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:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail