A 2009 'Christmas Carol'

Christmas comes but once a year, and the reflections of 2009 have not been pretty for many of us. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, it has been easy to be self-absorbed in our daily survival as our world swirls around us. Like Bob Cratchit, we are equally concerned about keeping our positions as we are about our families' future if those positions are lost. Scrooge's business was lending money to others by taking ownership of their desires, even though many of his clients could not afford Scrooge's financial entanglements, a case not far removed from the folly of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's spending binge that put us all in debt for decades to come.

When asked to donate extra monetary assistance for the disadvantaged and needy, Scrooge made it clear he already supported many on public assistance, but if they were on death's door they should perish and "decrease the surplus population." Perhaps Scrooge was the forerunner of government run health care rationing.

Scrooge was reminded of his past, much as we are today. We are mixed with both great and bad memories that have shaped our personal history and our collective spirit. Americans cannot escape our founding or the constitutional principals we base our freedoms on. Ebenezer could not escape his past any more than we should change our republic or the concepts that have upheld this nation for 233 years. Like Scrooge, who wished he could make his history disappear, there are those currently in power who wish to fundamentally change our historic legacy into something unrecognizable and, in so doing, erase the very essence of who we are.

Our Christmas present is a mixture of plenty in a time of want. Scrooge was shown what others thought of him, and even though they disliked his ways, he was given a level of respect that awakened his lack of empathy so he could see he had been wrong in his treatment of others. Today's politicians should also take similar heed to the realities of those who placed them in power. Otherwise, they may be haunted by their lack of empathy and concern for the electorate they are supposed to serve.

When Scrooge asked the ghost of Christmas present about Bob Crachit's son's fate, he was told that "Tiny" Tim's next Christmas would likely be his last. For Scrooge, the answer drew only a small glimmer of sympathy from his steely heart. Our economy, like "Tiny" Tim, is crippled and needs more than governmental handouts and fleeting stimulus programs that have not created real job growth. It isn't about feeling sorry for ourselves, it's about letting our marketplace heal itself, as it has many times without any government sympathy.

Unfortunately for Scrooge, he had to see the specter of his own death before he could admit his wrongs and seek redemption. Once he understood the gravity of his failures, he was able to become a force for good not only in his life but in the lives of many others. Shall it be that we are haunted by a dark world we cannot recognize, or will America redeem its promise of individual liberty, self-reliance, productivity and less government for the free exchange of commerce and independence? Scrooge had no choice but to change for the better, and we should hearken to the promise of the season to make our next Christmas even brighter. For now, the reflections of our faith in Christ and his love of mankind shall glow warmly for those who know him, and as "Tiny" Tim said, "God bless us, everyone."

Tony Lambros, Fallston

Time has come for rational public discourse

I cheered Ruth Wooden and Andrew L. Yarrow's commentary, "Reclaim the 'town hall' for genuine public engagement" (Dec. 21). It aptly expressed a frustration that I have felt for quite some time and actually offered an alternative to today's devolved "town hall" that is designed to include those who have rational opinions and thoughtful questions about the issues under consideration by the government.

I think we the people are more divided than we have been in years, and I believe we owe much of that division to the loud voices of the "town hall" naysayers who have received an inordinate amount of publicity - especially, but not exclusively, on cable TV stations. As a result of this media concentration on the uninformed, misinformed and disinformed rudely shouting their opinions into microphones conveniently provided to capture their vitriol for the evening news, a "silent majority" of those with reasoned views and softer voices has been largely overlooked.

I can only hope the "Achieving the Dream Project" takes root in our communities and college campuses, giving voice to those have been ignored and fostering a reasoned response to the ranting that has filled our airwaves far too often for far too long.

Lin Gall, Bel Air

Merry Christmas and thanks, from Jews to Christians

I want to wish the American Christian community a very heartfelt "Merry Christmas" and thank you for your generosity, courage and self-sacrifice to try to make the world a better place. In these difficult times you seem to hear more criticism and not enough thanks from those you have saved from tyranny and hunger over the decades.

As an American Jew, I have always been extremely thankful to my fellow American Christians for courageously helping to protect the life and liberty of my people. I cannot envision a world without you. Thank you from those who meant to say it, but just haven't - and may you all have a very merry Christmas.

Randy Lutz, Pikesville

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