The True Meaning of Chrismas

 SOPHIA - 21

(Synopsis:  As Christmas approaches we face the constant issue of how to teach a child the difference between materialism and spiritualism.    In this story, Sarah wants to know who is in charge of Christmas--Santa or Jesus?    G-Ma faces some big challenges trying to tell her, only to find out that Sarah knows the truest meaning of Christmas.   Enjoy this wonderful story about how children teach adults--the meaning of Christmas.)

          The True Meaning of Christmas   
                                                         G-Ma Lori

      “G-Ma, I know, I know, Christmas is the day Santa was born. It’s Santa’s birthday.” My four-year-old granddaughter’s reply shattered my calmness as quickly as a precious Christmas ornament shattering on a tile floor.
      “Oh, Sarah, Christmas is the day we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, not Santa’s birthday. Remember, Jesus’ Mommy Mary?…. and Daddy Joseph? They were so very tired and there was no room for them to go inside to rest. So Jesus was born in a stable among the sheep and cows.”  I tried not to sound too disappointed my four-year-old granddaughter had totally blown the question of the day.

       “Oh, yes, G-Ma, I ‘member. I know that. But, when is Santa’s birthday then? Is it the next day? Or is it before Jesus’?” Sarah, known for her theatrics, thrust her mittened hand out of the cozy blue blanket wrapped around her as I pushed her in her ‘special’ stroller to school. The wriggling hand movement was our special signal she wanted me to stop the stroller so I could give rapt attention to what she was planning to say of grave import. Only this
time it was my turn to be the one to offer great wisdoms. And, I was well armed.
      I crouched next to her with one hand still firmly grasping the bright blue duct-taped stroller handles. (Sarah’s G-Pa had lengthened the stroller so it would better fit his 6- feet four-inch height). I didn’t want to tempt any over anxious
child-nabber to scoot away with my precious granddaughter. (I think I have seen too many of the new “Missing” TV. shows all about how the FBI chases down kidnappers).
      “Sarah, I learned that Santa Claus celebrates his birthday on December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas. We believe St. Nicholas or Kris Kringle is Santa Claus. There are many different names for Santa Claus in other countries. Do you remember the story of St. Nicholas? Your Daddy Joe bought you and Matt a book all about him and

Names for Santa Claus

Australia - - - - - - - Santa Claus 
British Isles - - - -  Father Christmas 
China - - - - - - - -  Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) 
Czechoslovakia - - - - Svaty Mikalas 
Denmark - - - - - - - Julemanden 
France - - - - - - - - Pere Noel or le petit Jsus 
Germany - - - - - - -  Saint Nicholas or Weihnachtsmann 
Greece - - - - - - - - Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus 
Iceland - - - - - - -  Jolasveinar. (13 of them) Stekkjarstaur, Giljagaur, Stufur, Thvorusleikir, Pottaskefill, Askasleikir, Hurdarskellir, Skyrgamur, Bjugnakraekir  Gluggagaegir, Gattathefur, Ketkrokur and Kertasnikir. 
Italy - - - - - - - - Babbo Natale 
Japan - - - - - - - - Hoteiosho 
Mexico - - - - - - -  Nino Jesus

Netherlands - - - - - Sinterklaas 
Norway - - - - - - - -Julebukk

Russia - - - - - - - -Saint Nicholas 
Scandinavia - - - - - Julenisse 
Spain - - - - - - - - Balthazar 
Sweden - - - - - - - -Tomte 
Wales - - - - - - - - Mari Ilwyd 
United States - - - - Santa Claus

      “G-Ma, I know. We have that book, but tell me again who St. Nick-las is…..pull-eeze.”We were ahead of our “get-to-school-on-time” schedule so I pulled the one of a kind stroller over to the side of the sidewalk and sat down on one of the stoops close to Sarah’s school. I decided a mini version of the story of Saint Nick was in order.
      Sarah relaxed and fastidiously pulled her thermal blanket up around her ever so slightly dimpled chin. I had learned from her father the Irish believe a chin like hers is one kissed by an angel. Matt, her six –year-old brother, has a definite dimple and was told he was extra special because his dimple was where God pointed at him and
actually touched him. No chin indentation was evident on Baby Angus, almost 6 months old, but he was tickled by God on his cheek instead and sported a “see it when I grin” dimple. He grins a lot.
      As I tenderly tucked several wisps of Sarah’s wild fly-a-way tresses into her bright pink Hello Kitty hat, I began the tale of St. Nicolas and returned my arm to its wondrous place around my little princess’ shoulders.

Saint Nicholas helping the poor

     “Nicholas was a very holy man in Russia who loved children. He performed good deeds and often helped the poor by tossing gold coins down their chimneys. He became a Bishop in our church and wanted to help children and to bring the love of the baby Jesus to all those who celebrate His birth. I was told that his love for Jesus and children was so great that Jesus allowed him to continue to bring gifts to children all over the world every year. Eventually we believed he had so much work to do and so many children to visit he needed the help of the elves. So, he opened his workshop.”
      “G-Ma, I do ‘member St. Nick-las! His birthday is before Christmas then, December… what day, G-Ma?” Sophia treated answers to her questions like a little tenacious bulldog. She crunched her teeth into them and hung fast for the answer no matter how many curves or detours I might take trying to avoid a direct answer—especially one I
didn’t know for absolute sure. I, however, did know this one for sure.
      “December 6th, little one, the same day as my mommy’s, your great-grandmother Gaga’s birthday.”
     “Oh, yes, GaGa’s up in heaven with dead Mary and Jesus. Jesus had the angels bring her up there, right G-Ma”?
      I didn’t want to complicate my hopefully simple story of Santa Claus and I nodded my head and continued. (My 88-year-old mother passed away on September 18th of this year). “Yes, dear one, and you are an angel, too, to remember she is up in heaven. GaGa used to leave her shoes out on December 6th when she was little so St. Nicholas could fill them with candy. December 25th was decided on as Christmas for several reasons.

Santa Claus, relaxed and ready

       For a long time many people thought Jesus was also born on January 6. Those not believing in Jesus celebrated the birthday of the sun on December 25, and on that day they lit lights. Christians too participated and the church teachers saw Christians enjoyed the festival, and decided that the true birth-feast be celebrated on this day. And so, after awhile the two days of giving, St. Nicholas’ Birthday and Christmas turned into one day. There are still some children who celebrate both days”.

       I thought the reference to the different dates was complicating my story again and started to get up to continue our school bound trek. I didn’t want Sarah to be late for preschool, and honestly didn’t want to confuse her with dates about such an important subject as whose birthday came first, Santa’s or Jesus’. However, bulldog Sarah zoned in on the word “gifts” and grabbed my hand to detain me.
      “But, G-Ma, Jesus received gifts at Christmas. He got gold and stuff from the three kings. So, it’s all right that we get gifts too, right”?

          Ooops, I thought, there goes my credibility. I was trapped. Sarah had my back against the wall. My logic for why Christmas is celebrated on December 25 became a snowflake caught in the shaft of the warm rays of the sun.
Christmas presents had become a sore subject around Sarah’s house. Her mom and dad had asked the family members—brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.—for presents to be kept at a minimal level. The innuendo was there was “far too much commercialism,” and the kids were beginning to see Christmas as a Toys ‘R Us
dump truck backing into their living room brimmed with presents far beyond their ability to be consumed and appreciated equally.
      Sarah’s parents asked for any extra funds to be sent to a special charity in a developing nation, and that “family gifts” such a tickets to the Lion King be considered rather than a cornucopia of gifts to which the children were becoming so accustomed. My vigilant daughter and her husband were hoping for the “Less is More” Christmas
list. Their goal was to help their children learn that Christmas wasn’t merely a time to receive presents but also a time to give.
       However, little Sarah obviously thought Santa should have been consulted, for the fewer the gifts, the less important Santa as a gift-giver became, and, obviously, the fewer the number of gifts Sarah and her brothers
would receive. Children think in very simple economics—the more gifts the merrier.
      I sat back down on the hard and cold step and took Sarah’s little hand in mine. She and her six-year-old brother, Matt, were adept in adding two and two and coming up with the right solution in their favor.
      “Ah, my smart one, yes, the Three Kings, The Magi, did indeed bring gifts to baby  Jesus. The gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh. Melchior brought gold in a jeweled box to Jesus. Gold was a symbol or sign of royalty and power. You know how beautiful gold is?”

        “Yes, G-Ma. It’s special." I nodded. “And Gasper brought frankincense, an incense for the holy, like Jesus,
in a jeweled flask. The oil is like liquid gold, Sarah. It is associated with adoration, consecrated power, nobility and sacrifice. The third king, Balthazar, brought myrrh in a jeweled cup. Myrrh, is like a special tonic or medicine, and may be used to help keep us healthy. It is usually a present for the rich. Both frankincense and myrrh are supposed to help us be spiritually aware, that is, think more of Jesus.”

       “Well, G-Ma, I don’t want any of those presents and I don’t think Matt does either. Didn’t Jesus get any toys? Not even a train or a dinosaur”?
      “Not that we know of, little one. But, I think it’s okay to imagine Jesus played with toys. I don’t think He had a toy train or dinosaur. I know toy trains weren’t made at that time. But He probably had toys. Remember, His Daddy, Joseph, was a carpenter.”

        Sarah’s sweet smile returned as she nodded her Little Kitty-capped head. “I’m happy Baby Jesus got presents and had toys. Baby Angus will get presents from Santa…St. Nick comes to our house. Did you know, G-Ma, the Three Kings had to travel a long time to find Baby Jesus? And Santa has to travel all over the world. They all must be hard
workers, right G-Ma”?

The Magi, vigilant in their search

      “Right, sweet girl, hey, we must get a-walking. We don’t want Sister Lucy to be irritated because we are late. Wow, I just thought of something, Sarah. Angus will be 6 months old on Christmas.”
      I was in support of my daughter’s attempt to limit the gift-giving with three children living in their crowded one-bedroom New York City apartment. She was trying to teach them selflessness and at the same time, be practical in her approach. Both she and her husband had spent time doing service in promoting social justice in some of the third world countries. Everyone knew the people there would have great respect for any gift sent their way.

        I stood and re-arranged Sarah’s blanket around her. I picked up my pace as I pushed Sarah toward her Catholic-Montessori preschool. I didn’t want to have the nuns angry at me for delivering Sarah late.
      “ I think your mommy and daddy just don’t want you and Matt to get too excited about getting gifts from Santa and from Grampa Joe, Nana, G-Pa and me, plus from all your uncles and aunts. She is worried you wouldn’t think of the real meaning of Christmas. That’s it’s more about giving than getting presents.”
      “G-Ma, I know about Jesus and I know about Santa Claus and his other names. You told me. I know some kids don’t get Christmas gifts and we have to share ours. There is a special box at our school to bring in a present for them, and…. I know mommy wants peoples to give to the village in Guatemala. I know.”

Pointing out the True Meaning of the Holidays

       Matt, Sarah and now little Angus are fortunate to have compassionate parents who help out in a homeless shelter and assist in preparing and delivering food to the homeless on a regular basis. The kids regularly go with their parents to the shelter and are friendly with many of the other workers as well as many of the needy they serve.
      Sarah began to sing. Kids have a way of shifting from “A” to “Z” with such aplomb I was envious. Their minds are fertile fields, eager to sprout as much happiness as possible in the shortest period of time.
      As I listened to Sarah practice singing her religious Christmas song the rest of the way to school, (she was preparing for the school’s annual Christmas party where all the classes sing songs to the parents), I smiled thinking of her comments on “Peace to the World.” Once or twice a week, she and I took off our GMA and Granddaughter hats and became YaYa Sisters. We launched into serious discussions as though we were equals—just two girls talking, discussing, learning from one another. I was always impressed with her input as well as her patience with my questions and lesson-stories. A few weeks ago she touched my heart as only my sweet butterfly can. Again we were in the Union
Square area near 14th Street where Midtown and Lower Manhattan separate.
      “Sarah, during the Holidays we don’t just sing about Jesus, or Frosty the Snowman, or Rudolph or Jingle Bells. We wish “Peace to the World” and sing songs about peace as well. Do you know who is called the “Prince of Peace?”

Gandhi, "The Great Soul"

