Jim Cahillane: Holidays offer opportunity to share love

  • About 400 people protesting the election of Donald Trump march down State Street in Northampton after attending a rally in front of City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/22/2016 9:50:33 PM

Though our lives are measured in minutes, hours, days, months and years, few of them are likely to equal the one fast closing.

A few weeks ago I was struck by a Gospel reading: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” My first thought was to expound on how difficult an injunction to love is for today’s hyperactive America. Everyone is wired into the world 24/7, yet it’s a world that’s increasingly incomprehensible.

My generation’s faith in our future was stolen when Jack Kennedy was murdered. Many of us rushed down to St. Mary’s Church in prayer and confusion. America has suffered an ongoing series of such shocks: MLK, RFK, Vietnam, Iraq, 9/11, wars that don’t end and mass shootings— painfully absorbed one by one.

Songwriter and rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote and starred in the Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” spoke directly to millions of hearts from his poet’s soul. On accepting his Tony Award just hours after the Orlando Pulse nightclub killings, Lin tearfully cried out, “Love is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love, is love!”

Demonstrators are on the streets of America proclaiming: Love Trumps Hate! Bumper sticker slogans make a point, but seldom change anything. In this case love is the operative word. A few examples:

In the musical, “Oliver,” lyricist Lionel Bart asked, “Where is love?” He deepened love’s mystery by asking, “Does it fall from skies above?” Here he reinforces what churchgoers have heard all their lives: God is Love.

The early death of the groundbreaking PBS news anchor and reporter, Gwen Ifill, inspired a tribute from New York Times columnist David Brooks. In his column he said of Ifill, “If she didn’t go to church on Sunday she felt a little flatter for the whole week.” Brooks went on to observe, “A spirit as deep and ebullient as hers needed nourishment and care.”

How many more of us are feeling in need of nourishment and care? Where, asked a motherless Oliver, is love found?

Presidential elections earn their place in our nation’s history and our individual memories. I’ve generally preferred Democratic policies and candidates. Given the national circus just ended, you may smile along with me in knowing that one major knock on Adlai Stevenson was his divorce. Trump has married three times and admitted to so many affairs that he described escape from social diseases as his personal Vietnam.

Major newspapers and polls were giving Clinton a 98 percent chance of victory. Not only did she lose, but lost in “rust belt” areas that supported Obama and Democratic initiatives like Social Security, better health care, increased minimum wage, unions, day care and parental leave.

We are left to wonder at what went wrong. “Put not your faith in princes,” warns a psalm. Even good people may let you down.

What little I know about elections is that people vote their wallets. Historians will argue that the FBI, Russian hackers and WikiLeaks all played destructive roles in Hillary’s defeat. Her campaign faults are being deeply analyzed and criticized in ways that we never heard when the polls had her winning. I will leave the Monday-morning quarterbacking to experts who came down hard on Hillary in 2008 when she lost to Barak. I don’t recall hearing repeated charges of misogyny back then. This year the M-word seemed to be in every newscast.

Misogyny takes on the character of a foreign language to men who respect their wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, daughters-in-law and sisters-in-law, grandmothers plus co-workers and friends. A man rightly labeled as a misogynist puts him on the wrong side of love.

An interesting new book by Pope Francis, “The Joy of Love,” speaks of family love. Francis approves of today’s increasingly popular friendly embrace, which he credits to Jesus. I don’t recall that many hugs growing up, but celebrate them when they come my way.

Like Pope Francis, I, too, am open to positive change and endorse brotherly and sisterly hugs, not to mention those of our children and grandchildren.

The holidays offer us new opportunities to share love, which is the crème de la crème triumph of love over hate.

James Francis Cahillane, of Williamsburg, will present “A Northampton Journey: From Pumps to Politics to Print” and read from and sign his new book, “The Pilot’s Satchel,” at Historic Northampton at 2 p.m. Dec. 3.




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