Every year around this time, we start seeing the messages everywhere, in many forms: Peace on Earth, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.
I’m beginning to wonder, though, do we really want Peace on Earth?
So much of human endeavor these days is bent on criticizing, complaining and vehement vitriol. Yes, social media fuels these flames, and the relentless pandemic has put everyone on edge. But this getting-high-on-getting-angry, new American Way has been going on for some time.
From online restaurant reviews, radio talk shows, TV political programs and sports magazines to the ever-present, ever-over-simplified, ever-misinformed memes that populate all corners of the Internet and social media, negative blathering is the true soundtrack of American life.
Increasingly, there’s no peace to be found, even at Christmas.
In fact, just the opposite of peace, there’s even a media-manufactured “War on Christmas.” In this scenario, among some Americans, the phrase “Happy Holidays” translates to “Them’s fightin’ words!” Saying “Merry Christmas” makes many Americans feel better, but is irrelevant or even inappropriate to many Americans who practice different faiths, many of which celebrate their own holy days during December.
The lack of peace on Earth, of course, is nothing new in this world. This world can be a nasty, ugly place full of hate and violence. The reason Christians celebrate Christmas is to recognize the birth of a man, Jesus Christ, who came to bring peace on Earth, goodwill to man. Christ also clearly recognized the evil in the world, and on a few occasions as an adult Jesus is quoted in the Bible referencing Satan as “the ruler of the world.” Christians recognize Christ as the deliverer from this sinful world. A savior, a messenger of love and a better way. He also demonstrated the power of compassion and helping those in need. Most all of us feel better when we practice compassion and when we help others.
So why are we so angry? Why are we so defensive about people who act and think differently than us? Why are we so passionate about so many things that breed the opposite of compassion.
The pandemic has added to everyone’s edge, everyone’s tension. It has shortened everyone’s patience, everyone’s temper.
When we hear of airline passengers attacking flight attendants, we know something is wrong. Something is off.
If we really do want peace on Earth, aren’t there better ways to act than the ways we’re? It seems what we really want is to be right, and to be right more loudly and more angrily than the person we disagree with.
I would love to say (and probably WILL say many times over the next few weeks) “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hannukah” and “Happy Holidays.”
However, I think the phrase more people would like to hear is “Good job telling off that guy on Facebook! You sure put him in his place.”
“Damn, right I did!”
And then the person is walking on air all day.
The original moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, famously said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” during the lunar landing back in 1969.
If we really want Peace on Earth, which would be a giant leap for humankind, it seems maybe – even if only for a day – we should try being kind humans.
Richard Coltharp is publisher of Desert Exposure. He recommends we all go and listen to the Elvis Presley version of “If Every Day Was Like Christmas” to get into the holiday spirit, and then try to keep it.