FDR’s Christmas Message, 1940

post by UptheFlag

At this Christmastide of 1940 it is well for all humanity to remind itself that while this is in its name a Christian celebration, it is participated in reverently and happily by hundreds of millions of people who are members of other religions, or belong actively to no church at all.
The reason is not far to seek. It is because the spirit of unselfish service personified by the life and the teachings of Christ makes appeal to the inner conscience and hope of every man and every woman in every part of the Earth. It transcends in the ultimate all lines of race, of habitat, of nation. It lives in the midst of war, of slavery, of conquest. It survives prohibitions and decrees and force. It is an unquenchable Spring of Promise to humanity.
Sometimes we who have lived through the strifes and the hates of a quarter-century wonder if this old world of ours has abandoned the ideals of the Brotherhood of Man. Sometimes we ask if contention and anger in our own midst in America are a portent of disunion and disaster. Sometimes we fear that the selfishness of the individual is more and more controlling in our lives.
When we are in those moods it is hard for us to keep from putting our tongues in our cheeks when we say “Merry Christmas” — for we think in thoughts of futility and not of hope. A few people are cynics all of the time; some people are cynics part of the time; but most people keep their faith most of the time.
That is why we must keep on striving for a better and a more happy world.
It is unintelligent to be defeatist. Crisis may beget crisis but ‘the progress underneath does not wholly halt’ — it does go forward.
In a century we have gained much. Aside from great areas stricken by actual warfare in the present moment, the lives of human beings are safer than they were in the olden days. Great and spreading plagues take a smaller toll; starvation of millions is less; the forces of nature are better controlled. There is in the civilization we recognize a greater security for the young, for the worker, for the aged. Charity in the narrower sense of the word helps the needy more usefully.
Compared with the days when Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol,” we see a definite betterment. We do not claim attainment, and we recognize that there is much — oh, so much — to do.
Most of all we ask a chance to do it — yes, a peaceful chance to do it.
We want to do it the voluntary way — and most human beings in all the world want to do it the voluntary way. We do not want to have the way imposed on the world by the conquest of the world by the sword.
That would not follow in the footsteps of Christ. That would not make for happier Christmases in the future of any nation. Mankind is all one — and what happens in distant lands tomorrow will leave its mark on the happiness of our Christmases to come.
Let us make this Christmas a merry one for the little children in our midst. For us of maturer years it cannot be merry.
But for most of us it can be a Happy Christmas if by happiness we mean that we have done with doubts, that we have set our hearts against fear, that we still believe in the Golden Rule for all mankind, that we intend to live more purely in the spirit of Christ, and that by our works, as well as our words, we will strive forward in Faith and in Hope and in Love.
In that spirit I wish a Happy Christmas to all, and happier Christmases yet to come.”

Did the Master hit it out of the park?

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7 thoughts on “FDR’s Christmas Message, 1940

  1. There you go again, lol! That’s not my point.
    That message of 12/25/40 hits home today. FDR knows war is coming with
    Germany, and it is referenced here. In a way, he is preparing the country for
    it.

    To me, the importance is his reference back to the 1933 inauguration and
    the warning of “fear”, and specifically to “It is an unquenchable Spring of Promise to humanity.
    Sometimes we who have lived through the strifes and the hates of a quarter-century wonder if this old world of ours has abandoned the ideals of the Brotherhood of Man. Sometimes we ask if contention and anger in our own midst in America are a portent of disunion and disaster. Sometimes we fear that the selfishness of the individual is more and more controlling in our lives.
    When we are in those moods it is hard for us to keep from putting our tongues in our cheeks when we say “Merry Christmas” — for we think in thoughts of futility and not of hope. A few people are cynics all of the time; some people are cynics part of the time; but most people keep their faith most of the time.
    That is why we must keep on striving for a better and a more happy world.
    It is unintelligent to be defeatist. Crisis may beget crisis but ‘the progress underneath does not wholly halt’ — it does go forward.
    In a century we have gained much. Aside from great areas stricken by actual warfare in the present moment, the lives of human beings are safer than they were in the olden days. Great and spreading plagues take a smaller toll; starvation of millions is less; the forces of nature are better controlled. There is in the civilization we recognize a greater security for the young, for the worker, for the aged. Charity in the narrower sense of the word helps the needy more usefully.
    Compared with the days when Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol,” we see a definite betterment. We do not claim attainment, and we recognize that there is much — oh, so much — to do.
    Most of all we ask a chance to do it — yes, a peaceful way…”

    My friend, FDR puts much better into words what my comments have been
    trying to say. One comment said that I was failing you, here is hoping that
    FDR’s words will encourage you not to surrender to momentary dissatisfaction with political, social, and economic progress. Rome was not
    built in a day! On a time-line the United States has been around maybe something like a day compared to ancient Rome. FDR tells us to keep the faith and not surrender to doubt. The Baptists tell us that the best weapon that the devil has is the hot poker of discouragement. If a person or people become discouraged, then negativity and darkness wins. We
    are much better than that, my friend.

    A NEW YEAR is here, and we need to rededicate ourselves to real
    change and getaway from dealing with talking points for the sake
    of argumentation. We accomplish nothing with that way of attacking
    the system. It’s like voices hollering in the wilderness, no one hears
    us. Some comments I made a few months back seem to be the only
    possible way of moving progressively ahead. At the very least we can
    try!

    1. I applaud this comment, my friend; it is excellent not only in substance but in literary style. Fr. O’Neil would be proud.

      If I may I would inquire: if humanity has made such great strides in ‘civilization’ in recent years, how would you explain the overwhelming and savage support by the citizens of this nation for G.W. Bush’s War on Iraq? How does that fit in with your supposition that we humans are becoming more humane decade by decade?

      Was this merely a statistical outlier? Or is savagery close to the surface in all of humankind?

  2. Will wonders ever cease, some positive affirmations. My cup runneth over, lol!i

    As to your questions, I think that you know the answers. The last question,
    of course, is a reason given for the creation of governments and, I will
    dare to say, religion. Government to protect and serve, and religion
    to establish scruples and ethics. Theory, my friend.

    I might say that to answer your questions, and to broaden your horizon,
    you audit a history graduate course on historiography. Call, better yet go
    out to the University and talk with the history chairman about sitting in on
    the next historiography class. Professional courtesy!

    As to “savagery” ask a psychologist what occurs when the rat labyrinth becomes over-populated with adding more and more rats.

  3. I meant to comment on this…but you might find it interesting that there is a new political party in France that is going to make a lot of waves…It is as yet un named, an alternative to the Socialists who are being seen as too centrist and much to divided to effectively rule. The Party is forming out of a political activist group that is now called Roosevelt 2014…until last night, they were Roosevelt 2013….both my wife and myself are members…some pretty brilliant minds are involved.

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