Friday, December 25, 2009
'Tis the Season to be Liberal
They live near Detroit and have heard enough stories on the news and in their own schools to recognize that there are a lot of kids nearby who are a lot worse off than they are. There are kids who woke up afraid this morning, and will wake up afraid tomorrow morning, too. There are some things that just should not be.
Last night we drove around the neighborhood after dark to look at the Christmas lights. This is a neighborhood just 20 minutes from the center of Detroit where most of the residents are or were car company employees. This is a neighborhood that has been hit hard. I've talked about this place before, about the growing numbers of empty houses, red and green tags slapped on the doors--foreclosure notices dressed up in Christmas colors. The lights are out for them.
Last Christmas season was already a hard one for some but there was still hope, and, though some of the usual Festive homes had dimmed, there were still enough to keep the sky above the neighborhood glowing. This year there was no more pretending. It takes a lot of power to keep the strings of lights on, to keep those puffy santas and snowmen inflated. When times are tough, you have to weigh the luxuries. In times like these, even electricity becomes a luxury.
No reminders needed around here about how the neighborhood is struggling, but last night it hit home with a punch. We rolled past rows of dark houses, seeking out the few with doors and windows and roofs outlined with sparkling lights, the huge pine trees festooned with garlands of bright stars, the happy santas in their sleighs, signaling normality, hope, good cheer. They were like oases on a barren landscape, and they were few and far between.
We are a country in need this Christmas day. There are too many people going into the new year so much worse off than they were last year at this time. If the true spirit of Christmas is giving, it makes it easy for those of us who still have something left to give. We can give of our hearts, if nothing else. We can do what we can to bring hope to people who can't see the light in front of them. We can feed them, clothe them, house them; help them without judgment or pity but simply as one friend, one citizen to another, and be the better for it.
As the New Year arrives, we can resolve to use our strength to defeat the forces that keep our people down. We can make that promise because it's in us to recognize that the power of our country is in its people. If we let them down, we've let our country down. It's the message, the spirit of Christmas--the one we've heard before, but worth repeating:
Peace on earth, good will toward all.
And remember the children, please, for they shall lead us.
(Cross-posted at Talking Points Memo here.)