Bear with me here.
I am making a giant leap across centuries.
Traveling from a tiny village in the Middle East to the housing projects of London, but it is a trip worth taking this time of year, art least for me.
And particularly in light of what we read and see every day, no matter the platform, from a video game to the all-too real on television and newspapers.
No matter the faith, the central theme of Christmas is a boy, born in meager circumstances in Rome-occupied Bethlehem.
This boy, this zealot as he would be known in his day, would grow to have a huge following based on one central truth, summed up in more modern times by the Golden Rule and all sort of clichés and phrasing: love each other as you would love yourself.
Look beyond yourself with empathy, with caring for your fellow man.
Every Sunday preachers across the world sermonize on this concept, surrounded in the various scriptures, hymns and traditions of the church.
Beyond Christianity, in faiths across the world, yes, even the faith of Islam, despite what that name has come to represent, the central tenet is love of fellow man.
And, if that love is present today, it is often mighty hard to find.
Wars, civil and otherwise, are being fought across the globe.
There are more weapons in people’s hands than there are handshakes or pats on the pack.
Heck, we can’t even civilly agree on the science of climate change and what we are doing, and have been doing, to the only planet we will ever have.
The first Earth Day seems eons ago.
No, instead we have a 70-year-old man using his platform and Twitter to belittle a 16-year-old girl over the issue, an offense, I might add, that would likely lead to some sort of sheriff’s investigation in this county.
Speaking of this county, let 2020 bring an occasion when local government bodies actually take the time to listen to each other, quit turning governing into a zero-sum contest and treat each other with the respect they deserve for having voters put them office.
(Forgive me, county commissioners hold a slight disadvantage as they are only elected by one-fifth of eligible voters; city elections are just that, city-wide. We can’t even get voting right in any kind of civil manner).
If governing is a zero-sum game locally, it was only passed down from Tallahassee via Washington, D.C., where marble halls provide a fortress behind which lawmakers hide from the world that does not resemble the ones we inhabit.
Where it is all about us and them, win or lose, no matter the issue, no matter who gets hurt along the way.
The divisions in this country, the vitriol spouted almost every minute these days, depending on what you might view or read, are truly scary.
Frightening that this is what passes for leadership, whether you are an R or a D, or neither, today’s dialogue is so far removed from the spirit of Christmas, the idea of Christmas, as to be from another planet.
Christmas is not the lights, the presents, the tree, glitter and ornaments.
Christmas is not a feast, not a holiday, not a two-week vacation for school children.
To me, and maybe I am flying blind here, Christmas is about the birth of that baby and what that baby came to represent, and more importantly teach to us.
About glass houses, about no one person existing in higher plain than another, about empathy and about the power of love to heal, to mend, to bridge divides.
Now, to the London part of these scribblings.
A songwriter grew up and emerged from that city’s rougher haunts some years back, not wanting to date myself I will leave alone the year.
But along the way to this man’s highly-successful career he wrote and sang a song that resonates with me every Christmas season.
Lacking completely in any of the rhythms or phrasing of a traditional song of the season, we won’t call it a Christmas carol.
Far from it, as stated before, this was an artist who emerged in the punk music scene and the referenced song is loud and gruff.
But its title and chorus are, to me, striking at the heart of the season.
“What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”
Merry Christmas from all of us at The Star.