Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Michael Josephson: What is a good Christmas?

  Will this be a good Christmas?

  How will you measure it?

  For lots of kids, the answer may be embedded in the response to the question, “What did ya get?”

  On the other hand, retailers and Wall Street investors will look to sales and profits.

  What a pity that the spiritual and social potential of this a holiday can be so easily lost. To observant Christians, Christmas is a profoundly important day of worship, and so a “good” Christmas must include a meaningful religious connection with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

  But for many Christians and non-Christians, there are other dimensions to this day.

  In fact, Christmas is more than a single day; at least in the U.S., it’s a season involving weeks of preparation and celebration devoted to family, friendships and, most important of all, a grand vision of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

  As someone who is Jewish, I understand how the desire to be inclusive (stimulated by no small amount of political correctness) has caused us to neutralize the denominational quality of what we now call the “Holiday Season,” which includes Chanukah and Kwanza.

  At least for me, this dilutes the deeper meaning of a holiday devoted to celebration of a man and a message with a dominant message of love, forgiveness and peace.

  If we look beyond and beneath the Santa Claus image and the obsession with giving and getting gifts, there is something both profound and powerful about the way Christmas brings out the best in us.

  On a personal level, the optimism, good cheer, and goodwill embodied in the Christmas spirit are antidotes to selfishness and superficiality. They can help us find purpose and meaning in love, kindness, charity, gratitude, and forgiveness.

  So, to me, a good Christmas is one that helps us become better people so we can have better lives and a better society.

  A good Christmas is one when we can say we’ve made meaningful progress and an ongoing commitment to eradicate poverty, hunger, and homelessness. It would also be a good Christmas if we truly overcame the fears, suspicions, and prejudices that hinder our ability to truly experience and sincerely express goodwill to all, regardless of their ethnicity, national origin, or personal religion.

  So regardless of your religion, I hope you’ll make this a good Christmas.

  This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

  About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Mr. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.

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