Gift a real gift — respect

Christmas came very early this year. The advertising started in late September. This is understandable, because the economy needs a lot of help. Most businesses are suffering financially, and many people have lost their jobs. And for many others, clouds of doubt and fear hang over their prospects in the coming year.

We all need an economic boost. Unfortunately, the competition for scarce jobs often seems to pit person against person, group against group, fanning the smoldering embers of ill-will toward others. When the financial pressure is on, it’s especially hard to hold on to the values that help us to see one another as brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors who share a common community and a common good. Yet, ironically, at least when it comes to the economy, it’s very clear that we’re all in this life, and this world, together.

One might wish that the higher moral and spiritual message of Christmas also would have started early, too. The message, “Peace on Earth” is much more than a greeting card cliché. This season gives us an opportunity to pause and remember our highest and best values. We can realize that war, anger, prejudice, and hatred should not be accepted as our way of life because we are all children of the One Creator. There is much more to gain when we try hard to help one another.

It’s good to give material gifts. We love to offer the special people in our lives these signs of our feelings for them, these symbols of their importance to us. But in the midst of the commercial hustle and bustle, let’s also give one another the best gifts of all — respect, compassion, empathy, love, and good will.

In this Christmas season, you may see your friends and neighbors from Bay Ridge Peace Action and The Interfaith Coalition for Peace out and about in the community, bringing this message of peace, unity, and our “higher” values. You may see us on the avenues urging that we not overlook the hope and love that are the heart and soul of Christmas. If you do, stop and talk a while, and let’s all offer each other the very best of our “higher nature.”

Bob Emerick is a member of the Bay Ridge Peace Action and the Interfaith Coalition for Peace, which will meet on Dec. 14 at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (Fourth Avenue at Bay Ridge Parkway in Bay Ridge). For info, e-mail [email protected].