My Advent Playlist Day 8: Every Child Must Be Made to Care (by Marlie Magill)

So last year I blogged through the entire month of December to celebrate Advent season, and all in all it was a pretty successful venture! I felt very much plugged into the spirit of the season, and learned a thing or two about myself along the way. On the other hand, it almost killed me, so this year I embark on the same quest with no small amount of trepidation. I figured I could mitigate some stress, though, by messing with the formula a little. So this year I'm using Christmas carols as thematic springboards for my Advent blog posts. Each day I will pick a line from a Christmas carol and reflect on its meaning in the context of my/our experience with Christmas this year.

[When I set out on my Advent series this year, I figured if I wanted to come out the other side intact I would need to elicit some help from my talented friends and loved ones. Last year I enlisted my incredibly talented and generally awesome sister Marlie to write about under-appreciated Biblical heroine Anna, who represents simultaneously the marginalization of women in Biblical narratives and the call of God on bold women to preach the Gospel. It was one of my most viewed and lauded posts last year, so as I considered who to tap for guest posts this year, it was a no brainer. Here again, my treat to you, my sister Marlie's ideas on peace, faith, and generational relations.]

Every Child Must Be Made to Care

Here we are!
Any music lover ought to be able to appreciate the unique musical fusion of a David Bowie-Bing Crosby duet, especially for a Christmas song. I mean, how often do a flashy pop icon and a legendary crooner team up to produce a beautiful holiday tune? I’d say about once in a lifetime. Indeed, the collaboration itself is impressive, but beyond this, the messages of the songs (“Little Drummer Boy” and “Peace on Earth”) truly encompass the Christmas spirit.

The “Little Drummer Boy” (or at least the claymation illustration of the song) is a sort of narrative about the birth of Christ from the perspective of a poor, orphaned, but talented young boy. 

He meets the infant and recognizes His importance, and once he sees the warmth and light of the young child, all he wants is to show his love and adoration. Being of humble circumstance, the boy offers what he can: a song. Ultimately, this experience prompts the boy to renounce his hatred for mankind and accept the love and care of others. The baby Christ even heals the boy’s sick lamb. This story, I think, acts as an analogy for a crucial aspect of the Christian faith. When we seek out Christ for love and acceptance, He wants nothing more from us. In a world which revolves around consumption and economic gain, this can seem hard to believe. As they say, nothing is ever TRULY free. But just as with any other loving relationship, all God wants from us in return is love and devotion, and when we choose love over hate or skepticism, miracles can take place.

In “Peace on Earth” Bowie describes the hope that future generations will know peace in a way that none have before. The song was released in 1982, so when we look at this song within the context of the Cold War, the global nuclear arms race, and conflicts in the Middle East such as the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979, it’s easy to understand why peace seemed a necessary, yet unattainable pursuit. Perhaps this is why the song calls specifically on children to develop the sympathy and “good will” that will change the world for the better. The world, as it was, was so ridden with conflict and unrest that it must have seemed impossible to know peace until an entirely new generation was in power. In many ways, I think our society is still struggling to get past this legacy of violence and uncertainty.

So why bring these two songs together? I think it has to do with the transformative power of unconditional love as represented in both songs, and the amazing things that can happen when people choose to care. For children especially, learning to care for others is one of the hardest lessons in life, because it seems so counter-intuitive. Any teacher, parent, youth pastor, or youth counselor can describe to you how prevalent this struggle is for teenagers as well. On the path to self-discovery, we adolescents (and yes, I say “we” because I, too, am technically still in adolescence) can often lose sight of the needs of others. This condition of adolescence, however, is not, and should not be considered unchangeable. It is up to the significant people in children’s lives to teach them to care for others, and to care for the world as a whole. Child advocates at every level need to be held accountable for instilling children with the moral, ethical, and/or academic lessons that will allow them to think critically and innovatively, and to love genuinely. The ultimate goal of peace on earth starts with conditioning the hearts of men, women, and children to care, and what better time to show you care than during the Christmas season?


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