A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, December 23, 2007

But Happy Holidays Will Never Hurt Me

There has been some controversy over the last few years about an alleged "war on Christmas". Christians have been rebelling against the political correctness that has overtaken the season and stripped away the meaning of the holiday, i.e., the birth of the Christ child. I was reminded of this conflict when someone forwarded a piece called “A Christmas Poem” to my e-mail.

I am interpreting the poem as borderline satirical. However, many others look at it as an accurate depiction of the holiday under siege. The poem touches on the old adversaries of materialism and greed. Yet there are other parts that seem to blame the current batch of liberals for taking prayer out of schools, even though this is a process that has been ongoing for several decades. The poem concludes with this stanza:

Choose your words carefully,
Choose what you say,

After reading this poem, I e-mailed the sender a message: ”Gee, this poem makes tolerance for other cultures sound like a bad thing.” I ended my message with the smiley face emoticon :-), just to show that I wasn’t taking the whole thing too seriously. Someone else who had received the poem and my response answered with: “On the contrary, we Christians are very tolerant. It’s the others that are intolerant; 'they' don’t want us to say Merry Christmas, 'they' want us to say Happy Holidays."

Well! Clearly, in my efforts to drill for a comment, I had struck a nerve.

I would agree that yes, Christians are taught to be tolerant in theory. Let me repeat that last part, “in theory”. In practice, however, there are many times in world history when we Christians have failed to live up to these ideals. Two events immediately spring to my mind to illustrate my point: The Crusades and The Holocaust. Many young Muslims are now convinced that a second Crusade is being inflicted upon their beliefs. Yes, this is incorrect, but it’s their perception, and frankly, given the events in Iraq during the last few years, it’s a perception that will be a challenge to dispute.

The American evangelical Christian movement has made the concept of political correctness into the work of the devil. Furthermore, the whole movement made itself appear intolerant to other beliefs with their “our-way-or-the-highway” approach during the last thirty years. This attitude is not only self-defeating, but also (dare I say it) anti-Christian.

Political correctness should not be seen as the antithesis of evangelical Christianity. It should be a springboard to spread Christ’s concepts – love, forgiveness and peace – to other cultures. The other cultures could whole-heartedly endorse Christ’s teachings or incorporate the concepts into their own beliefs. It doesn’t matter, as long as everyone can live with one another while respecting each other’s beliefs.

I do not believe for one minute that there is a vast left wing conspiracy against Christianity. Of course the Bill O’Reillys of the world would like to convince us this plot exists, but they only do this to demonize the liberal segment of our society. I don’t blame them for doing this, because this is what they do best. Besides, the liberals get their digs in too, and in the end it all comes out in the wash.

There is no war on Christmas! There are only efforts to recognize that other cultures and beliefs are valid. These efforts should not be seen in any way, shape or form as demeaning to Christianity. Yet, many Christians believe their way of life is threatened by the words “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas”. I realize everyone’s religious faith is important to each one of us, and there’s nothing wrong with having faith. As long as your faith, and the spirit of Christmas is kept in your heart, then the greetings we hear during the holiday season shouldn’t matter.

There are worse things that could happen than to hear the greeting “Happy Holidays”. Given America’s love affair with firearms, the greeter could just as easily pull a gun on us. We should not feel offended at any of these greetings — “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas”, or even “Have a nice day” - if we consider all the possibilities that could occur during the course of daily human interaction. In short, to borrow an old mantra drilled into our heads since childhood, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but ‘Happy Holidays’ will never hurt me.”

Despite my writing all this, I will hedge my bets and say:

“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!”

Or, if you prefer:

“Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to All!”


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