidays and anniversaries? Terrorists, at least the ones that we’re concerned with, don’t use the same calendar that we do. And they’re smart enough to notice that we get into a habit of tightening security on Election Day and the Fourth of July and New Years’ Eve. Isn’t the point of “terror” to be unexpected? Do people really think that planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11 because 9/11 uses the same digits as 911? Or that the trains were bombed in Spain on 3/11 to “send a message” to the Western world?
Well these acts do send a message, but it’s not calendrical. Terrorism is apparently a force that only a Discordian can understand, and thus truly loathe; it uses the principle of destructive chaos to spread fear and, so it hopes, destabilize civilization. If terrorists timed their attacks to coincide with any date of significance they would be limiting their own effectiveness. It is the randomness of the violence that makes it truly horrifying.