FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Season for Caring and Humility

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.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail