Friday, September 21, 2012

International Day of Peace and a Christmas surprise

September 21 is the International Day of Peace, organized and sponsored by the Culture of Peace Initiative, "a UN-designated 'Peace Messenger Initiative' with participants in all the world's regions."

In other words, today is a UN-promoted observance. Even though the United Nations has done a pretty poor job of preserving or establishing world peace, the idea that someday all of us passengers on Planet Earth might get along is a really good one and we can't help but endorse it.

But we also promised you a Christmas surprise.

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men would be the best surprise, of course -- and, sorry, we can't provide it.

Nor is it a surprise, of course, that malls around America are already festooned with Christmas decorations. It seems like Christmas gets pushed up the calendar earlier and earlier every year, doesn't it?

Well, maybe not!

Seriously (and, we would argue, surprisingly), it was on September 21, 1897 that the New York Sun published the famous editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

An excerpt (quoted from the Newseum website):
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.
Not enough for you? Well, we didn't forget: Today is also World Alzheimer's Day.

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