Steve Gagne

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Posts posted by Steve Gagne

  1. --Brant

    Agreed. Human nature in this context is mis-defined.

    NIOF, while a desirable corollary of individual sovereignty, is not actually the basis for a valid moral system, only a derivative principle. After recognition of the existence of life, a more central principle of human nature is that life must *continue*. This is measured by the continuation, not of the individual, but of a *population* of individuals, one that includes reproduction counteracting the ongoing death (extinction) of the individuals. The smallest population is not the individual, but the *family*, consisting of a minimum of one fertile male human, plus one fertile female human, plus any generations they produce. Without this, there is no human race, no human nature to discuss. The fundamental principle here is not a societally-induced definition of not stepping on each other's toes, but what furthers the survival and the thriving of the family. This includes the initiation of necessary paternalistic (or maternalistic) force against any and all for the protection of the progeny.

    NIOF works for the atomized individual who has already chosen extinction, but it is incompatible with one who chooses the continuation of life.

    Yikes! I can't work this out. Restraining your daughter from dashing over the road, is initiation of force?!

    So NIOF doesn't apply to a family, only "atomized individuals"?

    The family chooses continuation of life, the individual, extinction...

    This is surely not libertarian, is it? (of course not O'ism).

    I agree with the first sentence that NIOF is derivative (actually, of the right to life), not a base for morality, but why then does the rest not gel with that?

    Several years ago I realized I was not really some free-spirited libertine libertarian, but in fact, a stodgy old stick-in-the-mud conservative. So, no. Not Oist, Not Libertarian. But not brainwashed, either.

    Yes, restraining one's children or other family members from harming themselves can include the initiation of force, a violation of NIOF. So can stopping and preventing others from harming them.

    The family doesn't "choose" continuance, nor does the individual "choose" extinction. It is just a fact. Everyone dies. But your life did not come into being in a vacuum, ex nihilo. There is a chain of life dating back to your first ancestors, your family, that made your life possible. If your life is a value, then so is that chain of life that brought it into being. You do not have a choice as to whether you will die, but you do have a choice as to whether to continue that chain of life, whether you will be one of the grandfathers to the next seven generations. Your choices become your valuation and validation of that chain of life, and those of your own life within it as well.

    Most people live so that they can see backward two generations, to their grandparents, or forward two generations to their grandchildren. This, too, is part of our nature. And it indicates the truth that we do not replace our parents but our grandparents, and we are replaced, not by our children, but by our grandchildren. So how many fertile kids we have is irrelevant, as long as the number is greater than zero. In order to maintain a population, we need to have enough grandchildren to replace ourselves. But each grandchild has four different grandparents, so in an ideal world, population maintenance requires four grandchildren, shared amongst the four grandparents; as there will always be those who cannot or will not reproduce, a more realistic number would be FIVE grandchildren.

    (Likewise our parents replaced our great-grandparents and are replaced by our children; our children will in turn be replaced by our great-grandchildren. Two separate chains, interwoven, skipping every other generation. Nonetheless, the rule of FIVE holds.)

    After our grandchildren? Well, by that point, we're usually beyond the point where we can judge or act; we have been replaced; we are irrelevant; we are dead. But until that point, we of course wield whatever familial moral authority we have.

  2. Steve--

    That's what I learned in high school. I still find it plausible. But do we need Objectivism to (re-)discover the truth of this view?

    Arkadi, you may not need Oism to ANSWER the questions, but among Locke, Tucker, Rand, and Rothbard, you're at least getting the questions ASKED. But they're NOT asking ALL the questions.

    For example, the retired multi-billionaire arbitrageur Warren Mosler addresses the history and nature of money, and shows that virtually all the historians and all the philosophers throughout history have gotten it all wrong. Money is not a medium of exchange. Money is neither value nor a store of value. Money is not private property. What money is made out of is irrelevant to its use. It's value is derived by the mark placed on it by a parasitic GOVERNMENTAL SOVEREIGN, and it is only a "scoreboard" for controlling (and feeding off) the productive people in society. And the scorekeeper never runs out of points.

    So, once we get past the semantics of the "Locke v. Tucker" discussion of the nature of property, i.e., rights in res vs. rights in action, we have to look at the subject of trade, WHO is doing it, HOW, and WHY. I am refocusing the WHY from NIOF-based short-term individual self-interest to long-term non-extinction of the smallest human population, the family. But that just scratches the surface.

    Once we settle the subject of progeny and property, it must be understood that they need to be protected. This is where the first ideas of government arise, within the family. And the responsibility for this falls on the shoulders of the parents, and anyone they ask to help. Ultimately, in spite of the claims of those who support the "proposition state", government only represents the interests of parents and responsible kinfolk (a tribe). A government can only rule over ONE people, not an agglomeration of unrelated individuals. This is why new members of a society must be assimilated, through cultural learning and intermarriage. A nation is based on kinship bonds. Our 2nd president, John Adams understood this, and advocated intermarriage of former colonists with the Native Americans (NDNs).

    Ancap paradises have actually existed throughout the worlds cultures, under patriarchal/matriarchal guidance, many times crushed by nations run by tyrants and bullies. Sometimes they are destroyed from within, by rebellion by those not directly represented by the parental leadership.

    A f'rinstance of the former were the matriarchal clan-based societies of NDNs, until they were out-bred and overrun by European immigrants.

    A f'rinstance of the latter is recorded in one of the oldest history texts, the Jewish TaNaCh, known to Christians as the Old Testament. For over 200 years (c.1250 BC to c.1050 BC), the tribes of ancient Israel, all descendants of the patriarch Abraham, had lived as an ancap paradise, without government, ruled by patriarchal guidance and free trade, with no imposed currency. After 200 years, there was an alienation that occurred, resulting in a rebellion against established moral authority. As recorded in the book of first Samuel, chapter 8, the young men came to call for the anointing of a king, in rebellion against their own traditions. The moral authority, the prophet Samuel, proceeded to explain to them how a king would be a tyrant, enslaving them; the king would be a parasite, taking their best of everything. But when they would not back down, Samuel relented and chose Saul of the vicious tribe of Benjamin as their first king. They knew nothing but taxes, war, and/or subservience from that day forward, just as Samuel predicted.

    You can bemoan how "impractical" these ancap societies, ruled by moral authority of the family, were, but note that, except for the U.S. Government Empire Corporation, none of the victors over these societies still exist, either.

    So, going back to your O/P, the needs of government in a proposition state or under a tyrant are equal, resulting in the initiation of force against the individual to deprive him of some modicum of value, to be converted to the use of some individuals in government. Voluntarism in this context is irrelevant; the power to tax is the power to kill.

    But in the context of a nation based on kinship, the needs of government are one's own & one's family's needs, Compulsion is irrelevant; blood is thicker than water.

  3. Treat others as you wish them to treat you, including with respect, courtesy, empathy, friendliness, non-criminality, and non-tyranny. This applies to low-life mass men and high-quality noble souls.

    That which you would have others do unto you, you are ALREADY doing to them likewise.


  4. Thanks. Have had no chance to read it yet, but did have a chance to meet quite a few anti-taxation (and so anti-government) Objectivists.

    Perhaps I'm asking too much, but if it is possible to state briefly how non-anarchism is compatible with NIOF principle, I would appreciate it.

    Anarchism isn't compatible with human needs and nature which is why you can't really find it. It's quite useless therefore to discuss the compatibility of "non-anarchism" with NIOF. We have and will have government. There's no displacing it as such--only replacing it with some other governance, which in turn will initiate force to some extent. Both Objectivism and (libertarian) anarchy posits perfection hanging off the NIOF political-moral principle. Between the two the honesty is with the anarchists. The basic problem, however, is the impracticality of the utopian state. A personal Utopia might be possible, not a societal one unless it's quite small.


    Agreed. Human nature in this context is mis-defined.

    NIOF, while a desirable corollary of individual sovereignty, is not actually the basis for a valid moral system, only a derivative principle. After recognition of the existence of life, a more central principle of human nature is that life must *continue*. This is measured by the continuation, not of the individual, but of a *population* of individuals, one that includes reproduction counteracting the ongoing death (extinction) of the individuals. The smallest population is not the individual, but the *family*, consisting of a minimum of one fertile male human, plus one fertile female human, plus any generations they produce. Without this, there is no human race, no human nature to discuss. The fundamental principle here is not a societally-induced definition of not stepping on each other's toes, but what furthers the survival and the thriving of the family. This includes the initiation of necessary paternalistic (or maternalistic) force against any and all for the protection of the progeny.

    NIOF works for the atomized individual who has already chosen extinction, but it is incompatible with one who chooses the continuation of life.

