What I Want for Christmas
This speech by Robert G. Ingersoll was printed in 1897, and is as fresh today as ever. Unfortunately Ingersoll has not yet gotten his Christmas wish, but perhaps this next year we can get a bit closer to attaining it.
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS.
If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next
Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow
the people to govern themselves.
I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their
lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his
tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not
acting for God — is not infallible — but is just an ordinary
Italian. I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops,
priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology,
nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the
human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would
have them tell all their “flocks” to think for themselves, to be
manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to
increase the sum of human happiness.
I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers
in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree
that they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm
off guesses as demonstrated truths.
I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen,
— to men who long to make their country great and free, — to men
who care more for public good than private gain — men who long to
be of use.
I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines
agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all
slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of
the people alone.
I would like to see drunkenness and prohibition both
I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in
every home, in every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and
prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and
I would like to see the millionaires unite and form a trust
for the public good.
I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital
and labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little
June with the December of his life.
I would like to see an international court established in
which to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be
disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect
I would like to see the whole world free — free from
injustice — free from superstition.
This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I
may want more.
The Arena, Boston, December 1897.