There was a time when men were kind,

And their voices were soft,

And their words inviting.

There was a time when love was blind,

And the world was a song,

And the song was exciting.

There was a time when it all went wrong ...

I dreamed a dream in time gone by,

When hope was high and life, worth living.

I dreamed that love would never die,

I dreamed that God would be forgiving.

Then I was young and unafraid,

And dreams were made and used and wasted.

There was no ransom to be paid,

No song unsung, no wine, untasted.

But the tigers come at night,

With their voices soft as thunder,

As they tear your hope apart,

And they turn your dream to shame ...

And still I dream ...

... But there are dreams that cannot be,

And there are storms we cannot weather!

I had a dream my life would be ...

... So different now from what it seemed ...

These lyrics from "Les Miserables" sing out a warning of what could overtake us if we do not embrace the true spirit of what we are about.

I am not trying to be depressing but only wondering ...

When did it happen that words we once would not use became commonplace on TV? And subjects that we would not think to broadcast into public sight and hearing became common fare on even the major networks? And when did Sunday become a day only for participating in sports or watching our favorite teams? And when did Christmas become a shoppers' paradise?

Even though we might not have changed from what we believe and practice, our world has shifted. The giving thanks of Thanksgiving was seemingly obscured by all the hoopla for shopping on Black Friday for Christmas.

The spirit of Christmastime is overrun with merchandising sentiments and "more is more." When did this happen and why? Were we sleeping?

The following lyrics are to me a sad commentary on how we approach this beautiful day of Christ's birth that should bring hope and peace for all mankind. Written by the musical group Casting Crowns, the words were brought to my attention in song by a very special, insightful friend:

While we were sleeping, Oh little town of Bethlehem,

Looks like another silent night.

Above your deep and dreamless sleep a giant star lights up the sky

And while you're lying in the dark there shines an everlasting light.

For the king has left his throne and is sleeping in a manger tonight, tonight.

Oh, Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping.

For God became a man and stepped into your world today.

Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history as a city with no room for its King,

While you were sleeping; while you were sleeping.

Oh little town of Jerusalem looks like another silent night.

The Father gave His only Son: The Way, the Truth, the Life had come

But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save.

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping.

The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today.

Jerusalem, you will go down in history as a city with no room for its King.

While you were sleeping; while you were sleeping.

United States of America looks like another silent night

As we are sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children

And while we're lying in the dark there's a shout heard

'cross the eastern sky for the Bridegroom has returned

and has carried His bride away in the night, in the night, in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping;

Will Jesus come again and leave us slumbering where we lay?

America, will we go down in history as a nation with no room for its King

Will we be sleeping; will we be sleeping?

United States of America looks like another silent night.

These are beautiful songs with undertones of sadness and regret. But we can make it different. As we anticipate our new year approaching, let us not be caught unaware and asleep.

Let us not only dream but work to make our dreams come true and stay alert to the true meaning of our lives.

Let us not silence our voices in what is mistaken as political correctness nor fail to rise in protest of the small majority that tries to dictate what beliefs we can profess publicly.

We cannot be caught sleeping. If so, we will risk losing our identity of what America is meant to be and the true meaning of Christmas.

Ruth Moriarity is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.