Fintan O’Toole: Way pandemic has unfolded makes mockery of punishment and reward

It seems that the virus is playing a cruel game with our efforts to do the right thing

This Christmas, we are all following a star of hope towards some place outside of the world as we have known it in 2020. Photograph: iStock

This Christmas, we are all following a star of hope towards some place outside of the world as we have known it in 2020. Photograph: iStock

There are two Christmas stories. One of them is religious, mythic, cosmological. It is about salvation. The other one is a kind of fantasy of justice. Usually, we manage to keep both of them going. This year, we have to choose between them.

The salvation story is the Nativity. You don’t have to be religious to be moved by it. It’s about people who are, in the eyes of the world, almost nothing, becoming almost everything. A child is born to a homeless couple. This birth is a fissure in the rock of hard reality. Through it, something radically new enters the world. Humanity is saved from itself and gets a second chance.

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