That’s it then. Another year tucked away in the memory treasure chest and nothing we can now do to change what we have already done for better or for worse. I’m sure we have all had our triumphs and maybe an unfair share of failures or the bitter garnish of loss. But 2015 is over now, or, depending on where you live, soon will be over. So, time to step forward with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s New Year inspiration and challenge:
“Ring out wild bells, to the wild sky/The flying cloud, the frosty light, The year is dying in the night; / Ring out wild bell’s and let him die.
“Ring out the old, ring in the new, / Ring happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; / Ring out the false, ring in the true.
“Ring out the grief that saps the mind, / For those that here we see no more, / Ring out the feud of rich and poor, / Ring in redress to all mankind.
“Ring out a slowly dying cause, / And ancient forms of party strife; / Ring in the nobler modes of life, / With sweeter manners, purer laws.
“Ring out the want, the care the sin, / The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in.
“Ring out false pride in place and blood, / The civic slander and the spite; / Ring in the love of truth and right, / Ring in the common love of good.
“Ring out old shapes of foul disease, / Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; / Ring out the thousand wars of old. /Ring in the thousand years of peace.
“Ring in the valiant man and free, / The larger heart, the kindlier hand; / Ring out the darkness of the land, / Ring in the Christ that is to be.”
You think Tennyson set the bar too high for normal mortals? Come now, read the list thoughtfully and most of his targets are within reach of us all, young or old, strong or weak, rich or poor. We can all, every day, put more emphasis on truth and work to appreciate that some old causes can no longer be justified and should be abandoned.
It is not beyond our strength to strive to eliminate “the want, the care,…..the faithless coldness of the times.” Surely “truth and right with the common love of good” are more desirable and as easy to acquire and hold as “false pride in place and blood” and “civic slander and spite” so prevalent in todays politics and press.
Even if the name of Christ in the last line offends non-Christians, the aim of his teaching to narrow “the lust of gold” while striving to build communities of men and women with “larger hearts and kindlier hands”, shouldn’t.
It may be true that the end of “a thousand wars” to be replaced by “the thousand years of peace” will remain an impossible dream, but it would surely be comforting at the end of the brief time we are allowed on Planet Earth, to know we had tried. And maybe, just maybe, shone a little light “in the darkness of the land” and brought some warmth to “the coldness of our times” as we passed through.