As many People pause to have fun the Christmas vacation this weekend, it’s tempting to want for a momentary pause in our public lifetime of ceaseless battle. Between a president who has refused to just accept the fact of his defeat and a complete subculture that has made denying science a tradition battle within the midst of a worldwide pandemic, an unimaginable quantity of power has been invested in division this yr. Whereas it might really feel good to romanticize the spirit of the season and need everybody a “Merry Christmas”, it will be extra devoted to each the unique Christmas story and our current circumstances to want each other a “Mourning Christmas”.
Two thousand years in the past, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, inequality was rampant. Consumer state rulers like King Herod in Judea used their energy to build up wealth from poor topics. Jesus, the son of God, was born to a poor household who couldn’t discover a room to hire in Bethlehem. His delivery was not celebrated by the rich or the politically highly effective, however by migrant farm employees and international spiritual minorities. The motion of hope and new life that Jesus got here to inaugurate was attacked by a paranoid and narcissistic ruler who was prepared to kill harmless kids in a determined try and cling to energy. The primary Christmas was not merry and vibrant, however a mournful sight.
It might be a rejection of that story in our current season to show away from the ache and struggling that we’ve witnessed all through 2020. Greater than 300,000 People have died from Covid-19, a illness which has unfold via the fissures in our society, revealing the inequalities that have been already rampant. One in 1,000 African People have died from the virus, and poor persons are thrice as seemingly as their larger revenue neighbors to contract the illness. 9 months after the primary financial affect of the pandemic, the US economic system nonetheless has 10m fewer jobs than it did in February. These misplaced jobs are nearly all low-income service jobs, leaving probably the most susceptible unemployed because the richest amongst us proceed to look at their earnings soar.
When People who couldn’t deny these realities took to the streets this previous summer season after the general public lynching of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the world witnessed a historic rebellion for racial justice. Just like the motion that was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years in the past, this racial justice motion’s hope was rooted in public mourning. “A voice is heard in Ramah,” the Scriptures document, “refusing to be consoled.” The cry of public mourning was the unique Christmas greeting, and it has been the trustworthy response of tens of thousands and thousands of People to 2020. As WEB DuBois wrote over a century in the past, “By all of the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope – a religion within the final justice of issues.”
However, like King Herod earlier than them, President Trump and his enablers within the US Congress haven’t solely refused to acknowledge a motion rooted in mourning; they’ve tried to stamp it out. Trump has signed govt orders to attempt to preserve federal companies from addressing systemic racism, deployed federal regulation enforcement to criminalize protestors and immigrants, pursued document federal executions within the fashionable period, threatened the norms of democracy by denying the need of American voters, and facilitated pointless deaths by undermining public well being officers. Mitch McConnell has gone together with all of this, refusing to take up a Covid reduction invoice for months as thousands and thousands of People confronted starvation and eviction. Somewhat than mourn our unprecedented lack of this yr, Trump and his enablers have insisted upon a triumphalism centered on his narrowing shelf of imagined victories. Their “Merry Christmas” is shouted just like the “Bah! Humbug!” of Scrooge to drown out the struggling their actions have compounded.
In a second like this, I can solely want America a “Mourning Christmas”. If we’re smart, we is not going to collect with folks outdoors our households to sing Pleasure to the World. We’ll, as an alternative, mild a candle at residence for the family members who’re not with us this yr. We’ll keep in mind our neighbors and buddies who’ve skilled nice loss, a lot of whom are nonetheless risking their lives as important employees. We’ll cry out with those that, just like the Christ little one, haven’t any place to put their head. If we’re devoted to the story of the one whose mild “shines within the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”, we are going to cry till our tears circulate collectively right into a river of justice that rolls down like mighty waters and an ever-flowing stream. And in that stream of justice and love and mercy, we are going to decide to work collectively for a greater world in 2021 and a Christmas after we can really sing of peace on Earth and good will towards all folks.