Written by Paul Penner Monday, 24 December 2012 14:57
“Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer....” —“A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Reflections of past Christmases come easy as Dec. 25 approaches. I have many fond memories of those bygone days.
Nothing compares to the present, however. The anticipated arrival of family lifts the spirits of everyone as we prepare for that delightful moment. I especially look forward to the first visit around the table, a beverage in hand, and once again, grandchildren are capturing our attention as they fill the house with their energetic, youthful laughter.
According to the weatherman, we have a slight chance that on Christmas Day we will have snow. Can it get much better than that?
In one segment of the video, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Linus says, “You’re the only person I know that can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.” Perhaps Linus is right. However, I identify more with Charlie Brown this year.
Reality has a crazy way of intruding into our lives, not to mention crushing our fantasies about the Christmas season.
As if we needed a dose of stark reality, the looming fiscal cliff and the complete dysfunction of our democratic process in Washington, D.C., suggests all is not well in our world. Rather than taking the high road and working toward a compromise, congressional leaders believe a political game of brinksmanship is preferable.
Rather than pass the farm bill with bipartisan support from moderate Democrats, House leaders have decided because they cannot pass it without Democratic support, they will not schedule the bill for a vote.
As if that were not enough bad news on this Christmas holiday, the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were massacred in the Sandy Hook School is in the forefront of our collective consciousness. I cannot imagine the intense sorrow their families and relatives are experiencing right now. This will be their first Christmas without their loved ones.
As if we needed even more bad news, this tragedy has re-ignited the debate over gun control and whether assault weapons should be banned. The arguments for and against some sort of ban reflects a serious lack of understanding of the underlying causes for gun violence. The family unit, as a means for modeling desirable social behavior that reflects high moral and spiritual values, is continuing to decay.
The intense debate reflects an equally serious dysfunctional nature in our social behavior. Rather than ask questions why this tragedy could have happened, people are buying assault weapons and associated gear at a faster pace than before the massacre.
A semi-automatic assault rifle with a large ammo clip is designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. It doesn’t take a real man to learn how to fire an assault rifle and to mow down innocent women who are protecting young children. It doesn’t take a real man to march into a classroom and execute innocent 6-year-old children whose only tragic experience until that day was losing a beloved toy in the clothes hamper.
It takes a real man to have the courage and the guts to honor his mother and father, even if it costs something to do it. It takes a real man to walk away from a confrontation and to know when to stand his ground.
It takes a real man to tell his beloved wife or special person that he will always be there and take care of her and will give his own life for her, if need be. In that sense, the deaths of Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, are equally tragic in this unfortunate drama.
It takes a real man to look into his child’s eyes and pledge to bring him or her up in the appropriate manner, so the child knows right from wrong and good from evil, and to be there through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.
Banning assault weapons may not be the only answer, but perhaps part of the answer. The real answer lies in whether we acknowledge before our Maker our imperfections and resolve—with his help—to bring hope and healing to people that are hurting so much.
There you have it. My Christmas edition, special delivery. I may still be a Charlie Brown most days, but I am working to become more like Linus in my way of thinking.
May God bring more blessings into your lives than you ever imagined possible. Merry Christmas!