For Release December 24, 2002

Another Christmas List

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

Whatís Christmas without a wish list? Christmas just seems to demand a list. But you see, I feel like Iíve already received all the presents I can expect for this year. Itís been a very good year for me. So my Christmas list this year is going to be a little more philosophical, perhaps more eccentric and definitely more esoteric than most Christmas wish lists!

Iím going to start with peace on earth goodwill towards all people. Sure itís trite; everybody says it, often without thinking. So letís think about it for a moment. The human race is a species that has to have hope. Without hope we become the worst that we can become. With hope we strive, we strive to become better than what we are. So with the specter of war and terrorism looming over us, we all need to hope for peace. We could be cynical and say that there never has been peace on earth, thereís always someone fighting somewhere. But we canít change the whole world at once. We achieve peace, and goodwill, one person at a time, starting with yourself. Which leads me right into my next wish.

I wish for more tolerance for other cultures and people who see things differently than I do. For some reason, our society has developed this notion that different is bad. If we arenít all thinking the same thing and agreeing on everything, then we have a problem. If that group doesnít think like I do, if they donít look like I do, or donít like the same things that I do, then I donít like them. That is a very dangerous state of mind to be in. Occasionally different isnít good, sometimes itís even bad or dangerous. But usually, different is just that; different. It isnít more correct or less correct, it isnít more right or less right, it is just different, and thatís okay!

One thing that my trip to Africa last spring showed me was that the rest of the world does not think or act like Americans. Many Americans find that very unsettling and they feel threatened by it. But the reverse of that is that very few Americans know what it is like to be anything but an American. Does that make any one American better or worse than any other person from around the world? No, it just makes each of us different. What do we know about other religions, other cultures, other ways of life? Probably very little. But that doesnít mean we need to be threatened by them. What we need to do is to learn to be more tolerant of what is different. We donít necessarily need to change them, whoever them is, but letís start by learning more about them and learn to treasure the differences.

And finally, my last wish is to learn to be more thankful for what I have, and more willing to share with those who do not have. We really have become a very selfish society. Just take a day and watch everything you do, from someone elseís eyes. It may scare you to realize how we react to the world around us, when viewed by someone else. However, itís difficult for me to change how you act, but I can do a lot about how I act. And maybe if I can act a little bit less selfish and more sharing, that will rub off on someone else, and gosh, thatís how change is accomplished; one individual at a time! We truly have so very much, and we find ourselves wanting more. But often, the best feelings come in the giving and not the getting.

I wish you nothing but the best this holiday season. Be safe, and be careful. Travel soberly and cautiously, and give praise, in your own little way, for all the blessings we have, year in and year out. Merry Christmas everyone...


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