       “Well, G-Ma, it must be Gandhi. He doesn’t look like a prince but he is back in Union Square, so there must be peace in the world now. ‘Member when we couldn’t find him again. Then we did.” She laughed. “He was hiding in the middle of the gift booths? You said to me “Oh dear, Sarah, here we go again. Where’s Gandhi? Where’s Gandhi” and I said “let’s go look for him.” We did and we found him.”
      The Gandhi statue at Union Square had been removed almost a year before during a major renovation of Union Square. Sarah and I waited for his return as the construction stretched on and on. I was so touched when we finally saw him back in his “garden of peach” and recall Sarah’s strident Voice shouting “G-Ma, he’s back. He’s back.”
      No sooner did he appear but only to once again “disappear.” We lost him again a few days ago when the Christmas booths were assembled on the open space of the Square. It seemed a legion of Christmas vendors had made camp, Bedouins of Christmas Commercialism stacked red and white stripped tent next to red and white stripped tent so the whole Square was now a shopping center for seasonal ‘knick- knacks’, scarves, glassware, trinkets and other “quick gifts.”
      We played “detective” and Sarah soon located him stuffed in the middle of the shopping area, his spindly legs well hidden by a variety of tents hawking Holiday wares. It was ironic that simple profound Gandhi, was overshadowed by the sounds of Master Charge machines slamming receipts for wares, and vendors counting their money morning
noon and night. I’m sure he wouldn’t feel comfortable, but as usual, his “peaceful protestation” demeanor would not allow him to complain.
      Union square is a regular stop on Sarah’s and my way to her school. We drop off her six-year-old brother, Matt at his school and, weather permitting, walk with the stroller through Union Square. I push Sarah on the swing for a quick ten minutes before leaving to proceed to her school. It’s our private G-Ma/Granddaughter time. Lately, I’ve been giving her a little history lesson on the lives of the statues in the park. We’ve covered Abraham Lincoln and George Washington (Sarah often confuses George Washington’s name with George W. Bush whose picture is in her Catholic-Montessori classroom).

"His legs look like sticks"

        At present, we are ‘discussing’ Gandhi. Sarah’s comment re Gandhi was “His legs look like sticks”. At the time, I laughed. She always marvels at the garlands of flowers around his neck and says “G-Ma, peoples must love Gandhi so-o-o-o-o much to give him so many flowers all the time.”
      With the Christmas theme swirling about, Sarah used her fertile imagination to bring Gandhi into the Santa-Jesus conversation. “G-Ma, Gandhi is a great man. He is more important than Santa even. My mommy told me that. She goes to the bank across the street so we can come here to visit his statue. Mommy was so-o -o -o –o glad to see him back too.”

       I actually hadn’t known that much about Gandhi so I decided to look up some information. My daughter and her husband are firm believers and proponents of nonviolence. Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophies were used by Martin Luther King in the 1950’s and 60’s during the civil rights movements. Gandhi worked to remedy racial injustice in South Africa. During the Boer War he formed an ambulance service. He was called “The Great Soul.” He preached nonviolence but died violently (was shot by his
own countryman).
      I selected some of Gandhi’s words that I think best illustrate his love for peace, and have listed them below. I was glad Sarah knew who he was and that he was a symbol of a man of peace, just as are Santa and, even more so, Jesus.
      I deposited Sarah at school on time, but I know I haven’t answered her tough question—who is in charge of Christmas—Santa or Jesus? Now, she hasn’t asked that question directly, but I assume deep in her mind is the question who is the most important—the spiritual or the commercial, the idealism of peace or the milk and cookies
left for Santa so he won’t get angry and leave a lump of coal instead of the brightly wrapped gifts for being “such a good girl” all year.
      I leave our special stroller at Sarah’s school for my return to pick her up around 1:30.  In the time gap, I went home and searched the web, Google, for information that might help me answer any lingering questions Sarah has sharpened for me about Santa and Jesus.
      On our way back home from school the sun is shining and Sarah doesn’t request the blanket to keep warm. I’m waiting for her big question—a final confirmation about who’s the Big Gun at Christmas, Santa or Jesus. Instead, she throws me a curve ball.

