Thereís a moral to every Christmas tale, from A Christmas Carol to Itís a Spongebob Christmas, and itís a good one ó stop being a jerk and care for your fellow human beings.
Itís not a particularly religious idea, and even believers in evolution can get behind it because cooperation and community is really what made all of this possible.
Ever seen the bones of a saber-tooth tiger? Or a Paleolithic hyenas? Early humans couldnít run faster than deer, out-climb monkeys or even dig like rabbits. We didnít have sharp teeth, claws or poisonous spikes.
What we did have was the ability to work together in communities, where individual contributions added up to create something greater than its individual parts.
Individualism has always had its place, and creative intelligence played a role in our survival and development. Individuals invented weapons and defenses, or devised traps or new uses for the things supplied by nature, but the difference is that they didnít do it for personal gain as much as for the wellbeing of their community.
Skip a few tens of thousands of years forward to present day, and another type of self-interested individualism has seemingly won the day. For most people, ďcommunityĒ has been reduced to small circles of friends and relatives. Weíre rarely aware of the larger community that supports and cares for us, or all the ways it benefits us in our day-to-day lives.
But thatís changing in a lot of small ways. People are more aware of things like the growing income gap, putting two and two together when looking at their own stagnant wages. People are making better buying decisions, buying local or organic or fair trade. People are cutting their carbon output, even if it seems like a losing battle.
And some of the individuals that have profited most from our age of individualism, like billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are setting an example by giving almost all of it back.
In Whistler, the sense of community is growing every year. So many people volunteer their time and efforts in so many ways to make Whistler a great place to live, and if an idea comes forward that enriches the community in any way, thereís always someone who will step forward to help it along.
All of these community-makers deserve our thanks, and whether you dropped a few cans of non-perishable goods in your workplace food bank drive or dragged a pulaski through the dirt to fix a local bike trails, then thanks to you as well ó you made a contribution to the community this year.
Santa Claus is the perfect, non-denominational icon for the idea of community. He reminds people that giving is more rewarding than receiving ó something our inner caveman learned a long time ago, but sometimes forgets.