Consider the many events and issues that pushed us all apart during the last few months: a presidential election; several polarizing votes on such measures as gay marriage and legalized marijuana, to name but two; a grinding foreign war that no one would have imagined we’d still be waging more than ten years later; the random killing of innocents that sparked an ongoing verbal slugfest on gun control.
How would one describe this contentious period? As a hockey player, the only metaphor that fits is a benches-clearing brawl.
Ironically, this became more evident while watching Charles Schultz’ holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I found much to compare between our own aggregating problems and the stress and tensions which fall on Charlie Brown’s bowling ball-shaped head.
However, the genius in Schultz’ masterpiece is the culminating scene. It features Linus, the blanket-carrying prodigy, who reminds Charlie Brown (and the rest of us) of that holy day embedded in our secular holiday:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Linus’ quote, from a passage in the Gospel of Luke, never fails to overwhelm me and my kids. While this excerpt imparts important religious teachings, it also conveys a secular and inclusive message. It bears witness to the legend that, on this day of days, men and women from many ethnic, political and religious backgrounds saw the same star, followed its track through the sky and there came upon a moment of peace and wonder.
The holiday spirit is still alive, still a vibrant part of the American experience. In this age, where courtesy and decency seem in short supply, where we, like Charlie Brown, fight tense battles against the many forces that pull us apart, we need that rejuvening spirit more than ever.
Whether you celebrate this season as a holiday or a holy day, whether you align to the right or left of the political aisle, and whether you take an opposing view in any of the day’s contentious arguments, may the blessings of this season fall on you and yours.