FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Season for Caring and Humility

by JESSE JACKSON

The holiday is upon us. The streets and stores are gaily decorated; music is in the air. There’s a scurry for cards and presents; an expectation of families gathering. Politically,argument over whether Santa is black or white, and what color Jesus was.

All of this violates the spirit of the holiday. This is Christmas — a mass celebrating the birth of Christ. What matters is not the color of Jesus or Santa, but their character. Jesus represents promise, hope and redemption. Santa is a commercial icon, representing buying and selling, credit and debt.

Each year at this time, I urge that we remember the real story of Christmas. It’s not about a holiday; it is about a holy day. Jesus was born under occupation to a couple ordered to go far from home. The innkeeper told his parents that there was no room at the inn. He was born in a manger, an “at-risk baby.”

He came at a time of great expectation among the poor and the oppressed. Prophets had predicted that a mighty Messiah would be born — a king of kings — to defeat the occupiers and free the people.

Jesus was that liberator, but he was the Prince of Peace, not a man of war. He gathered disciples, not armies. He converted, rather than conquered, the occupier. He accumulated no worldly wealth. He threw the money lenders from the temple. He taught us about love, hope, charity and faith.

We will be judged, he told us, by how we treat “the least of these.” We will be graded on how we treat the stranger on the Jericho Road.

You don’t need to be a Christian to understand the relevance of his teachings today. We live in one of the richest nations in the world. Our princes of commerce live lavish lives that exceed the grandest excesses of barons and kings of old. Yet, as a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund shows, the U.S. ranks next to last, 34th of 35 developed countries, in the number of children raised in poverty. Over 20 million people are in need of full-time work. Over 4 million are long-term unemployed. While corporate profits are hitting records, workers’ wages are at new lows as a percentage of GDP. Most Americans are struggling simply to stay afloat. Household incomes continue to decline, as the top 1 percent pockets a staggering 95 percent of the rewards of growth over the last three years.

Christmas is a time of giving. Neighbors contribute to their churches and schools; the buckets of the Salvation Army are filled. The wealthy complete their contributions for the year. Gifts are exchanged with families and friends.

But this year, Congress chose to cut food stamps by 7 percent, literally taking food from the mouths of 48 million of our most vulnerable citizens. Congress chose not to extend emergency jobless benefits; in January, 1.3 million Americans desperate to find work will find themselves out in the cold. This is a rich nation; we can afford to do better. Congress chose not to.

On this holiday, let us each take a moment to remember the real story. Too many get caught up in Santa’s holiday, oppressed by the need for money to buy gifts. But the real celebration is free and liberating. Let us take stock not of the presents we give or receive, but of how we treat the young in the dawn of life, the poor in the pit of life, the elderly in the dusk of life, the stranger on a dark road. Let’s pledge to lift the vulnerable children born in life’s manger out of poverty. Let’s commit to bring peace to Bethlehem. Remember the Wise Men brought gifts to the child and his parents, not to one another. And their offerings were not the real gift. The true blessing was the child himself, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow PUSH.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail