Of all the days, perhaps Christmas is the day that holds the most universal meaning. Of course we all have those days that touch our hearts in special ways; perhaps it’s a birthday, an anniversary, a day we lost a dear loved one, or a day of a remarkable accomplishment. But, those days are highly personal.
On tChristmas Day, we are more or less bound together to celebrate, or at least commemorate, the birth of Christ. Even those that aren’t adherents to the Christian faith still find some of their holiest of days this time of year. And of course, the secular world celebrates this day as well.
At this time of year we are compelled to give and receive gifts and tidings of joy for everyone. It’s perhaps the only time of the year where generosity, kindness and compassion are not only expected, but it is celebrated.
Many times during this season, I can’t help but look to the sky and recognize how lucky humanity really is. We live on a planet that supports our ability to live. We are given feelings that help us understand and interpret this world we inhabit. We are given the ability to think and create and discover the beauty held within this world we live.
And yet, all of this is in sharp contrast to a world that can still be evil. Even from the times of Cain and Abel, passing through when Moses came down from the mountain with the stone tablets, to today, humanity still struggles fighting urges to kill, to steal, to covet, to have our hearts full of anger.
In my mind, Christmas is that day, when we should keep in our hearts the understanding that compassion, kindness and generosity are still better than anger, frustration and pain.
And as easy as that may be to say, we must still be reminded of it every single day.
I think one of the greatest tricks the Devil ever pulled on humanity is to convince us that kindness, compassion and generosity are simply attributes and not actions.
Kindness, compassion and generosity are the muscles of humanity. And like the physical muscles of our body, these muscles will atrophy and shrink if we don’t use them, stretch them and stress them to get stronger each and every day. If we aren’t willing to stretch ourselves to be kind, to be compassionate and be generous, we won’t be that way after a while. I honestly believe it’s not enough to be kind, we are here to do kind.
For example, how many times have we mistaken love as a feeling and not an action? Regretfully, I know I have. Even with my own family, how many times have I said, “I love you,” and failed to follow that up with actions that really matter? How many times have I left my kids wanting to play a simple card game? How many times have I not had that long conversation with my wife that she really wants? Honestly, too many times to mention.
And to make matters worse, what happens when the muscles of kindness, compassion and generosity don’t get stronger? I believe it allows anger, frustration and pain to enter our souls in a much easier fashion. Much like a virus, if our spiritual systems aren’t strong, things that we used to just shrug off can easily make us angry and frustrated.
In about a week, we will all make our New Year’s resolutions and undoubtedly losing weight and getting fit will be high on our collective list. This year, I am going to challenge you to get stronger today. Start by understanding that the key to a generous, kind and compassionate world begins with you! And it takes daily work to make it happen.
Christmas isn’t about opening a gift. Christmas is about realizing that you are a gift to the world. It is about the realization that everyday can be Christmas. Everyday can be a celebration of kindness, of generosity and of compassion. But it begins with you. It begins with you putting in the work every day to make this world a better place.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.