Justice & Silent Night's Forgotten Lyrics
Paul Coughlin is a former newspaper editor and is the author of numerous books, including the No More Christian Nice Guy, and Raising Bully-Proof Kids. He is the Founder of The Protectors: Freedom From Bullying—Courage, Character & Leadership for Life, (www.theprotectors.org), which provides a values-based and faith-based program that combats the cruelty of adolescent bullying in schools, summer camps, Sunday School, and other places where bullying is prevalent.
He is a popular speaker who has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, 700 Club, Focus on the Family, C-SPAN, The LA Times, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord with Jim Burns, The New York Times, Newsweek and other media outlets. He is a regular keynote speaker with Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences.
His freedom-from-bullying program is used by hundreds throughout North America as well as in England, Australia, Uganda, New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa. The Protector’s has partnered with Saddleback Church’s Justice & Trafficking Initiative in creating the first-ever Justice Begins on the Playground seminar that helps both faith-based and values-based organizations diminish bullying.
He is a Boys Varsity Soccer Coach in Southern Oregon, where he was voted Coach of the Year twice, and where he is also a member of the Board of Trustees. He and his wife Sandy have three teenagers and live in Medford, Oregon. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2012 Dec 27
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
While singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve this week in church, I was startled by the words above. Like you, I've been singing this song all my life--how did I fail to see them before? But given the recent tragedies we've absorbed as a nation, this year they got my attention.
Of course the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was more than tragic. It was also evil. We are familiar with the expression: Evil targets the vulnerable. What we tend to overlook is that it also wants those with the power to help to remain on the sideline: dismayed, fooled, and cynical regarding any substantial opposition and solution. But as this beloved song reminds us, justice as well as love is part of God's nature, a part of his nature and an aspect of our faith that we sometimes forget. I was reminded of it this connection while singing this beloved song, and how in His name oppression should cease.
It is not an exaggeration to say that targets of ongoing bullying, similar to those ensnared by the international sex trade, are enslaved and oppressed as well. What is a stumbling block to some is the nature of their oppression. It is slower-moving and less obvious. It's an oppression that gives the illusion of freedom. But it's real, as this mother's recent plea for help from The Protectors reveals:
My son has hemophilia. He is 10 years old at a Christian school. In 3rd grade, he was bullied so badly by another child that he actually wrote a letter to his teacher stating he wished he were dead. He became a recluse and refused to eat. Was mad all the time and wouldn't talk. The school counselled my son and the bully separately but it did not work.
This year he is being bullied verbally, emotionally, and now physically by the majority of students in his class. He has no self-esteem. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist. I worry constantly that he is going to kill himself. He sobbed to me for hours tonight and I still have not been able to get him to eat.
I want my son back. He is an amazing kid. I purposefully put him in a Christian private school so that the attention would be more focused on school, rather than sports, which he cannot do due to his bleeding disorder. Ironically, his "weakness" is what started all the constant harassment from other students. I need someone to take this seriously. It is killing me watching my son so totally miserable.
Please don't turn away from the deeper meaning of this mother's plea, because though it's painful to read it also reveals the path back toward peace, love and justice. What we need to see as people of faith is that no matter what this young boy does (and hundreds of thousands like him in America alone), he will not obtain justice and freedom on his own. See how even Christian schools need help combatting this intentional form of abuse that can be so difficult to spot without outside help? He needs protective intervention, which is our specialty. That's the good news for the rest of us. We get the privilege of being God's hands, feet, arms and hands in his life.
With only five days left in our campaign to raise the funds necessary to best create our Hero in You Faith-Based Anti-Bullying Program, which brings His gospel of peace to so many, we ask that you act now. This is the ideal resource for this boy, his family, and so many just like them across the country and across the world. Together, we can break the chains that bind so many.
And as Joseph, a recent contributor to this campaign, wrote, this campaign is a great way to grow and spread our faith. "Let’s put action to our faith…bullying is a real problem everywhere and this program is something all Christians should support and stand behind."