Revised- Christmas Message the Whole Year Through
by James M. Nasser
December, 2016 thru 2017
“And so,” as John Lennon once wrote; “this is Christmas, and what have you done?”
Well, what have you done? What have any of us done to help make our world, or our part of it a better place?
This is a time for reflection as the true spirit of Christmas hangs in the balance of a world turned upside down as 2016 comes to a close. Throughout history there have been defining moments that have shaped the world we live in. Some have been positive while some we would rather forget.
The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is not one of those defining moments in world history. None of us should be hypnotized into thinking that it is. (More on that in a moment.) However, what is significant and most worrisome is the atmosphere that made the results of the election possible. The turning away from the principles and ideals that have been ingrained into all major cultures down through the ages, whether they originated through religions or social interaction, are being cast aside in a pursuit of the self-serving, egotistical, jingoistic, satisfactions of the “me”. The “me”: as an individual, “me” as a group or herd, or my country and even as the “me” meaning my religion. It is now the “me”, the “we”, the “us” at the expense of the rest.
The long accepted “Golden Rule” present in all major cultures and yes, religions too, is now in danger of being upended by a new ideal of the “pursuit of the self”.
In America, where we see both of what is the best and the worst in human nature, it appears that we are on the threshold of what is the latter taking center stage. The latest U. S. Presidential election needs to be a wake up call for all of America. Even the citizens who voted for the president-elect need to take stock in how and why and where we are headed.
We are in grave danger of turning our backs on the principles that made America that shinning “city on the hill’ that Ronald Reagan spoke of when he quoted John Winthrop the first governor of Massachusetts. One needs to remember as a child, all the virtues we were introduced to that defined what made human beings the special creatures they are; honesty, humility, charity, integrity, fortitude, loyalty, and trust. Unfortunately, these qualities do not exist in the president-elect. They are replaced with greed, disdain, belligerence, falsehood, aggression, opportunism, and distrust. These are the characteristics we were taught to stand clear of in our youth.
George Washington could not tell a lie, and he warned us to guard against impostors who pretend patriotism. Benjamin Franklin asked us to be at peace with our neighbors, and felt that honesty is the best policy. Abraham Lincoln wanted us to appeal to the better angles of our nature. Teddy Roosevelt reminded us that America will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it is made a good place for all of us to live in.
In place of what we have always trusted, the new president-elect lets us know that; he does not like those who lose, that one cannot be too greedy, that his beauty comes from being very rich, that it doesn’t matter what is said about you as long as you have a pretty girlfriend, and that owning a golf course makes you very powerful. These are not tenets to live by or values we have been taught to embrace. And while these positions are not earth shattering, they are not very presidential. What is more frightening is that a new attitude is taking shape in America in large measure due to the violent and uncontrolled nature of the Republican campaign. A platform is being erected to the most extreme voices within our society. The volume and circulation of White nationalism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny and jingoism is growing louder and more wide spread while the new president-elect whistles on the sidelines waiting to see which side will emerge the stronger.
Remember what Edmund Burke, British statesman and philosopher spoke of over 200 years ago: “all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
In spite of the massive rallies and incendiary rhetoric that reminded us of the horrific time not so long ago, this must not be a defining moment. The challenge is now up to those of us, who by the way, made up the majority in the election, along with those disenchanted with the process, who did not participate, and those who now have buyers remorse as comments and decisions made by the President-Elect now reveal his true intentions. We must step up to the task ahead of us.
What America has stood for throughout the generations is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Please refer to it if you may have forgotten. The United States of America must not become another shipwreck on the ocean of growing intolerance that is rising like a leviathan around the world. The great British lion Sir Winston Churchill, born from an America mother, understood the importance of the position of the United States when he spoke: “The Americans took but little when they emigrated except what they stood in and what they had in their souls. They came through, they tamed the wilderness, they became a refuge for the oppressed from every land and climate.”
Keep in mind, change for the good comes from the people rising up, not from the leaders looking down. We must rise and embrace what is good, and noble and just, and worthy of us as Americans, for all Americans, for the entire world.
So this Christmas, what can you do? What can we do? The devil has long arms and he is reaching for our throats. It is time to make a statement. It is time for all of us who know what is right. It is time for one of those defining moments, a positive defining moment. John Kennedy implored us, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. It starts with you and me and all of us. It’s one step at a time one day at a time, and it has nothing to do with making America great again. It has everything to do with sharing America’s greatness to help fulfill the dreams for all of us.