Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Editorial for Presbyterian Tribune c1949

By Jesse Halsey

“Christmas is coming . . .” and what happens will depend upon where you live. What can Christmas mean to Christians in Korea, south or north? What can Christmas mean to millions in countries like East Germany where it used to be the great day of the year and now, because of religious repressions and economic strictures, little in material ways is possible. What about Yugoslavia with a non-existent harvest and a winter of starvation ahead? How does one keep Christmas without toys for the children and food for the table? It is all very well for us who have so much to be merry at Christmas, but what about the others?

In my last talk with Dr. Robert E. Spear, he said that, the greatest mystery of Divine providence was the fact that America had so completely escaped the judgments of God, abroad in so many parts of the earth. With our superabundance of good things, we are doubly obligated as individuals to share—“We bear the Christian name and mark.” And as churches, the needs of brother Christians in many lands claim our consideration just now for the Christmas—the Christ spirit—must “get abroad” else the whole thing is a mockery!

From a national point of view, we are learning that freedom is expensive. Most of us believe it is worth all that it costs. Uncle Sam is often pictured as Santa Claus by the caricaturists. The Marshall Plan is sometimes dubbed in terms of Kris Kringle beneficence. Just the same, increasingly, the country will bear the burden of rearmament and huge military expenditure. Along with it might it not be that some gestures of hope and goodwill, might be used?

At last report, the American Commissioner in West Germany had at his disposal some $50,000 contributed by friends for the relief of refugees and the feeding and housing of those who have managed to escape from the tyrannies of East Germany. Such persons—refugees from the Bolshevik terror—aided and rehabilitated, would be worth in terms of propaganda, the equivalent of many guns.

All through Indiana and Illinois, near hundreds of rural stations, there are great metal beehives of corn. In the western states the superabundance of nature (wheat) is often rotting on the ground for want of shelter. Potatoes in excess—subsidized for destruction—have become almost a national scandal.

Would it not be the very best strategy in the face of the world situation to dispatch some of these surpluses to the Adriatic and to Yugoslavia? If potatoes will not stand the voyage, certainly grain will. The best anti-communist, pro-American propaganda at our disposal is American surplus grain in hungry countries here and there the world around. Communism thrives on starvation. Communism literally goes on its belly. In playing Santa Claus, Uncle Same might be showing good business sense. Twenty or more divisions of Serbian soldiers right on the spot are one of earth’s most dangerous points! Would it not be excellent business for our government to help in the face of Yugoslavia’s famine?

We (editorial plural) have mixed our metaphors, jumbled our idealism with prudential economics in rather characteristic American style; this I confess. But more than ever before, we are convinced that food is akin to friendship, and that gestures of help are the best propaganda. Believing in preparedness, defending right with might, I still would leave no door or help unopened, trusting that friendship is better than ferocity and that the Christmas spirit is not confined to one day in December.

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