Menorah illuminating the fresh fallen snow

    “G-Ma, look, there’s one of those candle things in our park!” Sarah was leaning forward in the stroller excitedly pointing at the recently erected Menorah. I talked to both Sarah and Matt about the fact that all people did not
celebrate Christmas as Christians did. I reminded them that Christians represent only one third of all the world’s religions, and many people have different beliefs—and that’s okay. I pointed out the nine-branched candle- holder was one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith.
      “G-Ma, that’s the Christmas tree for the peoples who don’t believe in Jesus, right?”
      “Well,” I corrected, “They don’t not believe in Jesus as a great person, Sarah. They just don’t believe He is the Son of God. They believe the Son of God is still to come, and that Jesus was kind of like Gandhi, a great person, but not the most important one in the whole world.
      “Oh,” Sarah said. “They’re waiting for their own Jesus?”
     “That’s right. “
      Sarah was surprisingly ecumenical at such an early age. She wasn’t upset hearing about other peoples’ beliefs and practices that differed from her own. My husband and I agreed it was the Religious Vigilance of her parents that allowed her to be respectful of all views.
      “That’s called the Menorah, little angel. Good job in recognizing it. Jewish families observe an eight-day, two-thousand-year-old holiday called Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. It is a very old ceremony and celebrates the victory of the Jews over their enemies, and is a symbol of the freedom Jews enjoy today. Their enemies – people who wished to hurt them—took over their temples, churches, and all their candles. The Jews were able to fight and defeat their enemy. The flames of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days and today the Jewish people light candles for eight days in a row and exchange gifts to celebrate.”
      The minute the word ‘gift’ was out of my mouth, I wanted to reel it back in and erase it from Sarah’s ears. I didn’t want to get back on the “gift track” where Santa and Jesus were wrestling for dominance over December 25. I was afraid that Santa might outweigh Jesus in a showdown with my four-year-old referee. My fears proved
groundless. Sarah proved she is her ‘mother’s daughter’ with her next set of questions.
      “G-Ma, but Gandhi brought peace to the world. So did Jesus. Why were the ‘Jewish’ and their enemies still fighting?”

      “Oh, my sweet love, ‘bad people’ wanted to hurt the Jews and took away their temples and churches…and their menorahs. The Jews were forced to fight to defeat their enemy. We are sad when our enemies die. We never want to fight or be in wars but some countries are forced into war. Countries fight to keep safe, to continue with their lives and not be afraid – to be free. The teachings of Gandhi and Jesus, as well as many others, help us to believe that we should always work hard to try to have peace in our world. We must try to talk over issues, not to fight, and…”     

     “Have cooperation, G-Ma I know. I’m so glad we aren’t at wars and don’t have people hurting us.” Sarah hopped out of the stroller and moved closer to better study the Menorah.
      “I’m happy the ‘Jewish’ have their lights back on. Hey, let’s swing, G-Ma”.
      As I took the hand of my innocent precious Christmas angel to guide her into the swing area, I thought of furthering our discussion to the immediate situation. War was imminently possible with Iraq. We would all do well, I thought, to listen to the words of Gandhi and Jesus, two Princes of Peace.  I thought of little girls like Sarah in far off lands, innocent children huddled in blown out holes in the ground, trying to not be victims of a battle. I decided war was far too heavy a conversation, and something better left for her parents to discuss.
      I decided my “partner, buddy, and pal” Sarah and I, would simply enjoy the rest of the day. But I was ready for Sarah if she prodded the issue of war, for it looked like the near future held a dark cloud over peace. I prayed the sun would shine.

       Sarah threw open the park gate and galloped over the sand toward the swings. Her Voice reverberated through the stillness. My Marine Corps Vietnam Vet husband would have described its shattering of the silence to the sound of a mortar shell detonating on the sand dunes against an Iraqi weapons bunker.
      “Girls Rule, G-Ma! Girls Rule!”
      As I pushed Sarah in the swing, I thought heavily about the issue of peace and war. I knew there was a great chance that this Christmas could be a bloody one if every “t” wasn’t crossed, or every “i” dotted by the Iraqis being hounded by the U.N. Weapons Inspectors. Rather than a White Christmas, this could be a Blood Red one. I realized every interaction a Parent of Vigilance has with his or her child can reflect peace—the kind both Gandhi and Jesus and other great icons of religion and non-violence have offered for centuries.
      There are many ways throughout each day that vigilant parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other caretakers can express to a child as a means of building up their defenses against the horrors of war that smolder on the horizon.
Sarah and Matt (and I’m sure Angus will be as well) are shining examples of children taught by vigilant parents how to live in peace with the universe and to help others live the same way. Unity, cooperation (as Sarah expounded), understanding and most of all love are vital elements of protecting and preserving peace.

       To a third of the six billion people on this earth, Christmas symbolizes the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, the Light of the world. To the others, He hopefully represents a great leader, a Man of Peace who left marvelous teachings such as Buddha or Mohammed did.
      In our Western Judeo-Christian culture, we light the Menorah, our Jewish symbol of peace and prosperity for all. On the Christian side, our children hang up stockings on Christmas Eve in hopes Santa will fill them with shiny, new toys.
      Christmas trees are decorated and cities gleam in festive illumination; vigil lights are lit in honor of peacekeepers such as Gandhi or for those who perished on Nine Eleven. December 25th is a time when the world takes a break from war and anger and resentment and puts down the swords of discontent. For one, brief day, we all become one.

