How to Recapture the True Spirit of Christmas in a Toxic Age
By John W. Whitehead - December 20, 2017

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” ―  Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas

I keep waiting to encounter the “kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant” Christmastime environment that Charles Dickens describes in A Christmas Carol: “when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

Instead, every time I read a news headline or flip on the television or open up an email, I run headlong into people consumed with back-biting, partisan politics, sniping, toxic hate, meanness, unfriending and materialism.

How is it that despite all of the blessings and advantages we in the United States possess, as a nation we continue to major in minors, prioritizing politics and profit margins over decency and human-kindness?

We’ve been operating in this topsy-turvy, inside-out, upside-down state of being for too long now, but the absence of goodwill, charity and human kindness is especially apparent now, with Christmas just around the corner when, as Charles Dickens notes, “Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”

For instance, Americans spent an estimated $6.9 billion dollars on federal elections in 2016. And what do we have to show for it? More of the same. The halls of Congress and the White House are as polluted as ever.

The country’s endless wars, foreign occupations and targeted drone killings have stretched our military thin, robbed us of resources needed to shore up our infrastructure, and left us vulnerable to blowback, and yet the U.S. government has committed close to $6 trillion to advance wars in the Middle East and prop up the military industrial complex.

Pork barrel legislation, waste, corruption and general mismanagement have also contributed to the government’s ballooning $20 trillion debt. Yet the politicians continue to find ways steal from those who can least afford it, while leading lives of luxury and excess.

Local governments continue to enact policies criminalizing homelessness and making it difficult for those who attempt to feed or shelter the homeless. Yet on any given night, more than 500,000 homeless Americans sleep on the streets or in emergency shelters; more than half of New Yorkers are one paycheck away from homelessness; and one out of every 6 children in the United States doesn’t know when their next meal will be.

To sum things up, Americans have shelled out trillions of dollars of hard-earned tax dollars on political circuses, war machines and graft that fed no one, clothed no one, sheltered no one, and did not in any way shift the balance of power in the country between the haves (the oligarchic elite that runs Washington DC) and the have nots (the millions of taxpayers whose needs are not being heard or represented, and who must labor to pay for the corruption, excesses and graft of the power elite).

When will we ever learn?

Before you know it, Christmas will be a distant memory and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of politics, war, violence, materialism and mayhem.

There may not be much we can do to avoid the dismal reality of the police state in the long term—not so long as the powers-that-be continue to call the shots and allow profit margins to take precedence over the needs of people—but in the short term, there are things we can all do right now to make this world (or at least our small corners of it) just a little bit kinder, a little less hostile and a lot more helpful to those in need.

If we want it badly enough, that is.

As John Lennon reminded us, “War is over, if you want it.”

Those last four words are key: “if you want it.” What we must ask ourselves is how badly do we really want peace, a world without hatred and war, and an end to hunger and disease? As Lennon pointed out, “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

No matter what one’s budget, religion, or political persuasion, here are a few things we can do right now to beat the police state blues and recapture the true spirit of Christmas.

Tone down the partisan rhetoric, the “us” vs. “them” mentality. Politicians frequently perpetuate a “good” versus “evil,” “us” versus “them” rhetoric which pits citizen against citizen and allows the politicians to advance their personal, political agendas. Instead of wasting time and resources on political infighting, which gets us nowhere, it’s time Americans learned to work together to solve the problems before us. The best place to start is in your own communities, neighbor to neighbor.

Minimize the technology and tune into what’s happening in your family, in your community and your world. Ration your screen time. Minimize your exposure to social media. Trade virtual communities for real ones. Get involved with a nonprofit that works in your community. Greet your neighbors. Make time for family meals. Spend time talking to each other instead of at each other. Whatever you do, reduce your intake of mindless television and entertainment news. The only reality programming worth taking notice of is the one playing in your home and community.

Show compassion to those in need, be kind to those around you, forgive those who have wronged you, and teach your children to do the same. Increasingly, people seem to be forgetting their p’s and q’s—basic manners that were drilled into older generations. I’m talking about simple things like holding a door open for someone, helping someone stranded on the side of the road, and saying “please” and “thank you” to those who do you a service—whether it be to the teenager bagging your groceries or the family member who just passed the potatoes.

Talk less, listen more. Take less, and give more. If people spent less time dwelling on and attending to their own needs and more time trying to help and understand those around them, many of the problems we currently face could be eliminated. Instead of counting your many complaints, count your blessings and pay them forward. Here’s where I’ll put in a plug for The Rutherford Institute, which is one of the most hard-working, ethical and selfless organizations out there trying to make this sorry little world a better place. If the spirit of giving moves you, take a moment to send some love their way. They’re doing a lot with very little, and they can use all the help they can get.

Stop being a hater. Increasingly, we as a society have come to reflect the hostility at work in the world at large. This is so even in such a virtual microcosm as Facebook, where “unfriending” those with whom you might disagree has become commonplace. How can we ever hope to curb the hatred and animosity that have spurred global terrorism over the past few decades if we can’t even forgive the human failings of those in our immediate circles?

Learn tolerance in the true sense of the word. There’s no need to legislate tolerance through hate crime legislation and other politically correct mechanisms of compliance. True tolerance stems from a basic respect for one’s fellow man or woman. And it should be taught to children from the time they can understand right from wrong.

Value your family. The family, such that it is, is already in great disrepair, torn apart by divorce, infidelity, overscheduling, overwork, materialism, and an absence of spirituality. Despite the billions we spend on childcare, toys, clothes, private lessons, etc., a concern for our children no longer seems to be a prime factor in how we live our lives. And now we are beginning to see the blowback from collapsing familial relationships. Indeed, more and more, I hear about young people refusing to talk to their parents, grandparents being denied access to their grandchildren, and older individuals left to molder away in nursing homes. Yet without the family, the true building block of our nation, there can be no freedom.

Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and comfort the lonely and broken-hearted. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take part in local food drives. Take a meal to a needy family. “Adopt” an elderly person at a nursing home. Support the creation of local homeless shelters in your community. Urge your churches, synagogues and mosques to act as rotating thermal shelters for the homeless during the cold winter months. Jesus—the reason for the season, as they say—is quoted in the Book of Matthew as cautioning his followers, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” In other words, put your faith into action and help those in need.

Give peace a chance.  The military industrial complex has a lot to gain financially so long as America continues to wage its wars at home and abroad, but you can be sure that the American people will lose everything unless we find some way to give peace a chance.

We’re all in the same boat together. It’s been a toxic year full of hateful rhetoric demonizing those with whom one might disagree politically, racially, religiously, culturally, economically, morally, etc. These differences won’t matter in the long run. At a certain level, we’re all the same. We’re all in the same boat together. Indeed, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, unless we do something to stop it the oppression and injustice of the police state now—whether it takes the form of shootings, surveillance, fines, asset forfeiture, prison terms, roadside searches, and so on—we will all suffer the same deadly fate eventually.

As Dickens reminds us, it’s never too late to make things right in the world and try to be better people and, most importantly of all, pay your blessings forward.

Whether you do it as the Grinch did by reaching out to people with whom you don’t see eye to eye and building bridges of friendship, or as Scrooge did, by repenting of his greed, selfishness and bah humbuggery and looking out for those in need, the point, my friends, is to do it now before it’s too late, not just at Christmastime, but always.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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  • DonRL

    Isn’t is strange that as we approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who the angels announce with “Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth and good will to men” then about 3 years later they crucified. Shakespeare wrote, “shall we memorize another Golgotha?”
    God gave us this great Gift of His Son fulfilling a promise made to Adam and Eve to send them the Savior (Genesis 3:15) and we reacted by killing Him. I God’s mercy and grace He allowed the death of His Son to pay for our sins even the sin of killing Jesus.
    2000years later we still have not learned the lesson of Christmas and Calvary.
    God has provided a great and gracious salvation to deliver us from our hatred, prejudice, selfishness, greed, lust and pride.
    Let us remember God’s graciousness for us and His unselfish Gift to us. A Gift with present power to enable us the live righteously and eternal blessing.
    God has a plan for us. He has provided for us so we can enter into His eternal blessing. We can chose to enter His blessed plan and be forever blessed or we can chose to ignore the blessing He has provided and suffer the consequences.
    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved from the awful consequences of ignoring His provision to save and bless us. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will enter into His Kingdom in which dwells righteousness and eternal joy. The choice is yours.
    Remember the true reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

    • Marten

      Christmas is not the birth of Jesus Christ…..but the winter Solstice…period

      • DonRL

        Yes! Yes! Blah, Blah
        We know that Dec 25 is not the actual birthday of Jesus but,
        this is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
        So the point of my comments are still the same!

        • Col. Edward H. R. Green


          I am an avowed, explicit atheist.

          There is a secular message of the holiday that predates your Christ by many centuries.

          Following is Ayn Rand’s reply when asked whether it is appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas (Ms. Rand was an atheist):

          “Yes, of course. A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the the Christian religion.

          The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry Christmas”—not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance . . . .

          The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us.

          One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.”–Ayn Rand

          I know you theists have a very difficult time separating a secular message from its messenger, especially when the messenger is Ayn Rand (that’s *your* problem, not the messenger’s), but since I don’t know you, I am going to go out on a limb here and presume that you will choose to permit yourself to do that–perhaps for the first time in your life.

          • Heretic Jones

            If you think about the term ‘atheist’, it suggests the existence of a god or gods that a person chooses not to believe in. It suggests that atheists are simply missing something or simply wrong – that they’re choosing to not believe in what is true. The term ‘atheist’, then, is an insult to folks who have made an evidence-based choice to reject religion. Agnostic isn’t quite right either…

          • Col. Edward H. R. Green

            Your “understanding” of atheism is confused. That is likely due to your interactions with ignorant, defectively-educated theists (I know that’s a redundancy).

            The word “atheist” is derived from the Ancient Attic Greek “a theo”, which translates “without a god”, which means without *any* theistic beliefs. It is a metaphysical position that asserts that supernatural entities, including *any* god or gods, are metaphysical impossibilities.

            Theistic beliefs are based not on any evidence from reality, but are, in fact, based upon a false, dualistic (natural/supernatural) view of reality. Consequently, their god or gods are simply fictive constructs that are merely the product of human imagination.

            Atheism, on the other hand, is evidence (reality)-based. It is a metaphysically monistic position supported entirely by evidence of the fully natural nature of human beings and that of the constituents of this world and the universe.

            “The term ‘atheist’, then, is an insult to folks who have made an evidence-based choice to reject religion.”

            You should now understand that this statement is not true.

            “Agnostic isn’t quite right either…”

            That’s because Agnosticism is a “fence-sitting” term used by people who, basically, implicitly or explicitly subscribe to metaphysical dualism but haven’t objectively examined it to discover its flaw, so in their ignorance, they are uncertain what position to take. Thus there are agnostic theists and agnostic atheists.

            It’s also used by cowardly strong (100%) atheists who don’t want to “antagonize” or “insult” people by being explicit about their strong atheism.

            I am an avowed, explicit strong atheist. I don’t wear it on my sleeve and get in anyone’s face about it because the facts that support strong atheism don’t need anyone’s defense of them to make them metaphysically sound. My responsibility is to assert and defend my right to verbally express and live by my strong atheism where my own life and private property, including my business property, are concerned.

            Facts also don’t “care” if anyone is insulted by them.

          • Heretic Jones

            Exactly – thank you!

          • DonRL

            I am REALLY sorry that you are an atheist.
            The Bible says “the fool has said in his hear that there is no God.”
            Since you reject God’s existence, you would also reject that there is a creator. Then I suppose that you think that in the beginning there was matter and it evolved and that caused everything to exist.
            Since you have rejected the truth that God does exist and that He created all things you have to replace this truth with something. So you imagined something, like evolution, to replace the truth.
            Do you realize that evolution is not a science but the origins doctrine of materialism. Those who believe in God have “In the beginning God created” and those who do not have imagine their origins doctrine “in the beginning matter evolved”
            Such foolish imaginations will not absolve you of responsibility before God. You will stand before God and give and answer for your unbelief.
            God says that His creation is sufficient evidence of His existence and that He created all that is such that no one has an excuse. Your denial of God’s existence and His creation will not give you an escape from His judgment.
            You could accept God’s gracious offer of salvation and escape His judgment. The choice and consequences are yours.
            Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
            Truth whether you believe it or not.

          • Col. Edward H. R. Green

            “I am REALLY sorry that you are an atheist. ”

            Why, thank you, DonRL, that’s very condescending of you. I am very touched.

            “The Bible says “the fool has said in his hear that there is no God.”

            Nice masterful combination of both the Fallacy of Appeal to Authority (“The bible says…”) and the Fallacy of Ad Hominem (“fool”), and all based upon a false dualistic metaphysics that undergirds everything in your reply.

            Well played !

            But not in any way that I haven’t heard before during my discussions over several decades with theists and many of their religions high officials (pastors, a bishop, a cardinal, some rabbis, a few imams).

            Belief whatever theism you choose, and practice it on your own hide, and on your own private property, and in your own place of “worship”.

            But DO NOT DARE to try to establish a theocracy !!

          • DonRL

            I was not trying to be condescending. I was trying to be truthful. I do have real heartfelt sorrow for you in your precarious situation. I suppose that you did really intend to be sarcastic.
            I am not using any fallacies but only Biblical truth and the authority of God’s Word. What authority do you speak from?
            I am sure you have heard it all before and rejected God and His offer of salvation. I on the behalf of God and obeying His command am reaching out to you again. God’s love for you is not diminished by your rejection of Him.
            There will come a time when the offer of salvation will not be available to you (if you die without accepting His offer).
            I am not playing but in earnest in expressing God’s love, care and provision for you.
            I am not trying to establish a theocracy, God will do that Himself in His own time. I am only telling you about the provision God has made for you so that you can be a part of His Kingdom. The alternative is Hell, literally. God’s offer stands as long as you are alive.
            The choice is yours: Heaven or Hell. Which will you chose?

  • Dimitri Ledkovsky

    When I attempt to follow the the Happy Christmas suggestions enumerated above I end up feeling like I’m being attacked by a flock of angry vultures.

  • Greg

    What’s interesting about this take is that those immersed in the very things that he talks about, being divided politically, racially, religiously, culturally, economically, morally, etc., largely as a result of the very strong propaganda mechanisms in place, can’t see their way out of their situation to be able to think independently like this. It’s true on both sides. They’re so consumed with hatred for others, not necessarily hatred of sinful and/or destructive behaviors, rather hatred of their fellow man, which renders them incapable of seeing the proverbial forest for the trees.

  • fred

    Thank you you made me cry i see there is still hope

  • Dimatteo

    An outstanding article, duly bookmarked to be revisited time and time again. That’s made my Christmas. Thank you.

  • Heretic Jones

    I read an interesting article about the birth of Christ. No one really knows his specific birth date, not even the specific year. Recently, an astronomer pieced together the movement of the stars and planets (which is entirely knowable) and found that in 2 BC, June 17 to be exact, the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter brought these planets so close that they would have been perceived as a single, unusually bright star. If there was a so-called Christmas star visible in the holy land night sky some time between 3 BC and 1 AD, when it is thought Jesus was born, this would have been a good candidate – maybe even unusual enough for religious people to view it as a sign.

    • DonRL

      The wise men from Babylon were not religious people but they came asking “Where is He that is born the king of the Jews. We (being in the east) have seen His star.
      Where did they get the idea that this “star” was a sign of the birth of the king of the Jews?
      The is a prophecy in the book of Daniel chapter 9 which says that from the command (of the Persian king) to rebuild Jerusalem (See Nehemiah chapter 2) that it would be 483 years until the king would appear. Since they were also from the same area as the Persian king (and the area in which Daniel was held captive and wrote the prophecy) they knew this prophecy.
      Seeing the star about 33 years before Jesus presented Himself to the Jews and their king they believed that this was a heavenly event that announced His birth. With this knowledge they mad the journey and asked where He was born. The Jewish priest told them according the Micah 5:2 He would be born in Bethlehem in Judea. So they went and found Him as the prophets foretold.
      They brought gifts Gold – acknowledging His deity; Frankincense – an incense specially prepared for the worship of God; and Myrrh – an embalming spice acknowledging His death as the prophet said that he would be “cut off but not for himself” (That is he would be killed but not for any crime or wrong He had done.) He died for your sins and mine.
      He paid the debt you and I owed. Based on HIs sacrifice all those who trust in what He has done can be saved from having ot pay for their own sins in Hell.
      Will you chose to trust HIm and be saved or not and be eternally lost.
      Your suppositions and guesses are misguided and in error, imaginations which are empty and without meaning. They serve only to give you some self made assurance that you are OK in your rebellion and unbelief. There is not real assurance or comfort in such vain imaginations. Only the truth that is Jesus Christ will suffice.
      Jesus bids all who labor under such delusions to come to Him and He will give you rest which will satisfy your soul.

      • Heretic Jones

        Cool story! Thanketh you!

        • DonRL

          Thanketh you for you thaketh you.
          This goes to show that the birth of Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God who came to save sinners like me and you is real and the salvation He offers (that HE paid for) is yours if you chose to accept Him.
          God revealed what He would do and the wise men relied on what God said. What God said was real then and could be relied on and what God says is still real and can be relied on.
          John 3:16 (KJV)
          16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
          By believing on Jesus and trusting His payment for your sins He will save you from perishing and will give you eternal life.
          He went through death and came out alive. He can do that for you. Trust Him.

  • Samarami

    Anybody genuinely interested in the nature of this collectivist holiday comin’ up (that amounts to an enormous concordat between religion and state) should not fail to read this: