I find myself listening to albums from my CD collection, mostly ‘60s and ‘70s rock and lots of classical, having tired of “seasonal music.” I have also taken to the airways for hip hop and jazz to round out the play list. My music observations should come as no surprise.
Today’s Christmas music has little to do with Christmas, the birth of Joshua the Anointed, son of Joseph and Mary, or the true spirit of the winter solstice holidays. They mostly deal with Santa Claus, wishing for and receiving presents, lovers and families lost and found, and the myth of a live snowman. And we sing along like a Pavlov experiment. We have lost the true meaning of the holidays, the celebration of the rebirth of the planet as understood by those living in the northern hemisphere. The yule log and the lights of the Christmas tree are symbols of the re-awakening from the cold, dark and harsh winter, of hope, life and peace.
If this is a time to celebrate peace, modern minstrels have fallen short, for there are few new songs of peace. Songs such as John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” are Christmas songs of peace. The words are powerful, resonating with the truth about why we fight wars, recognizing that we can, if we want, stop the battles.
“Silent Night” is on my short list of true and meaningful Christmas music. It is about life, peace and the rekindling of pure and holy light. It is about the redemption of the inhabitants of this planet and how we can do better. It is true in spirit and in grace, simple and direct in message. Yet most do not know all three verses. Find them and sing them ... silently.
What makes this song so important is the power of the music to stop the fighting, the killing, if only for a few hours. It happened twice, once during World War I on the battlefields of Flanders and again during World War IIat the Battle of the Bulge. In both cases, battling troops stopped shooting at each other and started singing this wonderful hymn. War, at least temporarily, was replaced by peace. “Silent Night” became a song of life, of protest against the evils of war.
I am amazed that the arguments against modern music, video games and entertainment have not changed in 60 years. I remember my mother having a neighborhood meeting in our home, introducing school board candidates. One of the speakers was a member of the extreme right wing John Birch Society. Part of his platform was to ban much of the music of the day, targeting Arlo Guthrie; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Bob Dylan; Donovan; and many, many others. Mostly music of peace we cherish and sing with joy today.
Contemporary music deals with love found, lost and mislaid, about sex, drugs and violence, as it has for generations. What are missing are songs of peace, of protest to war. I think it might have something to do with the threat of retaliation by media, the government and those who believe they are being scorned by “Them.” Do we believe that to preserve the freedoms we cherish in this nation, protesters, especially those that disagree with the ruling party, must be silenced? Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.” Do you feel more secure today than you did in December 2000? I certainly do not. Maybe Walter Kelly’s Pogo was right – “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
“Imagine” is considered one the greatest songs of the 20th century. Maybe, like “Silent Night,” it will one day stop the killing, even for a little while. “Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
May you have a peace-filled winter holiday season.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.