The lessons learned from Christmas pastPublished 11:18am Saturday, December 18, 2010
“Tell me a story about the old days, Papa,” asked Jeremy, who Grandpa liked to call ‘Snapper’.
“OK, Snapper, let’s see…I know it may be hard for you to believe now, but there was once a time when people depended on war to settle their disagreements.”
“What’s a war?” Jeremy asked curiously.
“A war is when people use guns and bombs to destroy their enemies in order to get their way” responded the old-timer.
“But, Papa, didn’t they know that loving others is what helps people heal their differences?”
“I know it’s obvious to you young people these days, but we hadn’t learned the way of love yet. Many years ago there was a time when we grown ups got so angry at each other, we judged, attacked and hurt one another.”
“Because we were afraid. We didn’t understand that when someone harmed us, it was because our friend-to-be was hurting inside himself, and needed the understanding of a compassionate soul to free him from his pain.”
“You mean like when Peter pushed me?”
“Yes, Snap. I remember he shoved you in the hallway, and you fell and broke your ankle.”
“Ya, he had just failed another math test and he was really scared of his dad’s reaction. Besides, he was lonely, and didn’t know how to make friends. I think it just built up in him.”
“Yes, that’s the way it is with all people,” summed Papa. “Many years ago there used to be terrorists who would attack our country, and we thought they were bad people. So we wanted to kill them in return. We didn’t know they were just feeling overwhelmed by fear put in them by misguided men, and they were frightened we weren’t paying attention to their need for food, schools, medical care and such. In those days, we didn’t get it that feeling hopeless leads to violence and these men needed our understanding and forgiveness.”
“You might remember there was a time we kept people with dark skin as prisoners, and didn’t see their pain. We called them slaves. They eventually forgave us and helped us change.”
“Oh, ya. I remember now,” the boy said thoughtfully. “And before that, our ancestors invaded the new continent, overpowered most of the natives, and stole the land.”
“Yes, we killed between 7 and 12 million Native Americans then.”
“Because we were scared, right?”
“Yep. And because of greed, which is just another form of fear. Believe it or not, there was a time when we wanted something, we just took it. We had guns and they didn’t, so we could overpower them and get our way. It didn’t enter our minds then that they were important people just like anyone else.”
Papa continued, “Every race has struggled to be accepted at one time or another. Sometimes it was the Jews, sometimes Hispanics, sometimes Asians; immigrants of every kind came to what we then saw as “our” country and some people wanted to keep them out. You know why by now, buddy …”
“You got it. Anyway, it took us a long time to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
“Wow, that’s sad, Papa. You know, when I told Peter I was sorry he had a rough time on that test and listened to how tough things were at home, I could tell he saw me differently. My body healed, but more important, our relationship healed.”
“Yes, and I’ve noticed that’s the way you treat everyone now.”
“I’m glad we’ve learned to love and be sensitive to what people need. The world’s such a peaceful, warm place when we remember everyone is God’s child and we’re here to share what we have with others who have less.”
“Yep, when Jesus came to earth, he came not just for white people or rich people, or people who had learned to treat others with sensitivity and caring. He came for the outcasts, the lonely, the disadvantaged, the hurting, and those who had not yet learned how to love others. Since then, your generation has learned how to do that. To us old folks, it’s a mighty pretty picture.”
“You’re welcome Snapper. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas, Papa. I love you.”
“Thanks, Snap, I know. You love everyone,” he said with a nod. “Just the way Jesus wanted it…”
David Larson is a licensed psychologist and personal life coach. He can be reached at the Institute for Wellness at 507-373-7913 or at his website, www.callthecoach.com.