I am indebted to Leonard Pitts Jr., the Pulitzer Prize winning Miami Post columnist, for contrasting our deeply troubled nation in this Advent Season to the more imperiled America on Christmas Eve, 1941.
Two leaders–the U.S. president and the British prime minister–lit the national Christmas tree and said the following:
FDR: “Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God’s care for us and all men everywhere.”
Churchill: “Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grownups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.”
These words of high purpose from 70 years ago are absent–and seem even quaint–in our ideologically riven society. “Grownups” on each side of our domestic political divide are studiously avoiding the “stern task and formidable years before us,” concentrating instead on narrow, short-term political advantage for themselves. Rather than resolving, by sacrifice and daring, to protect and defend our children’s inheritance of a nation as good as the one left to us, we seem to have pledged eternal hostility to all who fail to adhere unwaveringly to our rigid view of the world–even if the ensuring stalemate threatens the world we will leave our children.
God save us, everyone.