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Celebration

It is more important than ever to believe — as the story of Jesus' life tells us — that each individual is important and that sacrifice for others is a towering virtue. This is a truth that, at the core, all major religions teach.

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Name an area of this planet where there is not organized violence and violence of the worst kind: against children, and indeed anyone who happens to be in the way of a randomly exploded bomb. In our own country think of the bitter division between red and blue states or the people dying of AIDS.

I wrote of this dilemma several years ago, and since then, our problems have not diminished — indeed they seem to have multiplied. Not only man-made violence is threatening us. We are still worried about our defenselessness against the storms that sweep through with little notice, against the global warming that seems to be accelerating.

What to do? Christmas is a holiday of hope. Forget the materialism, the silly decorations, and remember what it is about. To believe in the message it sends is not to be unrealistic. It is more important than ever to believe — as the story of Jesus' life tells us — that each individual is important and that sacrifice for others is a towering virtue. This is a truth that, at the core, all major religions teach.

So while we celebrate and gather with our families as we listen to the magnificent holiday music, let's not permit the troubles of the world to disguise this central truth. And let's do what we can for those who have little to celebrate. Our tiny gift may not change the world but may keep someone from being hungry or ill.

Meanwhile, here are two stanzas of "The Magi," a poem by my brother, George Garrett, from the book titled "Days of Our Lives Lie in Fragments":



"Now that was a long time ago.

And now I know them for what they were,

moving across vague spaces on their camels,

visionaries, madmen, poor creatures possessed

by some slight deviation of the stars.

I know their gifts were shabby and symbolic.

Their wisdom was a thing of waking dreams.

Their robes were dirty and their breath was bad.



Still, I would dream them back.

Let them be wooden and absurd again

in all the painted glory that a child

loved. Let me be one of them.

Let me step forward once more awkwardly

and stammer and choke on my prepared speech.

I will bring gold again and kneel

foolish and adoring in the dungy straw."



Happy Holidays. S



Rozanne Epps is copy chief of Style Weekly and editor of the Back Page. Contact her at 358-0825, ext. 322, or by e-mail at rozanne.epps@styleweekly.com. Poem reprinted with permission of the author.



Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.


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