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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail