A lot of us find the holiday season difficult. As the days get shorter and darker, some folks get more and more depressed. In ancient times people sought for explanations of the seasonal changes. Why did the days get shorter? Why did they then begin to lengthen again? What is the pattern of all this?
Astronomy evolved from the search for answers and from observation of the natural world. Many of the world’s religions celebrate the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year leads to lengthening again. Many religions and cultures have a festival of lights, whether it’s Hanukkah or Diwali, the winter solstice or Christmas.
Why do we long for the light and fear the darkness? Is it because we as humans don’t see well at night, so darkness became a source of fear?
This year seems particularly dark, especially with the horrible massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut. And there have been several other mass shootings this year.
Next Friday, Dec. 21, is the solstice. Let’s hope that this holiday season will help us turn to the light, as the days begin to lengthen and we celebrate Christmas.
And I am calling us all to action. Enough darkness. Enough killing. There is no legitimate reason for any private citizen to have an assault rifle or a semi-automatic pistol. Let’s work to outlaw these weapons of massive death!