“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” Bob Hope…
Today is December 26th and for most people Christmas is now in the rearview mirror until about November, but it is the Second Day of Christmas, also known as the Feast of St Stephen. You see the 12 days of Christmas actually began yesterday, contrary to what the retailers and marketing folks tell us.
Today people will be out seeking bargains battling throngs of other for the best deals while others return gifts that do not not fit or were not to their liking. Politicians will resume their endless campaigns using the rest of us as pawns for their respective agendas. Leaders of nations, tribes, religions and political movements; be they terrorists, freedom fighters or liberators, (the terminology varies based on ones perspective) will continue to wage war on each other and the innocent will still be in the way and suffer accordingly. Bankers, financiers and those that profit off of the wars and politicians will continue to use their economic power to amass more wealth and power, exploit workers in Third World nations to maximize their profits and avoid meaningful health, safety and environmental protections. Good on them and if it happens to trickle down to a few of us all the better, right? We might get more bargains next Christmas.
Sometimes it seems easy to despair. It seems that the chilling verse from Henry Wordsworth Longfellow in his Civil War era song I heard the Bells on Christmas Day is as true as the day he penned in in 1863:
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Yes, with Christmas behind us are already getting back to doing and thinking all the things that the Unholy Trinity of Preachers, Pundits and Politicians tell us.
But for one day we paused from the madness. We heard those bells of Christmas day and for a moment there was relative peace on earth, then it was gone until next year, unless by some chance we heard, believed and decide to act upon the message of “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All.”
The good thing is that even if we forget, even if we get consumed in the troubles of the day that the message of this peace, the message heard in those bells, and in a following verse of Longfellow’s song are even more true:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
It could be if we simply decided to love one another like Bob Hope said. That sentiment seems so trite now days with all the bleating of those that make a living off of bad news and tragedy… love one another, peace on earth, goodwill toward all. But I believe like Wordsworth that things will indeed end with peace on earth good will to men. Like Ebenezer Scrooge after his wild ride with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
Peace on earth, good will to man. It’s not just for Christmas.