Read Candace's bio and previous columns
December 10, 2007
The Best Christmas
Gift: Unconditional Love
The holidays are
upon us. Not just Christmas, but Bodhi Day, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Long
Night, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule and others, too.
No, this isn’t a
salvo in some imaginary war on Christmas. It is an attempt to recognize
that there are other holidays this time of year, even in a nation where
a solid majority of more than 70 percent identifies as Christian.
Let us speak of
Christmas, then. December 25 marks the birthday of a man whom Christians
refer to as the Prince of Peace. In that spirit are some seasonal
questions and thoughts for all of us to ponder.
When will we bless
the peacemakers as much as we do the warriors?
When will we order
up a national day of parades and recognition for diplomacy veterans the
way we do now for war veterans?
When will those
whose hands wield the ploughshare be as revered as those whose hands
wield the sword?
When will we live
our understanding that might does not make right?
When will those who
turn the other cheek be admired as principled instead of being scorned
When will those who
strive to love their neighbors as themselves be emulated instead of
derided as “politically correct”?
When will we stop
regarding love as just another four-letter word?
When will we
actually practice compassion in our national policies instead of
reserving the word solely for political slogans?
When will our
national tax policies do far more to comfort the afflicted and afflict
When we will stop
demanding a pound of flesh whenever we feel the slightest bit wronged?
When will we honor
God’s creation – planet Earth and the space surrounding it – as much as
we do making a profit?
When will we
recognize that most illegal aliens are, in fact, economic refugees and
show them mercy instead of ugliness?
The values of this
world – wealth, status, power and dominance – are most definitely not
the values Jesus espoused or lived in the four books collectively known
as the Gospels.
But notice something
critical and often overlooked or ignored. Jesus did not force anyone to
adopt his values, even when he was overcome with disgust and threw the
moneylenders out of the Temple.
longhaired and bearded blue-collar worker (carpenter) from Nazareth
challenged his followers and audiences to examine their own beliefs and
values. He preached by example as well as by word, living his precepts
in his daily actions, showing those of his time the possibilities of
The most important
message that Jesus conveyed was simply that God was no longer a
judgmental deity, ready to damn and/or wreak havoc upon those who broke
the tiniest of thousands of rules of conduct and belief.
Jesus instead made
clear that God is unconditional love, that all of us merit such love,
and that the sole challenge for us was and remains to learn how to love
others and ourselves in this same unlimited manner.
Our fears and our
judgments lie to us when they whisper in our ears that we cannot have
this kind of love for ourselves or give it to others – that such love is
impossible or impractical with the world the way it is.
love is the simplest kind of love there is – and the best
Christmas/holiday gift we could ever give to anyone, starting with
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