DECEMBER 25, 1946
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Now we come to the second Christmas since the end of the war. All over the world there are still signs that peace returns slowly after an orgy of hate. Yet this is the season when in all hearts there is rejoicing.
People may celebrate simply the non-religious Christmas, over which jolly old St. Nick presides, or they may believe that the special significance of the season was carried by the Angels to shepherds, as they watched their flocks, and that today we still rejoice at the coming to our earth of the Saviour of men.
It is the season of goodwill and the season of giving. And if the spirit of giving could extend itself so that the hearts and the minds of men were chiefly concerned with what they could give and not with what they could receive, we would soon, I believe, see a change in the atmosphere of the world in which we live.
I am always interested to see how pleased some people apparently are to take things away from other people, whether it is their worldly goods or such intangibles as their characters or their reputations. It seems to be, almost inherent in human nature to glory in destruction rather than in building up, and yet everywhere at this season, we are reminded that once upon a time the Angels spread the gospel which has managed to live through the ages—that there must be peace on earth and goodwill to men.
After an orgy of cruelty and hate such as has gone on in Europe and Asia, it is harder than ever to bring people back to the spirit which animated the whole life of Christ, but that is what I believe we will have to achieve if we are going to build an atmosphere in which peace and goodwill can grow.
I think I can truthfully say that I have no feeling of real animosity against any man, but I believe that a negative feeling is not enough to accomplish that which must be accomplished in the world in the course of the next few years. We must consciously wipe animosities toward our neighbors and eventually into war.
Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself is not a very easy Commandment to obey, because there are times when one loves oneself very little indeed! On the whole however, we are kinder to ourselves than we are to our neighbors most of the time, and it would be well, I think, to develop a sense of tolerance and understanding toward humanity as a whole.
I hope that before the third postwar Christmas comes around, we will see a measurable improvement in the confidence of nations in each other. It will have to come through the medium of individuals who work together and who gain confidence which they can impart to their fellow countrymen.
So let us highly resolve on this Christmas Day, 1946, that each one of us will do our part, trying to build a bridge of understanding toward every individual from another land with whom we come in contact. We may differ but we can understand each other. And if we do, the Kingdom of God will be nearer to realization, and the Christ Child will not have come to earth in vain.