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Goodwill towards All Men as the Spirit of Christmas

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Message Arshad M Khan

If the enduring message of Christmas is of goodwill to all men, then the case for extending this spirit year round is irrefutable.

There is a true story from WWI when British and German soldiers began singing Christmas carols and were soon out of their trenches greeting each other in an impromptu truce. They shared provisions and sang together. The truce spread along the trenches until officers put an end to it in the early hours. How do you shoot a man when you have goodwill towards him?

Such an infection could spread quickly and stymie interests intent on preserving markets or whatever else they want and portraying the other side as evil, set on taking bread from the mouths of our children and worse ... all that left to the imagination of professional propagandists -- like Vince Packard's hidden persuaders though he was targeting the professional marketeers of the advertising world.

Goodwill to all men would mean nations would try to understand each other and settle for mediation in an international forum like the International Court of Justice. War, then, would become unnecessary. It also means disputes between individuals who bear goodwill would be settled most likely without litigation -- tough on lawyers though they might make excellent mediators.

Suspicion leads to mistrust but a heart filled with goodwill is unlikely to deceive. Keeping in mind that deception as a way to advantage is deeply ingrained, the fact remains it is difficult to deceive someone for whom a person bears goodwill. Mistrust and suspicion will eventually be replaced by trust and understanding making it an easier world to live in for everyone.

Have you noticed how people are nicer to each other during the Christmas season. It must be ingrained in people from early childhood years as a time of joy. But things can change rapidly post-Christmas. The English are generally well-mannered and courteous. Not in this little vignette:

I was holding a Sea Island cotton shirt (very soft with the feel of silk) marked down at a New Year's sale at Simpsons of Piccadilly but still expensive for a student of limited means. While I was thinking about it, a well-dressed old lady made up my mind for me: she snatched it out of my hand and disappeared down the aisles. Although I still remember the incident, Simpsons is long gone now, and so probably is the old lady. One hopes they won't hold it against her in the next world that any rational person would want to exist no matter how unlikely its probability.

So there we are folks, goodwill to all men, and especially to the women who sustain us and without whose efforts there wouldn't be much of a Christmas. Goodwill to all and may the spirit of Christmas reside with everyone throughout the year.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
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