  5. "Who is Brian Williams?"

    I thought I heard he was a reporter for NBC? But I haven't watched any NBC or CBS since 1993, so he and any others there are non-entities. Fox was gone for me by 1999. ABC and PBS were gone a couple of years ago.

    Gave up on cable & satellite in 1986, so none of that. Just a few straggly little local stations that broadcast community events and "Know Your Local Sexual Predators" ... interspersed with pictures of the Sheriff (HA!).

    Most of my news sources were foreign starting in the late 1990's ... but that was only until September of ... what ... 2010? 2011? ... when all my international internet requests started getting routed to a page that stated, "Welcome to the United States Library of Congress. Your request has been blocked pending further investigation." Until I forgot what the links were that I had been using.

    Now all I get is RT America. (Russia Today). The liberal editorial bent is not exactly my cup of tea, but it does have Ben Swann and Larry King, as well as some interesting lesser lights.

    "Who is Brian Williams?"






    "Who cares?"

  6. Wolf --

    Given current and near-term technologies, there is no realistic alternative to a hydrocarbon technology base.

    Americans have already proven to be the only ones who have the tech to contain a nuclear meltdown, and even that was "iffy". A nuclear world, even with the portable low-yield Korean nuclear plants, is neither desirable nor yet possible.

    Widespread spray-on solar coatings being developed at the University of Florida are many years away from commercial application.

    Environmental concerns of wind fields (massive wildlife kills, ELF) are not even being addressed. Not to mention the astroturf protests stifling these projects and the research to improve them.

    There are not enough known tech metal reserves to even consider battery power. There is only enough lithium to replace 4-10% of the world's current energy needs, let alone those of the future. Even if we look at vanadium to telescope the efficiency of lithium, most of the known reserves are in China (which has put an embargo on tech metal exports) and Greenland (which mining is illegal under Danish law, due to the admixture of uranium and radium in all known tech metal deposits). There is a little in South Africa, but not enough to be used as anything but a local solution for South Africans. And there is a little in Australia & outlying islands, which carries an entirely different significance. I will get to that.

    More importantly, since the beginning of recorded history, there have been "climate shifts" on average of every 650 years. Ocean currents change, jet streams change, and the weather changes. These are natural changes due to sun cycles, rather than anthropogenic. When these occur, there are droughts, food sources dry up in one area or another, and the people affected move on to greener pastures. When these migrations occur, if there's someone already there, to where they are moving, it accounts for most wars and movements of history. There are victor & vanquished, and a new phase begins. This change is a natural cycle, of which the last one occurred around the year 1300. We are overdue.

    There are doom-and-gloom prophets, decrying rising oceans and the destruction of civilization. Within the group, there are many contradictions in their assertions. This is because not one of them truly wishes to address any "problems", but each seeks to profit from a manufactured crisis. If you don't have the greenies and their coercive government programs, you have Gazprom stockholders trying to trash-talk the competition. Either way, they play to the same false narrative of "peak oil".

    And it IS a false narrative. And I say this , because it is true. There is no shortage of fossil fuels. Actually, except for (maybe) coal, there is no such thing as fossil fuels at all.

    We're all taught in elementary school about the ancient tropical paradise of the dinosaurs and ferns and palm fronds, and ponds, and sudden death, and tar pits, and continental folds, and sedimentation, and all that other happy horse pucky. And we are told that this is the cause of oil and gas deposits. The thing is, these things are NOT the source of petroleum and natural gas. (I honestly haven't paid much attention to coal.)

    Petroleum and natural gas are the natural byproduct of anaerobic bacteria that consume crustal methane (which is continually being released due to geologic activity), and they excrete petroleum and natural gas. These bacteria have been isolated; there are companies under contract with the US government to produce part of the fuel for our armed forces, duplicating this natural process. As this is an ongoing process, there is actually more petroleum and natural gas available today than there was at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    At this point, current known US hydrocarbon reserves, if extracted, would be enough to provide energy (at projected levels) to the whole world for the next c.800 years (200-250 years coal, 450-500 years oil/gas). As those deposits would be GROWING during that time, it would be expected that the US could power the whole world for the next millenium -- 1000 years.

    But that is predicated on having a functional US economy. This is where it gets interesting.

