A Christian holy day, the eve of the birth of Jesus Christ. For many Americans, it is a time that has absolutely nothing to do with the man, or the second part of the Holy Trinity of Father Son, and Holy Ghost, nor the simple carpenter - Jesus of Nazareth - at all. For a few it does have everything to do with the celebration of his birth, and the comfort of the hope his birth, and life, gives to them. These few are not the born-again, Evangelical, Jesus-Saves, hypocracy-bigots of the John Ashcroft ilk, but rather the truly devout, sane, rational, Christians that do understand the deep significance, and teachings, of this one "human", and the importance of "separation of church and state" in the exercise of the freedom of their religion.
But for most Americans it is a secularized time of joy, hope, peace, goodwill, sharing, and giving, unique to any other holiday of the year, shared by Christians and non-Christians alike. At the same time it is, for many of these same Americans, a celebration of commercial greed and profiteering, acceptable at a level not understood outside of the United States of America.
But this year, Christmas Eve 2003, finds the country more divided than at any other time in its 227 year history. Severely divided on several fronts:
1. Economic Divide - The gap between the top 2%, the top 3% to 5% and the lower 95% has never been greater in our nation's history. Along with the "Horatio Alger" traditional mode of access to wealth divide, that now exist within our divided America.
(See the excellent, and very well researched, article, in the Jan. 2004 issue of The Nation; The Death of Horatio Alger, to understand how bad it is now.)
2. Health Care Access Divide - 40 million Americans without any health insurance at all, many-many more with co-pay & deductible plans that give no real protection at all, while the upper economic classes have had full coverage their entire lives, and have no clue to what the real fear, and devastation, of not having it does to the lives of those without it.
3. Liberal vs Conservative Divide - It is no longer the respected "loyal opposition", but rather "you're either with us or against us." The country has never been this politically divided - To the point of referring to each other as traitors, un-American, un-patriotic, even terrorists. This is so wrong, and dangerous, on so many levels that it would take a book to go into the reasons.
4. Corporate Control vs Public Control of our Democracy - This divide is probably the most dangerous divide to our civil liberties, Constitutional freedoms, and survival of our democracy, of all the divides. The power of the real corporate control of our media, and legislative processes, is beyond the pale. But most frightening of all is the fact that this administration is not only supporting this control, they are doing all that they can - legally and illegally - to make it happen and getting away with it.
The economic conflicts of interest that exist with almost every single member of this administration is unprecedented in our entire 227 year history. From the president on down, through all three branches of our government. This president has successfully appointed to head, and to many of the lower management positions, of our federal regulatory agencies, the lawyers, executives, and lobbyists that spent their entire professional careers fighting the agencies that they now control. Many, like the Vice-president, still to this day, receive financial compensation from the very corporations that "their" agency is suppose to regulate, the corporations that the agency was created to regulate - to protect us - the people - the possible, and now real, abuses of.
Re-read that last paragraph. We are right now the closest we have ever been to losing our democracy - from within - than ever before in our entire 227 year history. This danger is real. As it stands now, it will take decades to correct, if that is even possible.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.