As my Christian friends begin to celebrate their special holy day, let’s take a minute to remember that good will and peace on earth which are two of the important Christmas values are not exclusive to Christians. Good will toward all and peace on earth are also Jewish values and Muslim values and Hindu values and Buddhist values. All the great religions of the world teach these ideals. But let’s be honest we human beings have a hard time actualizing these two!
When there are nasty voices like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins who angrily rant that religion is the cause of war and strife they miss the profound point. They miss the point that religion is a system to promote higher human ideals of how we ought to be. The problem isn’t really religion it is the human beings who try to live out the ideals. Are there issues? YOU BET! Are there sociological and historically bound ideas that need to be updated in the realm of religious ideals -ABSOLUTELY!
That is why I have a progressive view toward religion and our changing world. That is why I understand the Torah to be ever evolving and growing just like humanity. And as we seek to better understand our world and ourselves religion must adapt to those newer realities.
Imagine if these two principles guided our Senators and Representatives. The soldiers would come home. And there would be equality for all. Immigrants wouldn’t be seen as the other. And perhaps more might get done in Congress because they Senators and Representatives might assume good will with each other. Yes that is a different reality.
Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All are beautiful ideals that religion teaches. And we all ought to strive for these each and every day not only at Christmas time.