By Emily Rosen
“Peace on earth. Good will towards man,” is probably the most favorite saying spoken or quoted during the Christmas holiday season. Even, it is said, the most liberal secularists who reject Biblical Christianity love to use this phrase and claim it as their own.
The “peace on earth” part, hopeful denial of reality that it is, is an eternal prayer that has yet to be answered. Certainly it is an aspirational “good,” and, though it may remain unanswered in all of our lifetimes, there is no more worthy goal for humankind despite that as individuals, it is a condition beyond our control.
So I have concerned myself with that which is within our control as individuals: “Good will towards man.”
Has there ever been a time when “good will towards man” is as far from the ‘collective consciousness’ as it is today? Well, probably historically, there has been, but I want to stay with the now. The residual “spill” from our recent past national trauma lingers in all the wrong places — in the hearts of those stuck in a mindset of righteousness, in people who sneer at the concept of being non-judgmental in a world filled with human beings who are more than one dimensional.
Many of us have difficulty with the concept that another person can have a belief system in total opposition to our own, with equal sincerity and purity of heart, and that such a person can indeed perform acts of kindness and can make positive contributions to their community.
This is what makes “good will towards man”such a challenge.
I am aware of how this past election cycle has torn families and friendships apart, and has caused serious rifts in some marital relationships. And, despite the innate wisdom of the mantra “Let’s agree to disagree,” the issues and circumstances for many of us were so deep-gutted as to have been symbolic of the very core of our beings. And disagreements along political lines can be perceived as rejections of who we are in the “I am what I believe” modality.
Somehow, we can more easily disagree about sports teams, movies, books, art, taste in clothes or home furnishings, or even, in the abstract philosophy than we can about politics, without impugning the basic character of another person.
So, in this relatively short–lived seasonal spread of overt loving and good cheer, I am “putting out” the hope that we can extend good will to the folks who voted whichever other way from your vote, that they did. And a reminder: This doesn’t make them bad people.
So, ho, ho, ho — it’s time for some levity. Here’s to a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah and whatever else you celebrate this month, and here’s to some serious “good will towards man.”