Commentary: America loves its holidays, especially the ones at this time of year. And with those holidays come familiar symbols, sounds, traditions, and thoughts.
One of the traditions of the December Holidays is hearing about Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men. It’s something that’s evoked often during this season. But we might have heard this so many times that it may not register in our thoughts anymore. These remain sage and vital words. They are an expression of a great hope about what someone craves to see actualized in a stormy world and among the human family.
But as history teaches, there’s hardly ever been a time in all these many centuries that there has been peace on the earth. From today’s modern wars with high tech weapons to old tribal conflicts with rocks and sticks in our past, we humans are very good at not getting along with each other. In fact, we’ve made a lifestyle out of this. There are always too many competing interests among nations, groups of people, and individuals. And also, there is the fact that not having peace can pay off financially quite well in certain circles. And also with the recent passage of the so-called tax reform bill, the decades-long war on the middle class continues without pause.
And good will? There has been a sad deterioration in how we treat each these days. From
political sparring to driving selfishly to posting bullying comments to tussling for that last must-have gift and in countless other ways our lack of good will is in the spirit of the times. Not for everyone of course, but for far too many of us.
And there are other things we always hear at this season. Things like Silent Night. All is Calm and Bright. Yes, this refers to a special event in time but it’s likely there was also a hope that this could be a larger state of being that humans could one day achieve. But silence and a quiet state of being are in very short supply these days with smartphones, social media, videos, the internet, web trolls, agitating talk radio shows, and good old television always blaring away at us. And our times today are mostly definitely not calm. Too many events work to dim the brightness that many hope for in our lives. Too many people seem to enjoy pursuing a lifestyle of anger or conflict. There are many who seem to relish in problems and lack interest in pursuing solutions. The ideas of calmness and brightness can seem like a quaint and antiquated concepts from the lost and distant past.
That’s the bad news. Now for the good. Our own personal world can change for the better with a single thought. Our own world and circle of life can be made calmer and brighter instantly by working at being a better person today than we were yesterday. Things can change for ourselves and the people around us just by bringing a positive spirit and influence to others. We don’t have to save the world. We just need to save ourselves from the surrounding madness. Then we can help save someone else from all the noise as well.
We may never see peace on earth. But the hope for peace and good will is not so much a prediction as it is a blueprint for how we were meant to live our lives. Give yourself the gift of working to have it in your own life and with your own family and friends. At least we can try to. We can be a calming influence instead of another noisemaker. We can bring brightness to the world in countless ways. We can be an agent of good will toward every person we encounter. This choice and commitment can be made by anyone at any moment of our lives even while the turmoil surrounds us. That is a gift that is worth giving.
As those great seasonal words ring in our ears this season and evermore, may we make the choices and changes in our lives to bring that peace and brightness and good will to these troubled times that are crying out for them.