“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”
—The Bible, King James version
OPINION – I just came in from sitting on the patio for a moment. The silence of a cold, wintry night was broken when a car pulled up next door and the young neighbor children came bounding out.
“Hey, mama! We just saw Santa!” a little girl shouted as she raced up the driveway.
That childhood innocence and wonder was much needed and reminded me that Christmas, most assuredly, is the domain of the very young.
We adults also know that there is more—much more—to Christmas than tinsel on a lighted tree, presents, and hanging our stocking by the chimney with care.
It is a deeply spiritual holiday in the Christian world. At least it is supposed to be.
We also know that it is incumbent on us, as adults, to provide those childhood memories that will be carried through the ages in the hearts of children everywhere.
Most importantly, we also must teach our children that Christmas is not about excess and extraordinary displays of largesse, that faith, hope, and charity are at the heart of it all and, most importantly, that the message of the season is one of peace.
I fear we don’t do a very good job of that.
We tend to be a fairly aggressive lot, drawing arms on our enemies without fully realizing the long-term impact, and setting a strange value on human life.
We go inward with that.
Last week, waves of grief overtook the nation in the aftermath of the violence in Newtown, Conn., as it should have. We were horrified, angry, but mostly, heartbroken.
I wonder, though, how many have been equally horrified at the number of civilian children who have lost their lives as a result of war. In Pakistan, nearly 200 kids have been killed by errant drone attacks. Those lives are just as precious as the ones lost in that Connecticut elementary school. And, there is seldom mention of the overall civilian deaths associated with the Iraq War. The Iraq Body Count website lists the losses at about 120,000. The civilian numbers in Afghanistan range at about 17,000. Of course, the focus was always more on Iraq than Afghanistan.
We see genocide and civil war in places like Syria, Libya, and Darfur, where lawlessness is the rule and good people are swept up in it.
There is political violence, drug-inspired violence, ethnic violence perpetuated on innocents the world over.
It’s naïve, I know, and somewhat simplistic to be sure, but my Christmas wish is for peace and an understanding that we are a part of the global community; that we acknowledge the fact that we share a humanness that cannot be denied; that we care about what happens not only within our own borders, but elsewhere.
I wish for understanding of our differences, that we can acknowledge that beneath it all, there is a sameness to our distinct personalities, that no matter which corner of this little world you land in, all anybody wants is to be happy.
In a few days, we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Let’s find a way to honor that not only on Christmas day, but always.
Otherwise, the good wishes, expressions of faith, and holiday cheer are hollow.
And remember that generosity from the wallet pales when compared with the generosity of the heart.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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