    In the '70's President Richard Nixon took the US off the international gold standard, established at Bretton Woods during WW II, to prevent inflationary wardollars and petrodollars from bankrupting Fort Knox. (Whether he was successful is another story.) A negotiated agreement among developed nations included concept of a "basketful of currencies", convertible into US Federal Reserve dollars. As smaller national economies grew, they joined into the group that endorsed this agreement, making the dollar the world's reserve currency. The fact is, all members to this agreement must make their currencies convertible into Federal Reserve dollars.

    The reverse is not the case. US dollars are not convertible to other currencies on demand. Any account denominated in dollars is on deposit with the Federal Reserve, but you can't spend it anywhere that is not under control of the Federal Reserve. { Ferenghi 1st Rule of Acquisition: "Once you get their money, you don't EVER give it back!" } And those dollars you have are just electronic "blips" in the Federal Reserve computers -- they do not represent real values. Those computers are just giant electonic "scoreboards", like at sports events, and our dollars are the "score". And the scorekeeper never runs out of points.

    We've had this system in place domestically since 1933, and internationally since 1971. And that system is what has actually isolated us from the kind of harrowing economic swings experienced by countries such as Argentina and Russia. But that era could be drawing to a close.

    In the last few years, a conference of 5 countries has been attempting to set up a new "basket of currencies", sponsored by economies with gold-based currencies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (B.R.I.C.S.). They agreed to this in principle about two to two-and-a-half years ago, naming it the "BRICS Convention". The first practical application of this was sealed this past week, when Russia and China signed a treaty to do a direct exchange of their own (gold) currencies, and to eliminate as intermediary the US dollar, which has accounted for c.75% of the trade between the two countries.

    This eliminates both countries' needs to have dollars.

    Rinse & repeat -- what happens a few years down the road? A few defections here, a few defections there, after a few years, the US dollar does not hold up as the reserve currency any longer. We have to start trading for goods to get foreign currencies to do our trade & keep our economy going. How? We don't produce anything besides lawyers and arbitrageurs and worthless derivative economic instruments! So, under this scenario, our nation and economy will be reduced to nothing more than a banana republic, our resources owned by foreigners. We don't even grow our own food, so the first blip in oil supplies could shut down transport, resulting in food shortages in all developed areas inside of three days, food riots, etc. etc. etc.

    But I digress.

    There are many who see that scenario happening, but I see it differently. Whereas there are those who regard the BRICS nations as an inexorable threat, they have chinks in their armor. (Defects, not chinese people.) The Chinese are going through their own recession right now, and are feeling the negative effects of their own policies. India is falling back into a tribal/caste mentality, and may not be able to hold the center. Brazil needs our continuing help to develop their (and Nigeria's) resources. South Africa is descending into race war. And Russia, well, they are becoming the unwitting pariah of western civ. Not exactly a coalition of giants, in spite of their current places on the world stage.

    In the last two years, something has been happening in Australia. Back to Australia.

    I mentioned how we could supply the whole world's energy needs for a millenium. New discoveries in southern Australuia have shown that Australia has three times (3 X) the amount of hydrocarbon deposits we do, dwarfing every country and region in the whole world. And they have no compunctions about developing these resources. They have thrown out the greenies from government, repealed the carbon tax laws, and are going full-bore on development.

    Australia is about to become the world's economic and energy powerhouse.

    And they are going to get everything that goes with it, including our "reserve currency" status, and control of the whole world.

  7. I dunnnnooooo Ba'al the IDF is pretty badass I don't think they got the memo!

    I was referring to times past. At present only Orthodox Jews (a minority of a minority) believe in the Chosen People nonsense.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    And Catholics and Evangelicals -- like only, say 1/4 of the world's population

  8. Technical debates are always fun to mix into, especially when all you have is a smattering of the jargon, and no real understanding of the issues.

    But as far as this "campaign" goes the NCAI (National Congress of American Indians, the "Uncle Tomahawk" of native American civil rights groups) put together a propaganda film for badmouthing the "Redskins" as a team name, to be aired during the Super Bowl. No-one was willing to pay for the airtime. Why? I suggest that all investigate the native American comedy group, the 1491s to find out why. Their TEDx talk was especially revealing.

    Of course the arguments are all crap. "Redskins" and "Red Indians" were actually only one nation of native Americans: the Beothuk. They had intermarried with the Viking explorers over a millenium ago, and thus were fairer-skinned than other tribes, and more subject to sunburns. To deal with this, they would strip down to the buff, and smear their bodies with ochre and cranberries, dyeing their skin red, using it like a modern suntan lotion. Of course, this made war parties more fun, too, coming out looking like a bunch of red demons & scaring their enemies half to death. These were the only true redskins. Should this really be considered a racial epithet?

