The past few weeks in my Geography class, I've been teaching about Africa. One of the things we studied was just how massively large the continent is, but with that size comes massive problems from droughts, health problems, ecological disasters, wars and famine. We looked in detail at the genocide in Darfur and the 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia. Tears flowed in class, I can tell you that.
I've been reading several friends' and family members' comments on Facebook and blogs about trying to get in the Christmas spirit. I don't know if I would call what I've been feeling this past week "Christmas spirit" but it has certainly been an attitude of gratitude. We are so blessed in this country to have peace, shelter, food, clean water, and the comforts of home and family. We don't have to worry about whether our children will survive the night because they've had no food. We don't have to flee to a neighboring nation to escape rockets and roving bands of rebels intent on killing us. We don't have to work in the field gathering cash crops that will only make us poorer while enriching our corrupt leaders. We have so much to be thankful for - that should be enough to get us in the Christmas spirit.
So I challenge you to learn about what is going on in Darfur. (Learn more here.) I challenge you to remind yourself of the famines that killed hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia. (Learn more here.) I challenge you to learn about the health issues that still result in the deaths of 22,000 children under the age of 5 world-wide EVERY DAY. (Learn more here.)
Then I think you will feel a bit better about your own life and the Christmas spirit will come a little more easily, if also more humbly.
Of course, you can also watch this video from the 80s, a fund-raising response to the famine in Ethiopia, to get a little cheer, too.