Despite pastoral greeting cards, uplifting symphonic music and cozy comfort food, many people still struggle to find the peace on earth they hope for at Christmas.
Some seek peace by revisiting traditional religion, at least for a seasonal concert. However, the aural ecstasy of Handel's Messiah may not drown out the oral acridity left from a dose of bad religion administered in childhood. Candlelight and incense cannot make a sanctuary beautiful if it is also filled with messages of self loathing and mortification. Choir robes sometimes cover a heart laden with guilt or even a backside laden with whipmarks.
(I mean the self-inflicted flagellation whipmarks not those administered by a smoking-hot leather-bound Asian woman as God clearly intended.)
Other peace seekers confess their shortcomings to the secular priesthood of shrinks. They pay dearly for a listening ear, an attentive eye, and an affirming voice saying "Find yourself, forgive yourself, accept yourself, hug yourself and pleasure yourself." Yet, the resulting peace is less tangible and often shorter-lived than the therapy bills.
The ancient Jewish scriptures warn, "From dust you are and to dust you will return." This is not a put down (or a compliment to Texans who think coming from a dusty place makes you better). This is an observation of reality. Denying the constant demand of the ridiculous dusty self to be the center of the universe is just good common sense and the only sane course. The self is unqualified for the job it seeks.
Still, finding self worth in looking up rather than putting down isn't the most common human way. All around the globe, cosmetic companies sell skin-whitening potions that exploit old racist insecurity and support old racist pride. Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities regularly endorse these vile products that reject the wisdom of the Divine Artist who painted with a diverse color palette.