Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

So This Is Christmas

by JONATHAN CARP

Christmas is now a commercial frenzy, a profusion of overplayed songs and overwrought sentiment, mixed with pleading to remember “the reason for the season” and to “keep Christ in Christmas.” But there’s something else that’s being lost and perhaps was never emphasized enough to begin with, something I think we need now more than ever- Christmas as a holiday devoted to peace on Earth, and goodwill towards all.

The longing for peace runs throughout the religious celebration of the holiday. On the first Sunday in Advent, the liturgical season leading up to Christmas, the Catholic Church reads from its pulpits the words of Isaiah, looking forward to the day when “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” The words are so familiar as to be cliched, but this call is truly a radical call, a call for not mere disarmament but the abolition of militaries and the abolition of war.

As a child I remember lisping along to Psalm 46, which celebrates the coming of a time when God would “make the wars cease,” when we would see God “break the bow and shatter the spear” and “burn the shields with fire.” Just the other day we again watched the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and heard Linus tell of the coming of an age of “peace on Earth, and goodwill towards men.” These words are the “sigh of the oppressed,” the longing of a people much abused in the power politics of the ancient Near East, but they still speak to us today. The spirit of Christmas should be a spirit of peace.

Today, though, we are nowhere near that ideal. Just recently, the president of the United States ordered the murder of an entire wedding party in Yemen and then passed off his vicious act as an innocent mistake. (Obama, a self-professed Christian, would do well to remember the words of Psalm 110, which promises that God will “crush the rulers of the Earth” for their vile deeds.) Today Bethlehem, according to the Gospels the site of the birth Christmas celebrates, is in the midst of a prolonged and brutal sectarian war, and wars still rage the world over, destroying the lives of both the participants and the passive victims caught in the middle.

Today our brothers and sisters in Pakistan are hunted by drones, our friends in Syria are beset by the government they have and others who want to become their government, and in the Congo a brutal war that has destroyed the lives of millions of our fellow human beings rages still. This is Christmas, and we have no peace, and we can have no peace so long as we bow down before the “princes of this world” and forget that our struggle is always “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world.”

I am not trying to salvage the religious content of Christmas or to convert you to the Catholicism of my youth. Indeed much of the traditional meaning of Christmas involves passively waiting for the coming of some savior to bring us peace. I reject that, and say instead with Tolstoy that the Kingdom of God is within you, that we must work ourselves, today, to bring about peace on Earth. We cannot wait for a savior to come. We must be the angels singing of the coming of an era of peace, and we must be the salvation of our people.

Jonathan Carp is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He works as a nurse in Tacoma, WA.

Jonathan Carp is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He works as a nurse in Tacoma, WA.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail