'Twas The Night Before Christmas, 1967

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

On Christmas Eve, 1967, Lyndon Johnson landed in Washington after one of the longest days in presidential history. His plane departed Australia for Thailand, then Vietnam, and on to the Vatican to discuss the war with Pope Paul VI. Finally, the weary President returned to the White House to draft a Christmas message.

With exhaustion evident in his words, he told of his journey.

Now, on the airstrip at Camranh Bay, your sons and I exchanged "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year." I told them that I wished I could bring them something more -- some of the pride you feel in them, some tangible symbol of your love and concern for them.


I decorated 20 of them for gallantry in action. Their faces seemed more grave than the others -- preoccupied, I thought, with the savage experience of battle they had endured.

In the hospital, I spoke with those who bore the wounds of war. You cannot be in such a place, among such men, without feeling grief well up in your throat; without feeling grateful that there is such courage among your countrymen.

That was Christmastime in Vietnam -- a time of war, of suffering, of endurance, of bravery and devotion to country.


Now that the Holy Day itself has come, I wish each of you a full
measure of happiness. I hope that all of you may remember this
Christmas, the brave young men who celebrate the Holy Season far from their homes, serving their country -- serving their loved ones -- serving each of us.

I hope, too, that your hearts may be filled with peace within, as your country seeks peace in the world.

It was a somber Christmas message from a deeply conflicted man. Perhaps Johnson saw his own folly: escalating violence in the search of peace. In doing so, he found "neither peace within nor peace without."

This search for peace was the basis of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermon that Christmas Eve in 1967. He said, "Let us this morning think anew on the meaning of that Christmas Hope: 'Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.'"

At his home church in Atlanta, Georgia, King spent his last Christmas urging the President, the country, and the world to see that peace cannot be borne from violence. That night, he spoke of how the distant must be our dependents (and we, theirs), how the hateful must be our loved, and how our ends must be our means.

King spoke of the suffering he'd witnessed at home and abroad. A great mass of humanity was going hungry -- without peace within -- in a world that had mountains of surplus food. Neglecting them, he thought, would be to neglect our peace.

Because we would not find peace, King said, until we came to the realization that we are all brothers and sisters and that "as nations and individuals, we are interdependent." Today, in the age of terrorism and globalization, we can see more clearly how our interdependence underlies our peace.

And even more today, in our world of polarization and hatred, we must come to a new understanding of love, just as King suggested some 39 years ago. This love "is more than friendship," it is "understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill toward all men."

This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Love your enemies." And I'm happy that He didn't say, "Like your enemies," because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can't like anybody who would bomb my home. I can't like anybody who would exploit me. I can't like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can't like them. I can't like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out.
Here King spoke of violent racists, but it applies today in our struggle against extremists, of any sort. We cannot allow others' hatred to destroy what is best in us. As King put it, "We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love."

And to all those seeking peace -- and as if in reply to Johnson's anguish -- King said,

[W]e will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can't reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

... Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? [He is] talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

A conclusion that escapes those in power, still today.

Increasing violence had failed President Johnson that Christmas Eve, yet he chose escalation, upping 1968's draft call by 720,000 less than a month later. Now, another Christmas Eve, another war, and seemingly another escalation.

It's likely King knew his idea was still a distant dream. Because that night, he closed his sermon with another famous dream -- the one he shared on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- adding to it,

I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

There's more...

How the War On Christmas started. (political cartoon)

Crossposted from Town Called Dobson

click to enlarge

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Merry Capitalist Frenzy!

With precious few days left to drain your savings, have you done your American duty and spent yourself stupid for Jesus?

I can't help but type and feel bitter as I look back on this and the several years before it. As I think of our country and how far from our roots we have drifted. As I think of Bush, as I think of Cheney, as I think of the Iraq we have made...As I think of these several things, I can't help but wonder what we as Americans have to be thankful for on this our national day of spending?!

We have fallen so far from the ideals of Democracy, pissing on the graves of our founders, as our President and his administration have seemingly, joyously used our sacred Constitution as common toilet paper; a soiled rag to be flushed.

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Gremlins Did It!

I hope you and your family had a Happy Thanksgiving past, and that your holiday season is off to a joyful beginning. With today planned as the grand debut of our webzine "WE! The People" we ran into a glitch, maybe it was gremlins.

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No More Italian Pasta because it Offends the Germans?

   "Happy Holidays," is appropriate for a cashier to say to a customer because he is unaware of the customer's beliefs. The customer could celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or another holiday during the month of December. By saying "Happy Holidays," the cashier is wishing the customer the best of luck and joy during the customer's holiday season. There is nothing wrong with the above scenario.
    A problem comes into play when stores change their "Christmas Tree" sign to a "Holiday Tree" sign. This is one of the most brainless, unintelligent, dumb, silly and stupid ideas I have ever heard in my lifetime. A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree. It is not a Hanukkah tree nor is it a "Holiday" tree. People who celebrate Christmas put up a Christmas tree. Usually one would use a pine tree from the outdoors and bring it into the house. The tree would still be considered to be a pine tree until one would put ornaments on the branches. After the ornaments are on it can be considered a Christmas tree. The children of the house would then go into their little beds and sleep until morning. During the night a fat man with a white beard, red suit and black boots would jump down the chimney and leave presents for all the good children. This is the holiday we call Christmas. Never is it a "Holiday Tree," it is pine tree then Christmas tree.
    The Jewish faith does not up a tree and decorate it, nor does any other holiday in December. Why not you ask? BECAUSE IT'S A CHRISTMAS TREE! You only put it up if you celebrate CHRISTMAS! A Jewish person would not put up a CHRISTMAS TREE because they do not celebrate CHRISTMAS! A person who celebrates CHRISTMAS would not put up a MENORAH because he celebrates CHRISTMAS and not HANUKKAH. What is so hard to understand?

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