The Answer to Human Evil
America is in a season of political turmoil. That statement is true more often than not throughout our history, and we have seen much division among America's diverse people. We are a nation truly divided on some things that matter. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1863 poem Christmas Bells rings true to many of us.
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.
Season of Peace and Joy How needed is this season of peace and joy or rather of the belief in peace and joy? For Christians, it is the belief in a gospel of peace and joy. The season is one of remembrance of the Prince of Peace, a celebration of the God and Savior who walked among men, working miracles, and espousing the admonition to "love one another." For Christian and non-Christian alike, the Christmas season is for all who celebrate the holiday, ideally, a time of anticipation, a time of gathering, a time of gifts and giving. Christmas is a time of recollections and reconnections. It is a time of gratitude. It is a time of traditions and the birth of traditions. It is a time of family and friends. For some, the holidays exacerbate trials of loneliness, poverty, or social insecurity. For some, memories of Christmas past are painful or scarred. So long as there are sick or lonely, poor or hungry, humanity needs the message of Christ and Christmas and the prescription "love one another," the one phrase that best instructs members of the human family and applies to all.
Celebration of Light We associate Christmas with both cold and warmth, the one allowing us to better appreciate the other. Centuries before Christ, pagans living in cold climates celebrated the winter solstice in late December. It was the darkest time of year, but with meat and wine, the people anticipated the lengthening days before them that would bring them closer to spring. It was, in its way, a celebration of light in the midst of the darkest days of the year. Christians adapted this celebration of light to celebrate the Way, the Truth, and the Light. Message of Hope Wadsworth's words express the distress of the human family, the discord between brother and sister in a weary world. But Wadsworth's message is one of hope.
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men. Within the human heart lies the hope that the wrong shall fail, the right prevail. As a human family, we look within ourselves, we look to each other, and we look to higher power to create that elusive dream of peace on earth, goodwill to men. We try through politics to make a better society and a better world. But as writer Jeff Jacoby said, "It will always take more than law and politics to make men and women kind, honest, and moral...Good laws can do a lot, but they will never abolish all human evil. For that, there is ultimately only one answer: the cultivation of human goodness." The society into which Jesus was born had plenty of laws. But Jesus taught people how to treat each other, not because it was an enforced secular law, but out of love for one another. He healed the sick and the lame. He fed the hungry. He calmed storms. He forgave. He taught love for neighbor and enemy. He taught that being good wasn't just adhering to a list of rituals and practices but that being good was a condition of heart and spirit that motivated to do the will of God, to serve God and fellow man. There is, as Jacoby noted, one answer to human evil, and that is the cultivation of human goodness. Christmas is, at its best, goodness.