We’ve done it so long it’s become little more than a habit. But regardless of what you believe about helping others during the holidays, here’s one possible solution for more peace on earth and good will towards men.
At some point of this holiday season every one of us will feel unavoidable guilt and a sense for giving to someone less fortunate…food, clothing, comfort of any kind, or simply one’s time.
We call it good will towards our fellow man, and it is good. But by New Year’s it’s typically gone, like most resolutions for the coming year. It’s something that we feel at Christmas, because Christmas is the season that we celebrate Him that gave everything for the rest of us…so that we might live, ultimately and everlasting.
We’re told to believe by clergy, family, friends, and even little children, that this is the will of God. And indeed, it might be. We’ll all find out someday.
But in the meantime I’ve always struggled with the reason for why this feeling of good will and grace towards our fellow man lasts only for those few short days during the holidays. Why something so good…is gone…so fast?
I think I have some insight; and it has to do not with human selfishness, as we’re told (and we ARE selfish a lot, generally), but with the issue of “respect” – the stuff that Aretha Franklin sang about!
Look, Americans are the most generous people in the history of the world. That to which much is given, much is also expected…etc. But for generations, we’ve given in record proportion, and it seems the more we give and do for others the greater the need becomes to give and do even more. And why is this?
Well, the idealists will say that one should always strive to do more. I suppose.
Others will say we grow tired of a goal we cannot achieve. So it seems to me the solution is simple. If each of us did more to become respectable, regardless of socio-economic status, it would be easier to be kind to each other. And the outgrowth of that would become…the more self-respect one achieves the less he or she actually wants to be helped.
“That’s preposterous,” a friend told me this week as I shared the idea. “There’s nothing philosophical about being hungry.”
I agree. But is not independence personally liberating? And does anything make us happier…than freedom?
Believe it or not, there was once a time when everyone in America understood that if they were going to eat they had to produce something, or be profitable in some manner – a time when even the poor could say, “I don’t have much, but I have my self respect. The Scriptures read, “So let a man eat, so let him work.” Even if it’s for minimum wage.
But we’ve twisted the connotation of minimum wage to mean more than it’s actually worth. So there is no respect. There’s no incentive to do more, become better, and thus become…respected!
In the meantime every socio-economic group on earth cries, “We deserve respect.”
Maybe. But respect, by definition, is something one has to earn. Respect is not a right, it’s a privilege…like health care, decent living conditions, and a cell phone. And the more people we can respect for their willingness to produce, be profitable, and independent, the easier it becomes to have good will towards our fellow man, and thereby…peace on earth.
Bottom line: It’s simply hard to like something you don’t respect. And if we all did more that we could individually admire and appreciate, there would be a better attitude towards being kind and supportive to each other. Peace on earth and good will towards men would mean a whole lot more…and last longer.
Longer than who won the Rose Bowl, and failed resolutions from the past. What we’re talking about is the actual solution for a happier NEW YEAR.
Is that not the best resolution…for everyone?