Now, it’s Christmas Time. The season of peace or so it should be. But it’s not. We as a people and a nation are under attack by sick, angry men and women. And they are winning. If they can make the leading GOP candidate say that no Muslims should be allowed in this country, they are winning. If they can make us shut our hearts to our own basic principles, they are winning. I pray it does not happen.
Let me go back a short space in time: In 1966 and 1967, I was an unhappy young man. I was a student at Yale Law School and I hated it. (I later grew to love it but that’s another story.) I was taking all kinds of perfectly legal drugs that doctors prescribed that messed with my brain and made me feel bewildered.
At that time in history, there was a lot of terrorism going on, largely from a group calling itself the Weatherman Collective, later renamed the Weather Underground, named for a line in a Bob Dylan song. Gail Sheehy wrote a killer article about them in New York Magazine and it compelled me to try to imagine what kind of people would do such things.
I was surrounded by other nutty people who — even at Yale — thought the only way in life they could ever be happy would be to be a Weatherman bomber, to blow things up, including themselves. I might add, parenthetically, that the Weathermen were largely Jewish and I do not recall anyone saying all Jews should be banned from entering the country.
Now, a lot of time has passed. About fifty years. I am a different man. The Weather Underground seems not compelling but repulsive. I lie in bed listening to Mozart, cuddling with my German short-haired pointer Julie, thinking about spending the day with people I love, especially my wife — we’ve been married since 1968 with a little break in the beginning.
I am a different person, largely uninterested in bombing except in stopping bombers, because in very large measure, I learned to turn my life and my will over to God. I have a merciful, loving God, who does not want anyone at Yale or anywhere near me to bomb anything.
He wants me to love everyone, to help those in need, to do my work and pay my bills, to be loyal to my glorious America, and to sum it all up, to live in gratitude. And this has changed my life: to think about what I have, to fall in love with what I have, especially my wife and my dog and my country and my son, and to feel humbled at the incredible gift of being an American.
When I was a lad, I was raised in a competitive environment. To be famous and rich was my goal. Those were false goals. The real goal, the only goal that matters, is to find peace and calm. How I wish that every school child could be taught each day to make a list of what he or she is grateful for that day, instead of his or her anger and jealousy and envy. How I wish I had been taught in third grade that getting along with people, not competing with them, was the highest and best use of my time. That peace of mind was the greatest good.
Yes, of course, we have to catch the terrorists among us. Yes, we have to spend more to do it and must raise taxes to provide for a genuine security state such as they have in Israel.
But for each of us, here at Christmas time, no hatred would be a great gift, no dividing ourselves up as a nation or by religions, no permanent grudges. We have only one life to live. Let’s live it in peace and not in anger and rage. The Weather Underground is long gone. But we are still here and if we can live at peace as a nation and as a people, we are the most victorious that any people could be. God bless America and Merry Christmas.
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