AABP Award 728x90

Santa’s sad this year


The best Christmas card of the year, at home and at work, came from Chet Guinn, one of the inaugural winners of Cityview’s Central Iowa Activist Awards presented in the fall. It’s got a picture of a sad – broken-hearted might be a better word – Santa drawn by his daughter, Sandra Guinn-Cavanaugh, who teaches art in Denver, Colo. The verse Chet penned is equally poignant:

“Jolly old Saint Nick, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle

symbolizes the hope and joy of the Christmas story.

Anyone dedicated to bringing happiness to children

must feel deeply the hurts of suffering children.

My daughter, Sandra Guinn-Cavanaugh,

caught this sensitive side of Santa brooding

about how children in the Middle East

are bearing the brunt of our warring madness.

‘America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.'”

(from ‘America the Beautiful,’ Katharine Lee Bates, 1904)

When Chet talks about peace – or lack thereof – I listen. Integrity ought to be his middle name. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more uncorrupted heart than his, nor a purpose more pure. He’s made peace and justice for all – not just Christians, but Muslims, Islams and people of all faiths – his life’s work.

His card arrived the day after the nation erupted in near hysteria over the capture of Saddam Hussein. I wondered what Chet thought. The good news, he says, is that Saddam was captured alive, not slaughtered as his two sons were. But there’s bad news, too.

“I deplore the hysterical demands that primitive vengeance be administered,” he says, explaining his support for a tribunal guided by international law so Saddam can be given a fair trial.

He further explains: “‘Fair’ includes allowing him to tell all, including the naming of persons, corporations and nations that assisted him in his crimes and supplied him with the chemical weapons of mass destruction he employed more than a decade ago. If justice is to be served and peace advanced, international law must be applied without exception.”

You get the idea where he’s going. “Do I believe the government of the most powerful nation in the world will support a fair trial?” he asks, then answers his own question. “No. Unfortunately, ‘might makes right’ is the operative ethical principle for our government now firmly controlled by the military-industrial complex.”

Lots of people would point to President Bush’s increasing poll numbers – up to 58 percent in the CBS News/New York Times poll conducted Dec. 14-15 from an all-time low of 49 percent a month earlier – and say Chet Guinn is naïve, or that he and other peace activists are pro-Saddam.

They’re not. When they say they want peace on Earth, they want it for all world citizens, not just those who practice Christianity and wave a red, white and blue banner.     

hy vee web 090123 300x250