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This Christmas, the World is Too Much With Us


Never before have I felt that this day is so unlike Christmas Eve. Sharing that thought with a friend today, he asked why. I gave the reasons I had heard many proclaim: we had one less weekend to shop, Christmas falls on a Thursday, and we are all too busy with demands of jobs and families.

I think there is something else, he said. I think it is that there is so much wrong going on in the world and we know too much of it. He mentioned, of course, the war in Iraq, the earthquake in California, and the stranglehold that George Bush now seems to have on the electoral process in the U.S. and on world events.

I added a few random worries of my own that made it difficult for me to feel the promised joy of the season: how I had prayed, in my own way, that the jury in Chesapeake, Virginia would spare the life of Lee Boyd Malvo and how relieved I was yesterday to hear that it had.

But that Christmas gratitude was shattered by news today that the prosecutor that got the death penalty for John Allen Muhammad might prosecute Malvo in his jurisdiction so as to get the death penalty. And how other jurisdictions were aching to have the kid in their state so they might get to load the syringe. And, of course, chief proponent of the death penalty in this country, our hate-filled Attorney General John Ashcroft, will do all that he can to see that Malvo is transported all over the country until someone does manage to execute him.

I then thought of our born-again Christian President, who spoke last week of his blood lust for the life of Saddam Hussein. Because he was such an evil man, and tried to kill his Daddy, you know. He ought to die. It is only right and just. Right and just?

I thought of the evil Tom DeLay and all he is doing to insure that there is no longer a democratic process in Texas or elsewhere-to insure that lines are drawn so that Republicans can rule the country. And how the Justice Department approved that Texas redistricting plan last week. So much for any one who is not a Republican having a say in the governing of the state of Texas. Other states, maybe all of them, will soon follow, as DeLay, Frist, Rove, Bush, and Ashcroft march on with their plan to create a public beholden to them and Halliburton and the Carlyle Group.

I thought of how Halliburton is charging us, the taxpayers, outrageous fees for importing oil to occupied Iraq and how there is not a damn thing we can do about it. I am saddened by the gut-wrenching feeling shared by many that this war was about Bush and Co. greed, and not at all about the people of Iraq. Let alone the people of the U.S.

I thought of the joke of the Medicare “reform” bill and how almost no one has read it-let alone the legislators who voted for it. How there will not likely be any Medicare for me, in a few years. How helpless the electorate will be when they find out years hence that they sat idly by watching their elected representatives sell what little security they had to the insurance companies and the HMO’s, thanks to Bill Frist. Frist, by the way, counts that bill as one of his grand accomplishments. And well he should. But it benefits him and his big-money constituents, not you and me.

I could go on and on with the things that weigh on my mind daily. Of 650 prisoners in cages in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba whom our country imprisons because it can. Because no one can hold them accountable. Because the most powerful country in the world is among the most evil and no one dare cross it. They all have too much they want of the bounty handed out to the “friends” of the U.S. There is no country that can stand on principle anymore, when the U.S. holds all the cards.

I think of the prisoners on death row-innocent and guilty-whose blood all Americans will have on their hands because of our death-hungry criminal justice system. Avenge killings with killings, in spite of legions of studies that show it has no correctional value. But in a system devoted to power and revenge, rather than justice and societal good, death most assuredly adds value.

I think of the constant mantra that Bush and our “leaders” spout about this being a great Christian nation. How Christianity is woven into the very fabric of what it means to be American. Yet, I defy you to name one example from the past year when Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Rove, Ashcroft, DeLay, Frist, or anyone in a seat of power in this allegedly great nation, has done one act demanded by Jesus in his Gospels. “Love your enemies, do good to them that wish you evil.” “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” I could recite maxims from the teachings of Jesus for hours and find no hint of the living of it by anyone in the Bush administration.

We are, I believe, among countries, the least Christian, the least decent, the least compassionate, the least kind government on the globe. Nowhere else can I think of does greed, power, corruption, vengeance, bigotry, and hatred more rule the day under the guise of Christianity and democracy than in the United States. Other nations with “Christian” traditions, like Germany, France, Italy, and England, at least have basic health care for their people and abhor the death penalty.

The words of William Wordsworth cry out:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Better that we profess our evil, as do governments like those of Korea and China, and govern and rule honestly as despots, than that we hide under the guise of Christianity and democracy.

So, Bah humbug on the Bush administration and all the evil it has perpetuated on the world this year. Someday may the spirit of Christmas find them.

May you find some spirit of the Christ this season too, in spite of all efforts of your government that mitigate against it.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at:


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