Twenty-four years ago, I would perk up every time this song came on the radio. All the hottest pop singers were there to sing "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I even taped it off the radio and tried to identify each singer as they sang their line. "Band Aid" was a phenomenon, and it was the beginning of a few years of "awareness pop" that swept the airwaves (with "We Are the World" and "Hands Across America" soon to follow). Yeah, it seemed that in no time we would solve the worst problems facing humanity.
Today, George Michael has less hair; Boy George is apparently going to jail for a little bit - again; and Bananarama is nothing but a memory (wait - "Banana-what?"). People continue to die in Africa; the chasm between the rich and the poor continues to widen; and we continue to wonder when it will all end.
Pope Benedict joins us in this struggle. John Allen reports:
Arguing that the current financial crisis illustrates the failures of an economic approach “turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good,” Pope Benedict XVI today insisted that the struggle against “the cruel forces of poverty” must be the heart of any effort to promote global peace.
Facing chronic poverty, Benedict appealed for a sense of moral outrage: “Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world’s poor will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world, and by the concomitant violations of human rights,” he wrote.
Among other things, Benedict denounced escalating expenditures on weapons, called for greater attention to a mounting global food crisis, and insisted that efforts to curb child poverty in particular represent an urgent priority.
The comments came in Benedict’s annual message for the World Day of Peace, observed by the Catholic church on Jan. 1. The theme for the pope’s message this year is “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace.”
The message was presented this morning in a Vatican news conference.
Benedict stressed that he was not calling simply for new structures or policy measures, as important as they are, but also personal conversion.
“We often consider only the superficial and instrumental causes of poverty without attending to those harbored within the human heart, like greed and narrow vision,” he wrote. “What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development.”
Benedict argued that the mounting global financial crisis reveals a lack of sensitivity to the common good.
"Personal conversion" for the "common good." It's a call to awareness, and in that awareness we are called to act - not just to make ourselves feel better, to assuage our conscience, but to make others feel better: clean water, adequate food, stable governing structures, and just sharing of the world's resources. "Do they know it's Christmas?" They will - as long as we know it.