    Apropos of this technique, let us also remember how William Wallace and the Scots would strip themselves down to the buff and smear blueberries on their skin, dyeing their skin blue. This made their raids on the English more fun too, a bunch of blue men mooning the Brits and scaring them half to death.

    Hey, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Redskins should not change their name until the Blue Man Group ends their heinous racial attack on the Scots, by changing their name too.

  9. I am having a problem here. How can there be Christian -Objectivism-. The major premise of Christianity is that Christ sacrificed himself for the remission of our sins. Such an act is maximally altruistic. How does one resolve this perplexity?

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    Let C be the set of Christian ideas. Let O be the set of Objectivist ideas. Then Christian Objectivism or Objectivist Christainity is the intersection of set C and set O. Perhaps this is a null set.

    In addition Christianity is poisoned by the concept of Original Sin. That pernicious meme colors ALL of Christianity.

    Ba'al Chatzaf

    C'mon Bob. Original Sin = Failure to Choose Human Consciousness. Not hard to understand. If you don't think that that is pretty much a universal, look around you.

    As far as Jesus' sacrifice, he looked at the world around him and said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you. How often would I have gathered your children together, as the hen gathers her chicks under her wing, and you would not! Behold, your home is left unto you desolate!" He saw a world where everyone was caught in a cycle of being victims and victimizers in turn, and told the people that if they felt they absolutely had to make a sacrifice, then let it be Him, the Son of Adam, that the sacrifice of ANY Son of Adam, of any human being was that final, ultimate, infinite sacrifice, the end of any and all human sacrifices. Otherwise, henceforth their home would be left unto them desolate.

    This is not a call to Ayn Rand's Altruist straw man, but a call to empowerment against all forces oppression and evil in the world.

  10. We had this discussion when the original obamacare vote happened. Nothing has changed since then.

    Insurance companies are still a species of banking corporation, and corporations (especially the banksters) are still collectivist organizations formed as organs of the state. The insurance oligopoly has had continuous legal protection since 1945, as has the allopathic medical profession since 100 years earlier. None of this reflects a free-market model, and fighting the single-payer model under current circumstances amounts to little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Bon voyage.



    Saint Peter's Basilica

    Monday, 24 December 2012

    Dear Brothers and Sisters!

    Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

    I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writer’s almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them?

    And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11). The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself?

    We begin to do so when we have no time for God. The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the “God hypothesis” becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so “full” of ourselves that there is no room left for God.

    And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger. By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves. The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.

    There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God’s glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of God’s truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.

    Linked to God’s glory on high is peace on earth among men. Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either.

    Nowadays, though, widespread currents of thought assert the exact opposite: they say that religions, especially monotheism, are the cause of the violence and the wars in the world. If there is to be peace, humanity must first be liberated from them. Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone. Now it is true that in the course of history, monotheism has served as a pretext for intolerance and violence. It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property. We must be on the lookout for these distortions of the sacred. While there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If God’s light is extinguished, man’s divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be God’s image, to which we must pay honour in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if God’s light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be. On this Holy Night, God himself became man; as Isaiah prophesied, the child born here is “Emmanuel”, God with us (Is 7:14). And down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God who became man. Into the darkness of sin and violence, this faith has shone a bright ray of peace and goodness, which continues to shine.

    So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practise violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people “with whom you are pleased” – people according to your image and thus people of peace.

    Once the angels departed, the shepherds said to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened for us (cf. Lk 2:15). The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem, the Evangelist tells us (cf. 2:16). A holy curiosity impelled them to see this child in a manger, who the angel had said was the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The great joy of which the angel spoke had touched their hearts and given them wings.

    Let us go over to Bethlehem, says the Church’s liturgy to us today. Trans-eamus is what the Latin Bible says: let us go “across”, daring to step beyond, to make the “transition” by which we step outside our habits of thought and habits of life, across the purely material world into the real one, across to the God who in his turn has come across to us. Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.

    Let us go over to Bethlehem: as we say these words to one another, along with the shepherds, we should not only think of the great “crossing over” to the living God, but also of the actual town of Bethlehem and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered. Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land. Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom. Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbours: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God’s peace.

    The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.

    © Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

    from the Vatican website