Nice thing about this season is that you can almost feel the spirit of “Peace and Goodwill”. In the quiet of the night, flurries passing a chapel, snow upon an empty street… So close, they are possible! Almost enough to give one hope.

Ah, but hope is one of those things that has a hard time surviving getting old. Peace and Goodwill seems like such a basic, simple thing, why can’t we all live in such a world? Why does humankind find it so difficult to accomplish this, even after a couple thousand years?

When I look around our “successful” world I have this recurrent nightmare. I see an old retired gentleman, living out his life huddled over his computer, spending his time and emotions eagerly tracking the ups and downs of his “numbers”. As if having bigger numbers in his account make him a better person, make his life more worth having been lived. There’s a type of person who will laugh at me when I ask, “Is this the essence our culture has reduced everything to? Something actually so small and petty?” Though we’d never admit it, we believe bigger numbers show that we, ourselves, are more accomplished. Do they? As if we’re not members of a privileged class, where we’ve taken advantage of things that have been “set up” just for our benefit?

And I think about “character”. In the sense of “values”, not as we use the word now, where a man “is a character” but where he “has character”. I long for a world full of people who hold as their most cherished possessions: the brother/sisterhood of their community; their toleration of differences; their compassion for those less fortunate; their willingness to give and be of help; where violence, either domestic or state-sponsored, is never condoned; and much, much more… only when these are “my possessions”, will I understand what I’ve lost, or how I’m diminished when without them.

So I’m crazy and long for the 25th-century enlightened man and woman. While in the present, I’m overwhelmed by the tragedy and full of sadness at mankind’s lack of progress, or even understanding.

I wonder what Christ would say? Happy with where we’ve come to? Or disappointed that much of the world is not so different from what he knew? Would he not say, “Forget your numbers, help your brothers and sisters. Compassion, it’s all you need to own. That’s who you are!

And as the snow slowly drifts down, quietly covering a simple manger somewhere in Jeruselem, a light shines from the window, and hope once more is born in the depths of darkness.

Merry Christmas.