Limited Taxation & Government
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Barbara's Bi-Weekly Column

[daily radio] Citizens Update

By Barbara Anderson
WESX AM-1230 -- December 23, 1998

This is Barbara Anderson for CLT&G, with a WESX Citizens Update

Tis the week before Christmas, in the Senate and House
Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
The bills that were filed await the New Year
So for a few weeks we have nothing to fear.

But high on the Hill, the lobby groups roam
Mass. Municipal wants a new tax on your home.
And over in Danvers, a brand new idea
A surtax on tickets to movies we see-a.

A grinch who steals taxpayer dollars could bound
Down the chimney with bills for new taxes he's found.
So let's all join hands, and be of good cheer
And resolve to oppose those new taxes next year.

This is Barbara Anderson. Happy holidays.

Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will Only
By Barbara Anderson

Peace on earth, good will toward men. Or is it peace on earth to men of good will?

I was taught the latter, by nuns who were trying to influence behavior for the good. At other times of the year we prayed that sinners would repent and mend their evil ways, but at Christmas we were focused on rewarding those who were already in a state of grace.

In my little German-Irish Catholic hometown, the eve of St. Nicholas was the beginning of the holiday season. Sometime after dark on December 5th, the Germanic Belsnickle would arrived, stern and demanding. My cousins and I were ordered, one by one, to recite our prayers, tie our shoes, or count to ten, whatever new skill we had mastered in anticipation of this test of worthiness. If we did well -- if we deserved -- we received a bag of goodies. If we failed -- if we did not deserve -- we received a bag of coal.

I don't remember any of us not getting our crayons and popcorn balls. But of course we had learned our prayers, tied our shoes, counted to ten. Santa Claus would come three weeks later, with unconditional love and presents, but equally wonderful was the terror of waiting for St. Nicholas, of being required to achieve, to deserve.

Peace on earth, good will toward men. One of the boys once asked our tough, jolly Irish priest, "Father, if someone hits me, must I turn the other cheek?" "Yes, my son, that's what Jesus said to do." "But Father, what if he then hits the other cheek?" "Then, my son," said Father Edgar, "you punch him in the nose." Peace on earth, to men of good will only.

Jingle bells, silver bells. The warmth of candles, tree lights, yule logs and cocoa make us want to melt into a pile of slush at this time of year, and there's nothing wrong with taking a little vacation from cynicism, annoyance and outrage.  But when we determine our normal attitude and method of operation, this is the choice:

Peace at any price. Blessed are the meek. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Can't we all just get along? Or,

Go ahead, make my day. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice. Judge, and prepare to be judged. Do not suffer fools gladly.

We may be born with an inclination one way or the other; I personally cannot recall ever experiencing meekness. But out of the mist of childhood past, another nunny bromide: hate the sin, but love the sinner. ("But why is the beloved sinner in hell, Sister?" "Barbara, sit down and stop arguing...")

Contradictions aside, this is not a bad compromise between compassion and fairness, between total tolerance and a demand for acceptable behavior. We can love our fellow human beings, feel good will toward them and hope they find their way. We can hate their sins, along with our own, and share forgiveness. But the path between sinning and forgiveness cannot be an easy one for any of us, or the world simply cannot work.

Let's take President Clinton as a example, since the impeachment issue intrudes into our holiday no matter how loudly we sing "Good King Winceslaus." Though we hate his lies, we can feel compassion for his weakness, forgive him for everything, and impeach him with goodwill.

Perjury is a high crime and misdemeanor, because our system of justice falls apart unless all citizens are required to tell the truth under oath. If a precedent is set in which perjury is allowed in certain circumstances, we will eventually hunger and thirst after justice to no avail. In this case, we must judge, as we ourselves would be judged.

The sight of Congressmen voting for our system of justice, on principle, despite the polls, assaults my usual cynicism and makes me believe again. I am grateful for the chance we've had to discuss the rule of law, which we sometimes forget is the centerpiece of our nation's greatness. And in my present warm and mushy holiday mood, I can even look at the partisan Massachusetts delegation, the hypocritical feminists of NOW, and the insufferably foolish who insist this is just about sex, and say, with all sincerity, "Peace on earth to men and women of good will."

Barbara Anderson is co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her bi-weekly column is syndicated and regularly appears in the (Salem) Evening News, (Attleboro) Sun-Chronicle and the (Worcester) Telegram-Gazette.

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