Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

The wonder of the holidays

Credit: ISTOCK

The magic of the holiday season is a powerful potion. It creeps up on us as December unfurls until we find ourselves inexplicably filled with charity and hope. And it stirs within us the yearnings we feel especially at this time of year for some of humankind's eternal ideals, like peace on earth.

But it can be hard to see one's way to that. Some 70 million people around the world are refugees, driven out of their homelands, mostly by conflict. Violence rages across the Mideast, in several countries in Africa, and in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Democracy seems to be on the wane, as authoritarian figures consolidate power and ride roughshod on human and civil liberties. Climate change is on the rise, leaving no corner of Earth untouched, pitting vulnerable nations against more powerful polluters. Veterans sent to fight overseas return home, struggling and suffering from that experience. Homeless populations grow in our cities and suburbs. Our politics provides no respite, and only grows fiercer by the day.  

Turning a blind eye to all that is difficult at any time of year, much less a season that seeks to inspire goodwill among all mankind. But merely wishing for our better angels to emerge and soothe our troubles seems like foolish folly.

And yet, we all know there is so much goodness in this world. We've seen it. We've felt it. We've dispensed it. We've received it. We know firsthand how wonderful this world can be.

So did Louis Armstrong. In his iconic masterpiece, now 52 years old, New York's adopted son saw all around him the signs of what a wonderful world this can be. He saw it in the trees of green, the skies of blue, the clouds of white, and red roses, too. He saw it in the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night, and the colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky. Each of us implicitly understands that. Nature long has been our solace and our refuge.

But Armstrong also saw that sense of wonder in the faces of the people going by. In the way friends shake hands and ask, how do you do. In the way they really are saying, I love you. And he saw it, most poignantly, in the babies who would grow to inherit this world, and who will learn much more than we'll ever know.

Armstrong knew that the magic of mankind, the wonder and peace we seek for the world, begins within ourselves. Only when we can feel that, and summon that, can we build the better world in which we all yearn to live.

This holiday season, may each of us find peace within ourselves, and from that, peace on our Earth.

— The editorial board