The Greatest Gift For All


PCR 12-17-01 CS Christmas

Christmas is a time of traditions.
If you have found time in the rush before Christmas to
decorate a tree, you are sharing in a relatively new
tradition. Although the Christmas tree has ancient
roots, at the beginning of the 20th century only 1 in 5
American families put up a tree. It was 1920 before the
Christmas tree became the hallmark of the season.

Calvin Coolidge
was the first President to light a

national Christmas tree
on the White House lawn.

Gifts are another shared custom.
This tradition comes from the wise men or

three kings
who brought gifts to baby Jesus. When I
was a kid, gifts were

more modest
than they are now, but even then people
were complaining about the commercialization of
Christmas. We have grown accustomed to the
commercialization. Christmas sales are the backbone of
many businesses. Gift giving causes us to remember
others and to take time from our harried lives to give
them thought.

The decorations and gifts of
Christmas are one of our connections to a Christian
culture that has held Western civilization together for
2,000 years.

In our culture the

individual
counts. This permits an individual person
to put his or her foot down, to take a

stand on principle
, to become a

reformer
and to take on
injustice.

This empowerment of the individual
is unique to Western civilization. It has made the
individual a citizen equal in rights to all other
citizens, protected from tyrannical government by the
rule of law and free speech. These achievements are the
products of centuries of struggle, but they all flow
from the teaching that God so values the individual`s
soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so
elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice.

Formerly only those with

power had a voice
. But in Western civilization
people with integrity have a voice. So do people with a
sense of justice, of honor, of duty, of fair play.
Reformers can reform, investors can invest, and
entrepreneurs can create commercial enterprises, new
products and new occupations.

The result was a land of
opportunity. The United States attracted

immigrants who shared our values
and reflected them
in their own lives. Our culture was absorbed by a
diverse people who became one.

In recent decades we have begun
losing sight of the historic achievement that empowered
the individual. The religious, legal and political roots
of this great achievement are no longer reverently
taught in high schools, colleges and universities. The
voices that reach us through the millennia and connect
us to our culture are being silenced by "political
correctness." Prayer has been driven from schools and
religious symbols from public life. Georgetown
University, a

Jesuit
institution, is too fearful of offending
diversity to

display the crucifix.

There is plenty of room for
cultural diversity in the world, but not within a single
country. A Tower of Babel has no culture. A person
cannot be a Christian one day, a pagan the next and a
Muslim the day after. A hodgepodge of cultural and
religious values provides no basis for law—except the
raw power of the pre-Christian past.

All Americans have a huge stake in
Christianity. Whether or not we are individually
believers in Christ, we are beneficiaries of the moral
doctrine that has curbed power and protected the weak.
Power is the horse ridden by evil. In the 20th century
the horse was ridden hard. One hundred million people
were exterminated by National Socialists in

Germany
and by

Soviet
and

Chinese
communists simply because they were members
of a race or class that had been demonized by
intellectuals and political authority.

Power that is secularized and cut
free of civilizing traditions is not limited by moral
and religious scruples. V.I. Lenin made this clear when
he defined the meaning of his

dictatorship
as "unlimited power, resting directly
on force, not limited by anything."

Christianity`s emphasis on the
worth of the individual makes such power as Lenin
claimed unthinkable. Be we religious or be we not, our
celebration of Christ`s birthday celebrates a religion
that made us masters of our souls and of our political
life on Earth.

Such a
religion as this is worth holding on to even by
atheists.

Paul
Craig Roberts is the author (with Lawrence M. Stratton)
of The
New Color
Line : How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy

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