Just a reminder of the enormous possibilities of humans.
On the one hand we have heroes. The employees at the Taj Mahal Hotel who literally took bullets for the guests (here) and women who have lived through the worst I can imagine and work to help other women (here)
On the other hand there are the folks who are willing to stampede into a WalMart at 4am leading the death of a temporary employee (here and here). Then there's shootings at Toy 'R Us.
Humanity certainly is a many splendored thing.
We've got amazing art, architecture, music, sacrifice and then horrific crimes, genocide, apathy, poverty, greed, immense creativity regarding how to kill and harm others, consumption to end all consumption.
Of course, from my perspective, it's worth mentioning that, in many cases, the moments of human triumph and horror, the behavior is propelled by the group. One person doesn't make a stampede. The hotel staff had an ethos of helping.
An interesting discussion of the logic behind the panic of stampede (here) suggests that this idea of never having enough and what happens if we somehow find ourselves without the flat-screen tv is crucial to what's behind these moments of human horror. Is it feeling that we aren't part of the group and that we have to fend for ourselves or we'll be lost and without? That we have to eradicate the others because if we don't they'll take what we want (the worst I've ever been cursed at was when I accidentally "stole" someone's parking space -- we were coming from two different directions and I didn't see her).
What then is the thinking behind the moments of heroism? There is something to the fact that these heroes don't view themselves as heroic as doing that which needs to be done (a sentiment that was shared by many of those who helped during the Holocaust and in the genocide of Rwanda).
It's far easier to understand the moments of human panic and our creativity for hurting others than it is to understand the moments of sacrifice and what we, optimistically and self-flatteringly, call "humanity."
I am going to go out on a limb and say that the staff at the Taj Mahal Hotel, the women in Pakistan exemplify the Christmas spirit far better than the folks at WalMart and Toy R Us and that I could learn a good deal from them.