During the holidays, there is ubiquitous paradox that we can see in every Christmas-celebrating consumer. On the one hand, more than at any other time of the year, we are out worshiping the god of materialism, frantically engaged in the busy race to get our Christmas shopping done—elbows out, running shoes on, cutting off the other guy with the accelerator to the floor. It is almost entertaining to observe the bizarre behavior of Christmas shopper (especially in oneself).
On the other hand, it is a time of year that many in our society chose to celebrate the life of Christ—a figure whose life and teaching are a massive contradiction to the bonanza of our shopaholic culture. Yet, in the craziness of it all, we can also see people who are genuinely kind: People who offer to let the other guy go first in line; who let that person merge in front of the on the freeway; who give generously to others in the form of donations or service; and who spend time celebrating the relationships in their lives.
I am tempted to call one group “conservatives” and the other group (the genuine Christians) “liberals.” But that is an unfair, simplistic characterization. In reality, there are gay Republicans and anti-war conservatives, pro-business liberals and anti-immigrant Democrats. The real issue in politics should be this: Are we trying to improve the lives of others or are we supporting policies that make life more difficult for the vulnerable in our society. Instead, we tend to spend our time demonizing the side that we think disagrees with our positions. In a recent interview with Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show made a great point about this us vs. them mentality:
“We’ve all bought in to the [idea that the] conflict in this country is left and right, liberal/conservative, red/blue…It amplifies a division that I don’t think is the right fight…I think the fight in the country is corruption vs. not corruption; extremist vs. regular…My problem is it’s become tribal. [It is a result of the] twenty-four hour networks, whose job is to highlight the conflict between two sides—and I don’t think that’s the main conflict in our society. [I want to] deflate that idea that it is a real conflict in our society, red/blue, democrat/republican. But I feel like there’s a bigger difference between people who have kids and people who don’t have kids than red state/blue state.” (source)
Perhaps the holiday season is a good time to remind ourselves that these divisions are unhealthy, and extending our hand to others is the more productive approach. Whether we celebrate Christmas or not, there is a powerful message in the figure who is praised at Christmas time. And it seems that very few—Christians and or non-Christians—are practicing the kind of compassion advocated by Christ. But it is the practice of compassion that is most needed in our politics and personal lives. So, in the spirit of Christmas, I am going to review the message of Christ. I think there is a very important message in his teachings that we often forget about during the busy holiday season. » Read more: The Prince of Peace