Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

Christmas Eve this year gives me pause.

Come to think of it, that happens pretty much every year. But, like so much else, it's different this year.

This is the time when we hear about the angels coming to the shepherds to tell them about the birth of Jesus Christ. As part of that proclamation, the angels say, "on earth, peace and good will toward men." — Luke 2:14.

At least that's what it says in most translations. Over the centuries, it morphed into a more user-friendly Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men. Then we got to the more inclusive (and politically correct) Good Will Toward All.

The point is, angels are hoping for, or blessing the world with, good will from one person to another, no matter who they are.

Let's take a look at 2020 with that sentiment in mind.

The failures first. 

I think I can safely say that our political parties and those who support them are more divided than at any time in our country's history, at least back to the Civil War. It's no longer a matter of disagreeing with ideas — physical threats, hatred and a stubborn refusal to even consider hearing the other side has dragged us down into the mud.

Instead of wishing good will, far too often we're wishing bad ends for our adversaries.

Then there was the Black Lives Matter movement, spurred on by the murder of George Floyd, complete with ongoing protests and backlash from a movement characterized in the extreme by the White Supremacist groups. Again, violence squashed hope for dialog.

At least in the Black Lives Matter arena, there is some hope for the future — as long as we add Hispanics, Japanese, Cambodians and more — with honest discussion about equity. There's much work to be done, but at least we're talking about good will towards one another.

I'll call that a transition to the good will of 2020. And believe it or not, there has been tons of good will.

It began with the rise of a common enemy — the coronavirus. The potentially fatal disease, and the severe societal restrictions imposed in an attempt to fight it, put us all in unfamiliar, unpleasant and sometimes dangerous situations.

But we also rallied — around those on the front lines, the victims of the disease, and the victims of the shutdown as small businesses and restaurants struggled to survive.

I found it amazing how the people in our community continued to step up and support the nonprofits helping those in need. Talk about Good Will. 

It started in earnest with the Long Beach Gives campaign in September. By then, we were six months into pandemic mode, and I was skeptical about the willingness and/or ability of Long Beach to step up with donations once again. After all, those who had the wherewithal had been opening their wallets over and over again.

They showed me — $1.7 million of showing. And they did it again with our Gift Card Drive to benefit victims of domestic violence being helped by WomenShelter. More money was raised in 2020 than the year before.

Those are only the campaigns I was personally involved with; there were many others just as successful. In other words, Long Beach has been, and I suspect will continue to be, full of good will to all.

It makes me proud, and gives me hope — just like Christmas Eve and the birth of Christ gives me hope. 

Thank you, and Merry Christmas. God bless us, every one.

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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