The shock of the 2016 election result endures, and many of us who dread what 2017 will bring find it hard to muster up much holiday spirit.
We already know the incoming President’s staff and cabinet secretaries are alarmingly racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti-Semitic, and self-interested, and many have no experience or evident interest in public service.
Health research, womens’ health, gender equality, retirement security, food safety, an autonomous press, protection from hate crimes, workplace safety, diversity, education, equal pay, veterans’ benefits, clean water, a stable Europe, due process, a global environment capable of supporting human life -- whatever you care about, whatever makes you feel safe, secure, and dignified, is threatened. Not just conceptually or rhetorically, but directly and immediately.
With all this looming, the season’s emphasis on consumerism might seem inappropriate and frivolous (as much as you love to give and receive gifts) or just plain hard to think about.
If you happen to celebrate Hanukkah, now is good time to remind yourself that the story of Hanukkah is not the story of gifts. It's the story of a battle, of fighters persevering and surviving in the face of long odds.
And here we are again, facing overwhelming forces: a President, Senate, House of Representatives, and even a Supreme Court poised to attack our fundamental rights.
So this year, we have a suggestion: Forget giving and receiving presents.
Instead, direct the time, money and energy you would spend on buying and exchanging consumer goods to supporting organizations and candidates who reject fear and misunderstanding and pursue compassion and altruism. (We think your loved ones will understand, but here’s a note you can send, or read, or point them to if you need it.)
Hanukkah is as good a time as any to get started, so let’s make contributions on all eight days.
We realize that holiday traditions and family events involve exchanging gifts, but there’s no more important gift to give this year than securing the immediate future for the people you love.