Goodwill offerings have become seasonal

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

This single phrase has its origins in the Gospel of Luke as part of the message delivered by the angels to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus.

Known as the Annunciation to the Shepherds, the angelic message is central to the nativity, giving hope to mankind with the arrival of the son of God.

Yet today, there is neither peace on earth nor goodwill to men.

The essential aspect of goodwill is the central ingredient absent in our current public discourse.

And yet, it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when disagreements were resolved and, regardless of the eventual outcome, both sides continued to hope for goodwill for all involved.

Modern man has fought wars and then devoted abundant support for the defeated side. That was but one example of mankind displaying goodwill to the vanquished.

There are countless examples of goodwill in sports — we call it sportsmanship — to show our compassion and goodwill for our fellow combatants.

But today’s political arena is sorely lacking in the aspect of goodwill. And I see no end in sight.

Social media, too, is increasingly the source of anonymous acrimony that abandons all pretense of goodwill.

For but a brief moment during this Christmas season, goodwill will again enter public discourse. But for only a moment.

And when the seasonal decorations are safety tucked away for another year, we’ll tuck away the momentary goodwill and draw the battle lines anew.

Goodwill and civility are joined at the hip. Yet legions have been written concerning the current erosion of civility in public discourse. And when civility is abandoned, goodwill will surely fall.

When Luke describes the message delivered to the world, it offered the promise of a new day. It offered a renewal, a new beginning.

The message of goodwill is rapidly being lost in the loud voices of dissent that dominate the political landscape.

But it’s not just limited to politics. Cultural and social issues on the hot topics of the day end not in civil disagreement but outright disdain with no hint of goodwill.

Is there a way to return goodwill, not just in this joyous season but year-round?

The answer lies not with the political class but within each of us.

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