Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hate is strong and mocks the song

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" has been my favorite Christmas song since my Vietnam-era college days. But this year the words seem particularly relevant.

The song about holiday refrains of "Peace on Earth" is based on a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow not long after his soldier son had been seriously wounded in the Civil War.  In one stanza Longfellow laments:

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!”

       Although our country isn't at war now, hate seems to have taken over like dandelions popping up after a spring rain. Trump's whole campaign style was about inciting the anger and hatred simmering in the heartland. He blamed Mexicans and Muslims and media and Hillary and China -- and anyone else who happened to tick him off. Some of his followers took up this poisonous refrain and used it to lash out physically. Even some normally responsible, Christian people have rallied round his claims of greatness while the rest of us are still shaking our heads saying, "Didn't you hear what he just said?"
       I guess what scares me the most is not the hatred I see among his followers but the tendency to respond with equal venom. I don't like the anger he triggers in me. But lately I'm seeing a hopeful response, people really putting into practice "Love Trumps Hate." Individuals stepping up to protect and advocate for those likely to be victimized.
       Longfellow must have seen similar signs of hope because the poem has an upbeat ending:
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."

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