      As a Vigilant Grandmother I believe Sarah, Matt and baby Angus are Lights of Vigilance, shining upon the world. So are the 2 billion other young children around the world.
      I am proud of my lovely Christmas elf, Sarah, concerning herself more about peace in the world than receiving Christmas presents. Christmas is a Season of Vigilance, a time to look for ways to become one of many rather than to reinforce the idea that our way is the “right way,” and everyone who doesn’t follow our path must be
our enemy.
      Even though our enemies think our way of life is wrong, and that the idea we commercialize Christmas is just one more example of the emptiness of capitalism, and a symbol of our soul’s vacuous nature, Jesus and Gandhi remind us to turn the other cheek—that is, to not become our enemy by casting rocks at their disdain for us. Even when such disdain results in a vicious attack on thousands of innocent people in a World Trade Center holocaust, or a suicide bomber blasting innocent people in a busy marketplace.
      Our teachers, the Jesus’ and Gandhis, are reminders that good will and peace will pervade. They are joined by other great teachers such as Mohammed and Buddha. They are the Religious Sentinels of Vigilance, those who believe with their lives that the children of the earth, and their children’s children deserve the great gift of peace and prosperity.
They believe all children are lights in the world and can be vigilant peacekeepers of the world. They believe the kids are our beacon of hope for the future.

Jesus, Prince of Peace, knocking on the door of the United Nations

     As I watched Sarah swing and her eyes glisten in the warm sunlight, I knew she wasn’t going to ask me any more questions about who was the king of Christmas—Santa? Jesus? Gandhi?
I saw in her eyes the recognition of the great gift she had—the one that can only be given by parents, grandparents and loved ones. I knew that she knew her great Christmas present was that of family love—love from a family of Vigilance who cared about her.
     While Santa and Jesus and Gandhi and Mohammed might be important, they weren’t the ones who answered her questions, or took her to the park, or swung her, or tucked her in at night with a story and a hug and a love, or told her how great she was from the inside out, or knelt down next to her to listen with respect to her ideas, feelings, beliefs.

     Sarah knew who was in charge of Christmas.
      Sarah knew it was Family Love.






      Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi, one of the most influential figures in modern social and political activism considered these traits to be the most spiritually perilous to humanity. 

Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Science without Humanity
Knowledge without Character
Politics without Principle
Commerce without Morality
Worship without Sacrifice

Following are some of Gandhi's teachings:

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and
done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.

Democracy and violence can ill go together.
Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.

Hatred ever kills, love never dies; such is the vast difference between the
two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by
hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.

Non-cooperation with evil is a sacred duty.

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.
An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.
A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.

Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is
mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man

It may be long before the law of love will be recognized in international
affairs. The machinery's of government stand between and hide the hearts of
one people from those of another.

To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies in loving in spite of the vivid
knowledge that the one that must be loved is not a friend.

What kind of victory is it when someone is left defeated?

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Whether humanity will consciously follow the law of love, I do not know.
But that need not disturb me. The law will work just as the law of gravitation works, whether we accept it or not.
The person who discovered the law of love was a far greater scientist than any of our modern scientists.
Only our explorations have not gone far enough and so it is not possible for everyone to see all its workings.

Violent means will give violent freedom.

However much I may sympathize with and admire worthy motives, I am an
uncompromising opponent of violent methods even to serve the noblest of

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the
other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more
effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.

Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call
forth approbation, and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed,
whether good or wicked always deserves respect or pity as the case may be.

Hate the sin and not the sinner is a precept which though easy enough to
understand is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred
spreads in the world.

Nonviolence and cowardice are contradictory terms. Nonviolence is the
greatest virtue, cowardice the greatest vice. Nonviolence springs from
love, cowardice from hate. Nonviolence always suffers, cowardice always inflicts suffering. Perfect nonviolence is the highest bravery.
Nonviolent conduct is never demoralizing, cowardice always is.

Destruction is not the law of humans. Man lives freely only by his
readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him.
Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on
another is a crime against humanity.

Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield
to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.

Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will.
Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.

It is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never
able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us.
This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good
heart whatever they might have to say.

It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had violence, i.e. hate, ruled us
we should have become extinct long ago. And yet, the tragedy of it is that
the so-called civilized men and nations conduct themselves as if the basis
of society was violence.


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