A Christmas To-Do List for a Better World
By John W. Whitehead
A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.—John Lennon
A recent advertising circular from one of the major retailers in the country invited kids to put together a wish list of things they want for Christmas. There were toys galore, board games, bikes, video games, action figures—the kinds of things I wished for as a child. Although I haven’t made out a Christmas list in a long time, there are still things I wish for. But these things cannot be bought in any store or wrapped and placed under the tree.
The idealist in me wishes for peace and an end to poverty, hunger and disease. I also wish for a better world for my children, their children, all the world’s children to grow up in. However, the realist in me recognizes that wishing is not enough. We need to be doing. The following five suggestions might help you consider what needs to be added to your own list this Christmas.
Increase education and schooling. Education is so vital because with it comes both knowledge and a sense of understanding that is necessary in today’s world of miscommunication and misunderstanding. We don’t need an education in the three R’s but in how to work together to solve the problems we face as a world community. If people around the world truly understood each other, they would be less likely to falsely judge one another. And, as a result, many of the problems we currently face could be eliminated. A well-balanced education for all people would not only help fight issues such as hunger, poverty, AIDS and pollution, it would also enable us to curb the hatred and animosity that have spurred global terrorism over the past few decades. In order for this to be a reality, America will have to lead the way.
Eradicate the concept of “us” versus “them” and focus more on the fact that we share many similarities as members of the human race. The root of much of the recent terrorist activity (and expansion of presidential power in the United States) is the idea that “we” (the pure and good) must wage a war of morality against “them” (the dangerous and evil). This rhetoric has been used by various leaders as a propaganda tool to justify further violence and destruction. It is easy to label an entire group of people as “the other,” focusing on one’s differences and thus distancing oneself from the fact that, at the end of the day, “the other” are human beings as well. By eliminating this divisive rhetoric and ideology, we could move toward strengthening the global community and the ties that ultimately hold it together.
Improve the treatment of women. While American women enjoy a status of legal equality with their male counterparts, women in other countries (particularly those in the Middle East) are denied the very rights they should be granted as human beings. For example, just last month, a Saudi Arabian woman was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes, despite being gang-raped by seven men who had kidnapped her. Incredibly, the judge sentenced her for being in a car with a man who was not her relative, a taboo in this misogynistic desert kingdom. The list of examples of the ill-treatment of women around the world is endless. By fighting for the rights of women, we can make the world a better place for the generations of children who will follow. Of course, this means that the president and Congress will have to take a stand against the ill-treatment of women by our so-called allies such as Saudi Arabia.
End world hunger. Approximately 854 million people around the world are chronically undernourished and thoroughly incapable of obtaining sufficient sustenance. In addition, nearly 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day—a fact that translates into one child perishing from hunger every five seconds. While the average individual may feel overwhelmed by the extent of world hunger, much can be done to make a difference, regardless of how small the efforts may be. The starting point is realizing that we have to place the interests of others before ourselves. In this respect, donating funds and time to trustworthy organizations is one way to make a difference. Also, raising global awareness regarding the subject is critical in the battle against world hunger. It is only when individuals are aware of the true extent and nature of the problem at hand that they will be adequately equipped with the knowledge and passion it takes to make a difference.
A world without war. The Iraq war has both economically and emotionally drained America. In fact, so far the war has cost the American taxpayers over $472 billion. Just think how many people could be fed with even a small percentage of this money. And unfortunately, much of the world now views America as a warring empire. It’s time for America to show the world a different way—a time for peace and understanding. Indeed, it is only through true understanding that we will be able to make well-informed, rational decisions that ultimately affect the lives of human beings around the world. Otherwise, we will continue to face an uncertain and chaotic future.
Thus, it is up to us to make a better world. As the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a Christmas Eve sermon in 1967:
The Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power. Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. We must either learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at ( http://www.rutherford.org ).