When I first heard the lyrics to John Lennon’s hauntingly beautiful ‘Happy Christmas’ (War is Over) in 1972, it spoke to my heart in many ways and has since become a Christmas classic. Its message still resonates today.
‘And so this is Christmas, And what have you done?
Another year over, A new one just begun’
The question posed here (and for what follows) is not what ‘they’ have done; but what ‘we’ have done. It also suggests that it’s a question that matters year- long, not just at Christmas.
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones, The old and the young’
To me, this verse is about the love of family and friends. It’s a gift: one that’s so easily taken for granted. Former teacher, Abigail Shearer, once said after 90 years of Christmases: “On Christmas Eve, as I sit and reminisce, my memories will not be of Christmas concerts and sleigh rides, but of warmth and companionship, of loving and being loved.
And so this is Christmas, For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones, The world’s so wrong
We’re all in this global boat together. ‘The rain falls on the just and the unjust’ – the high and low. And, most would admit that we’ve been abundantly blessed – call it grace, opportunity, timing, happenchance – and not just because we worked harder or somehow deserved more … lest we forget, or even brag.
And so this is Christmas, For black and for white
For yellow and red ones, Let’s stop all the fight
‘We Day’ annual rallies for the Canadian charity ‘Free The Children’ (locally sponsored by RIM), has reached over one million students, who are given the objective of taking one action – both locally and globally – so poor communities may never need charity again. By changing their perspective from ‘Me’ to ‘We’, North American and UK students have been involved in raising $10 million for 500 organizations plus two million community service hours, to help children break out of future poverty cycles – setting the example at home and abroad.
Bah! Humbug! Some say, that the scattering of these seeds of hope is wasteful because some recipients will take unfair advantage. And, we know what the lack of good and honest stewardship can do – even to the world economy. Yet, should we turn our backs on the worlds’ little ones … ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’? While there’s life, there’s hope!
A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s good one, Without any fear
Here is where Lennon puts his finger on the pulse of life’s real issue; because the opposite of love is fear, not hate. When we’re fearful, we are anything but peaceful; but we can choose to change our responses.
War is over, If you want it
War is over, Now…
With less need in the world, maybe there would be more peace – as British primatologist Dame Jane Goodall notes, “… learning to live in peace with ourselves, between communities, between religions.”
In ‘A Christmas Carol’, published in December 1843 (Dickens’s great social critique), his main character ‘Scrooge’, is shown a ragged and cowering poor boy and girl – representing ’Ignorance’ and ‘Want’, respectively. He is told to mostly beware of the boy; because he represents ‘future doom’ – unless there’s some kind of intervention.
As of December 2011, injustice, hunger, poverty and oppression still exists – including 2 billion people without safe drinking water daily, 250 million child labours and 300,000 child soldiers.
So, it seems we still need the ‘sympathizing heart’ of a Dickens. Without the hope of Christmas, or, whatever is the belief of your understanding, the future would be bleak, indeed.
Christians believe ‘… a little child shall lead them’. Lead them where? To ‘Joy’ and ‘Peace on Earth’ – for now, forever. And, although, it seems like we’re getting nowhere, in time our love will show.
Are we there, yet? You tell me.
And so, this is Christmas…
Fred Parry http://youtu.be/v6b48kJaZTE fredparry.ca (2011)