Sunday, December 11, 2011

Yonder Breaks A New and Glorious Morn

I have to admit, I'm a sap for Christmas. Not the commercial, over-the-top version that's on the TV ads, but the kind that's about family traditions, togetherness, and the message that lies at the heart of it. I'm not sure what's worse these days, the merchandisers who have co-opted it into a fest of conspicuous consumption, or the fanatics who are worried that anyone who celebrates a different religion or even wants to be sensitive to that fact by saying "Happy Holidays" is waging a "War on Christmas".

The only War on Christmas comes when people forget that the central themes of the holiday are:
Hope.
Love.
Redemption.
Joy.
Peace on Earth.
Goodwill to All.

Tonight as we decorated our family tree with ornaments both old and new, we sipped hot cocoa and listened to carols (I jollied my teenager into being festive and wearing a Santa hat), and sat on the couch to read Christmas stories. When I stop for a moment and absorb the words to those timeless songs filling the air, I can't help it, my eyes fill with tears.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
 For despite all of our troubles, despite terrorism and economic woes, despite the fact that people I care deeply about lost loved ones this year, and that we will always face trials and tribulations and sorrows, I have to believe that the world can be a better place when humans strive toward good.

In the world today, there are 123 electoral democracies, up from 40 in 1972. My country, which saw African-American leaders assassinated less than 50 years ago has an African-American president. The World Development Report on Gender Equality now states: "The lives of women around the world have improved dramatically, at a pace and scope difficult to imagine even 25 years ago. Women have made unprecedented gains in rights, education, health, and access to jobs and livelihoods." Child mortality rates are falling:  in 2010, the world average was 5.7%, in under-5 year olds, down from 8.8% in 1990. The Gates foundation announced a malaria vaccine this year. There is much to celebrate. When I think about what it would be like to live in the world a few hundred years ago, I know how very lucky and blessed I am to be living here, now.

That's not to say that we don't have more work to do, much much more work. So this is where I will plug my favorite holiday gift: a donation to Heifer Project International. Bringing together the core values of investing in human initiative, ending hunger, helping women and children become self-sufficient, working for sustainable solutions, and fostering peace and love, giving Heifer Project gifts has become a family tradition for us.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or the Solstice or Kwanzaa or anything else or nothing at all this time of year, I think for the most part, we are all, in this weary world, hoping for the same thing: a new and glorious morn. Happy Holidays.

1 comment:

Marv said...

Wow ! Great post. Nothing much I can add to that except "amen." Thanks Robin