I am not a biblical scholar and would never pretend to know the Bible beyond a few verses that I particularly like and, of course, beyond my meager understanding of the message. But I am going to dare to quote something here, and change a word to fit our times.
“Peace on earth to those of good will.”
Now, this is translated in differing ways but this is the translation I’m going with today. I first noticed the distinction between this and “Peace on earth and goodwill to all” years ago when I foolishly agreed to read a passage at a service. The very specific nature of the actual wording ‘to those of good will’ struck me. This isn’t a platitude, it’s a challenge.
In order to have peace on earth, it must be made, created, struggled for. It is something that happens when we DO something, FEEL something, ACT on something, it’s what comes when we develop good will to others, to our world, and to our mutual goals.
It isn’t a gift or a given.
Something is required of us.
And you see it don’t you. When people wear masks, their eyes show their intent on keeping people, their neighbours, and their community safe. Contrast this with those who are fighting and spitting and swearing and disrupting and ignoring the reasonable request to wear one. These are not those of good will, and that is not peace.
And you see it don’t you. When people stay at home, just with those with whom they share a household. When people zoom call to connect without contagion. When people actively work to flatten the curve. Contrast with those who party in large number and then justify, justify, justify, by talking about my rights and my home and no goverment will tell me … ignoring that the government didn’t tell them, science did.
And you will see it tonight. There will be those who hunker in and hunker down and pop champagne in a room that will not roar a cheer in response. There will be those of good will, taking care of business quietly. But then again they are contrasted by the strident, angry, statements about covid only killing the weak, not the strong, so who cares. Well, maybe the weak.
So happy new year to those of good will, if there are enough of us, maybe it will be happy. But I fear those who aren’t of good will, not even that, those who are actively of ill will.
I type this alone in my room.
I type this joining in with the good will of others.
Simply because I wish for peace.