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:
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail