“In the United States Christmas has become the rape of an idea.”
– author Richard Bach”I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want millions;
More than money saved, I wanna save children…”
– hip-hop artist Common

Dear friends and family:
Here’s my Christmas list, in no particular order of importance. A lot of the stuff may not be found in stores or advertised on television, so you might want to write them down and keep them in mind:

– Food, shelter, and honest, well-paid work for the poor, hungry, and unemployed in my community, the U.S., and the world
– Practical, substantive protection of human rights by our government first and foremost, and all other governments, corporations, and organizations worldwide, whatever this may imply (an end to our practices and funding of torture, illegal detention, and war might be a start)
– Protection and conservation of our vital and dwindling resources and the environment through sustainable practices
– An end to violent and irrational conflicts between nations and sectarian groups, starting perhaps with an end to our governments’ participation and support for such conflict
– Universal health care, education, etc. for all peoples regardless of sex, race, religion, economic level, nationality, etc., especially those millions most in need, many of whom are dying of curable and treatable diseases
– The abolition of arsenals of nuclear weapons and other WMDs by all countries, starting at home here in the U.S. but extending to others (India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran)
– Support, companionship, and effective treatment for all people suffering emotional disorders or going through hard times this Christmas (or at any other time)

I know this is a lot. What can I say, I guess I am greedy…’cause you know, I want even more than this. But it seems to me that these are the things that I really do want, more than more clothes or books or music or candy…I have a hell of a lot of those things already…too much in fact. Given that I already have so much of those things, I think what I really want now are the above. Now of course, it’s not so easy. These are not only big problems that will take decades and decades of collective effort to acheive (if they ever can be), but we have to reject some of the fundamental values of our consumer society to do so, don’t we? Hell, maybe we even have to change a few laws and rebuild a few institutions some day. But this is nothing new to us either, and we are not defined by the interests of a few powerful corporations and their ideas of what we should be…are we? Go find a Bible and read some of what that exploited peasant carpenter Jesus of Nazareth is supposed to have said (maybe he wasn’t a god as many believe, but that only makes his insights into injustice, poverty, and wealth more amazing). Here is some of what he apparently said, arranged by the author of the Gospel of Matthew:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Poor fool…he would so not make it in America. This is not exactly the kind of stuff you would see in Pentagon strategy papers, presidential addresses, or television and magazine ads. Hell, when’s the last time you heard this in church or from national religious leaders even?

The actions of a society are basically a composite of the actions of individuals. One person makes a contribution, and maybe asks a few of their friends and acquaintances to consider doing the same. One or two of them do so, and maybe they tell someone else. Or maybe they don’t…maybe it all ends there with your contribution. Even so, something is added to the world…something small but very significant, and you can celebrate the fact that you have taken responsibility for yourself and made a little contribution (‘blessed are the peacemakers’ and ‘those who hunger and thirst after justice’). There is only so much that an individual can do, but doing even a fraction of that is significant, if not in the ‘big picture’ then in some of the smaller ‘pictures’ that make up our own lives.

Well, do what you want to, and have a good Christmas. But just know if you get me a five-blade shaver to replace my ‘obsolete’ and ‘inferior’ four-blade shaver, I am going to kill you with it, ‘holiday spirit’ and gospel truths be damned.

Sincerely,
Peter Broady

Please consider giving to one of the following charities (or one of your own choosing) this Christmas, for yourself and/or in honor of your friends and family. I myself have already given to Amnesty International, my local Food Bank, and encouraged all of my family to give to World Vision, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations in my name.
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/
Human Rights Campaign (LGBT oriented): http://www.hrc.org/
American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.hrc.org/
There are of course many others I could mention!
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