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Is there really 'good-will to men' this season?

It is somewhat cliché to hear someone say, "What is this world coming to?" However, I find myself thinking just that. Terror attacks, violence and gangs in our city – none of that seemed to be the case when I was raising my own children. I haven't looked at statistics, but it certainly seems like we live in a more violent time.

There is a Christmas poem by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that was written in the late 1800's. The poem begins describing "I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play." As it continues the author gets more and more disheartened by the violence of the time, shown in this stanza:

"Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

After his death in 1882, Walt Whitman described Wadsworth as "the poet of melancholy, courtesy, deference—poet of all sympathetic gentleness."

I certainly felt that emotion come through in those verses.

However, if you keep reading, he answers his own despair with the sort of feelings I think we all need to adopt this Christmas season:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

I do believe that.

This time of year is for family and love and happy gatherings. Yes, bad things happen all over the world, sometimes on our own doorsteps. It is good for us to shelter our tender young children from this reality.

But while gazing at Christmas lights on the houses and trees on my street and the bright stars in the sky each night, it reminds me that there is a higher power. There is a plan. It may not make sense to us today, but right will prevail.

So, I am singing carols just like "Buddy the Elf" says: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." I am grateful for the health, happiness and closeness of my family and for today – I will do all that I can to embrace good will to my fellow men, women and children.

Merry Christmas!

Listen to the poem, a popular Christmas Carol: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".

Sue Klein

Sue is a mom of two, grandmother of four and daughter to her own mother. She blogs about all things 'grandma.' ...

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