- Sunday, December 10, 2023

This season’s major holidays are about embracing the light and dispelling the darkness.

In much of the Northern Hemisphere, this is a time of short days, cold nights, ice and snow.

But darkness is also a metaphor for the world that is fast closing in on us.

Light plays an important role in Hanukkah — the Festival of Lights — and Christmas, only weeks apart.

For Jews, there’s the menorah, which represents the miracle of the one-day supply of sacred oil that burned for eight days in the Temple. For Christians, it’s the Star of Bethlehem, which, according to tradition, guided the wise men to the manger. The star atop a Christmas tree is a dazzling reminder.

For both, it was a time of darkness in the land of Israel. In the second century BCE, Israel had been conquered by the Syrian Greek empire. In the first century CE, Rome was the occupying power. In each period, evil was ascendant.

The Greeks defiled the Holy Temple and outlawed Judaism, including circumcision and the study of the Torah.

The Romans were content as long as everyone paid their taxes (rendered unto Caesar) and no one challenged their authority. But someone always did. The response was often torture and execution. In the end, Rome destroyed the Second Temple and exiled the Jews from their land.

Our age is no less brutal, but we’ve found ways to kill more efficiently.

There’s terrorism abroad, including a war to annihilate Israel. The savagery unleashed on Oct. 7 is too horrible to describe in detail. The murdering thugs who perpetrated the atrocities evince a depravity that’s hard to imagine.

Around the world, evil marches in the streets, slandering the Jewish state and calling for a second Holocaust. At a congressional hearing last week, the president of Harvard refused to explicitly state that calls for genocide were a form of harassment and would be punished on her campus.

Regimes saturated with evil are advancing everywhere. Russia and China have nuclear weapons. Iran is acquiring them. Russia makes war on Ukraine. China threatens war over Taiwan. Iran directs the war against Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Contemporary America looks like a slaughterhouse built over a sewer.

Our once proud cities have become cesspools of crime, addiction and vagrancy. It’s open season on police officers. Smash-and-grab robberies, carjackings and racist mobs are rampant.

How can a country call itself civilized when derelicts are allowed to defecate in the streets?

Criminals, drugs, contagious diseases, and trafficked women and children flow across our unguarded border. The party in power allows it to continue out of expediency.

There is mounting evidence that for years the man in the White House acted like the political equivalent of a high-class hooker, trading favors for foreign cash.

While evil prowls the land, the most important thing on the minds of many voters is maintaining the ability to sacrifice our children to the idol of choice.

The elite denies biology by insisting that gender is something we choose. Teens are encouraged to have healthy organs amputated to mimic the opposite sex in the latest revolt against nature.

Drag queens read stories to children. The corruption of children proceeds apace.

At times, it seems futile to resist the towering wave that threatens to engulf us.

Act we must. But our actions alone aren’t enough.

In the Bible, light symbolizes divine wisdom. Proverbs says, “The spirit of man is the lamp of God, searching all the inner depths of his heart.”

Are we too worldly to heed the wisdom of the ages? Are we too caught up with online shopping, texting and emojis to consider that there may be a way out of this quagmire other than political action?

Darkness is a breeding ground for disease. Light has an antiseptic quality.

At times, evil can seem overwhelming. But take heart. Genesis says that in the beginning, there was darkness “upon the face of the deep.” Then God said, “Let there be light.” He saw the light, and it was good.

In a spiritual sense, the dark will never be entirely defeated — at least not in this world. But we can do our best to keep it at bay.

In this holiday season, let the light of candles and stars illuminate our path. Let it inspire us and awaken what Abraham Lincoln called our better angels.

• Don Feder is a columnist with The Washington Times.

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