If Christ were on Earth today he'd probably watch Iranian President Ahmadinejad's British Christmas day speech over the Queen's.
The fact is, the "sombre" message (as it is being officially endorsed) of a jewel encrusted and glorified dynastic ruler is a far cry from the values of humility and humanity that Jesus Christ represents for those of the Abrahamic faiths. Especially as the worst economic crisis of the last 100 years is bringing the world to its knees.
Ahmadinejad, on the other hand -- with his deliberately modest attire and his customized religious everyman image -- is quite a bit more in tune with a Christmas message.
That and the fact that Britain's Channel 4 enjoys stoking controversy have made this year's "alternative to the Queen's Christmas message" (as per a C4 tradition that started in 1993) quite a showstopper as far as boring speeches about peace and humanity by powerful leaders go.
It's hard not to be fascinated by the fact that a man living in the bubble of the Islamic Republic of Iran has proven to be the greatest media mind in contemporary global leadership. Not content with effortlessly reducing major American journalists (not so fast Diane Sawyer) to defensive interviewees, Ahmadinejad has perfected the au courant rule of celebrity media success: never leave the limelight (or the paparazzi flashes, as it may be.)
Like Paris Hilton before him, Ahmadinejad continually reminds the world that he exists and along the way picks up more and more attention. Any news is good news in the world of 24 hour global media and somehow the unshorn leader of an isolated Muslim country has outmastered his Western Armani-wearing counterparts in the game they invented.
But unlike Hilton (and the Queen, whose own speech is so deep it will be complemented with home video of her playing with a toddler Prince Charles), Ahmadinejad has substance. His speech is a clever combination of Christian beliefs and his own analysis of the direction of international politics. His detailed appreciation of the character and values attributed to Jesus Christ are a concerted effort to demonstrate what many an honest theologian will tell you: there is very little difference between the 3 Abrahamic religions and it's almost laughable that most believers of these faiths don't seem to realize it.
To top it off, Ahmadinejad - always quick on the uptake - has borrowed a phrase from today's messiah Barack Obama: change. "Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world." Indeed Ahmadinejad's speech is not merely a media coup but a smart melding of religious language, Abrahamic values, and exactly the kind of anti-war, pro-humanity talk that is dominating the sensibilities of an entire world that is exhausted by the corporate wars that are currently being fought in the name of peace.
Ultimately, if you get past the religio-talk, Ahmadinejad's uniting message of peace and human rights may be the only world leader speech you can agree with this Christmas. Here's to hoping he'll take his own advice.
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