During the campaigning, we saw so much negativity in the way of hate and bigotry coming from various “sides” in both the political and religious spheres. Tempers flared as each side claimed to be the only right way. People lied and misconstrued the truth for their own personal agendas and beliefs. I don’t know about you, but I am so fed up with all the nonsense regardless of who is doing it.
For several months, I kept thinking that we were about due for some kind of disaster to remind us how much a part of each other we really are and that when it comes down to it, we are all Americans and love will prevail. Sure enough, here comes Hurricane Sandy, which was like a slap on the back of all our heads, saying, “People! Get it together! Have you forgotten who you really are? Where’s the love?”
And like we’ve done in other disasters, most Americans once again put aside all differences to come to the aide of our fellow beings, both humans and animals. As of this writing, there were approximately 110 deaths. One death is way too many, but we were fortunate in that it wasn’t more such as the number of deaths from Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, which was in the thousands.
As we come through the madness of politics and Sandy, we are now preparing for the madness of the holidays. The fighting and arguing over what holiday greeting to say, whose holiday symbols should be displayed, and families in discord trying to decide whose house to celebrate which holiday, and how much money to spend. To be honest, I don’t see a whole lot of love expressed at this time of year when the holidays are meant to be all about love, peace on earth, and good will to all.
Oh, I know the love is there. We do see it in bits and pieces. We just don’t hear about it much anymore because the media tends to only focus on the negative which only feeds more into that negative energy. How many times have you said a cheerful “Happy Holidays!” to someone only to have someone snap back at you “Merry Christmas!” (or vice versa)? People are already making an issue of it on Facebook. To be honest, I’m just happy that anyone says anything to me at all since most times people just ignore each other; therefore, whatever they say is fine with me.
Personally, I don’t need to say a particular greeting or display a certain symbol to prove my faith. The first half of Matthew 6 warns us about not practicing our righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. God knows what is in our hearts. We don’t have anything to prove to anyone. People are complaining that others are trying to force their beliefs on them, but isn’t that exactly what those who are doing the complaining are trying to do to others?
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” The truth is that love, compassion, and kindness should be our priority to all regardless of how others celebrate.
By trying to force our beliefs on others, we are judging them by saying they are wrong and we are right. Mother Teresa said that “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I believe it’s more important to be the example of love, everything Jesus and all the other great spiritual teachers taught.
Maya Angelou has it right when she says, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” The Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
If Thanksgiving and Christmas really are holidays based on love, then I would like to invite everyone to respond in kind and with respect. Whatever greeting someone says to me, I will return that greeting and do so with a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face. I love the Spirit of the holidays. And that’s where I am choosing to put my focus. Love, glad tidings, peace on earth, and good will to all.
(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper November 30, 2012.)