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The Holiday Season is upon us again. Time for another holly, jolly Christmas, or whatever other celebratory shrine to consumption rings your bell. As a pagan who annually shares space with a Christmas tree, I can assure you that there is nothing about this time of year that naturally pushes me toward intellectual consistency. I readily buy too much, eat too much, and drink too much, all the while trying to fit in some time to at least think about those who have so much less than I do.

This year, there is more reason than ever to be worried about the underclass and vulnerable in America and those around the world who can buy so little, have so little to eat, and for whom finding clean drinking water is a challenge. I am constantly amazed at the individuals who rise above their own selfish interests to find a path to character by serving others. At the same time, I am dismayed that our collective efforts to do the same leave so much undone.

We hear endless blather in America about our “democracy” and our “democratic institutions.” Yet in the very past year, our democracy has inaugurated a dangerous fool as its titular head of state, and every day has brought new assaults on our democratic institutions. And while both our democracy and democratic institutions are said by some to be strong and resilient, they look to me to be weak and ineffectual.

The nation is awash in gun violence, millions are without the access to meaningful healthcare taken for granted in so much of the developed world, infrastructure is crumbling without any plan to address the problem, children go to bed homeless and hungry, inner city schools lack even the minimal resources to meet the fundamental educational needs of students, and entrenched racism and income inequality make a mockery of justice and fundamental fairness. If America’s democracy and its institutions are so strong, how is it that we can’t as a nation even do something as simple as ensuring that no child goes to bed hungry?

Unfortunately, it is not that America can’t – it is that America won’t. What passes for public discourse is so shallow that serious issues are easily overwhelmed by misrepresentation, hyperbole, and outright lies. The American exceptionalism folks routinely trot out their canned response about America being the “greatest nation on earth” and then mindlessly vote for a clown who promises to “make America great again.” Stop and think about that for a moment.

Since this is the Christmas Season, let’s check in and see how the Christians are doing. The Christian “family values” crowd is all atwitter about protecting children yet somehow can’t refrain from supporting a pedophile because he is a Republican pedophile. And for those of you who missed it, the Congressional Christian immoral majority hasn’t yet found the time to extend the Federal funding that provides access to meaningful healthcare to nine million of the nation’s most vulnerable children.** Stop and think about that for a moment while you piously drop a dollar in that Salvation Army red pot.

But perhaps most worthy of reflection this Holiday Season are the bigger picture items that truly separate the haves from the have nots in “the greatest nation on earth.” We have an elected government cabal corrupted by greed that is willingly undermining the very government it was elected to lead. That same venal cabal is working day and night to cut taxes for themselves while celebrating their love for the common man. The end result will further undermine the capacity of the American government to maintain the programs upon which so many in America rely for their sustenance.

And then, just to make sure that the message is clear, there is a continued effort to remove millions of real people in America from access to meaningful healthcare. This is glibly explained away by some twisted logic that puts human lives at the mercy of the trickle down crumbs that flow from the cabal’s gated communities and country clubs. And remember, many of these same folks remind us all the time that they are “pro-life.” Whose life?

So this Holiday Season people of conscience must push back. If Trump and his acolytes are allowed to reflect the will of the American people, the rest of us should be ashamed. Outrage has to fuel something or it consumes itself. Massive resistance is a good place to start, but not everyone is up to that task.

But everyone of conscience can take some bit of time this Holiday Season to learn what is happening to this country and then try to help others to learn. If outrage is my fuel, ignorance fuels the opposition. Ignorance can only be overcome by information. So for many of you, learn and then teach, even if the effort is uncomfortable and ignorance is your neighbor.

Under any circumstances, those who cannot resist and for some reason are afraid to confront ignorance, use this Holiday Season to make a statement the one way that everyone with a conscience can do so. Give something of yourself to other human beings that is significant enough to you for others to understand that you care about them.

Giving of oneself can reflect who each of us is as a person and will allow each of us to personally confront the “democratic” rot that has overtaken America. In the end, it is not “our democracy” that needs defending, it is our decency.

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