24 December 2013

War on Christmas

It has come to my attention that some segments of the population truly believe that there is some kind of war being waged against Christmas. There are some who think we are trying to take Christ out of Christmas and that we, as a whole, are trying to diminish His role in the holiday season. They truly believe there is a grand conspiracy to destroy Christmas.

Not two months ago, many of these same people were posting messages and missives about how Christmas was being trotted out too early. That they were frustrated by Christmas displays alongside Back-to-School or Halloween decorations. Christmas is starting to come earlier and earlier, at least as far as decorating and sales are concerned. Give it time and we'll have Christmas extravaganzas in March.

So why the passionate missives, 'clever' memes regarding Jesus being the "reason for the season", angry letters and even fake news stories about lights being banned, cards being barred, and Christmas being cancelled? Where is all of this coming from?

It's simple really. For many years in this country, the only opinions and beliefs that were considered valid were those of the ruling class. And before anyone gets touchy, we do have those who govern us... whether we will it or not. If you doubt this, ask yourself how much you love the current president... or the former. The ruling class for many years was made up, almost entirely, of white, Christian males.

These white Christian males made policies. These white Christian males set the standards by which everyday life was lived. These white Christian males made life very difficult for those who were not white, Christian males. African-Americans were marginalised, as were women, and other religions? If you were acknowledged at all (such as those of the Jewish faith) you were largely treated with disrespect or derided for being different, if not outright slain. Your holy days were not considered when policies were made, or when "holidays" were allotted.

No one is saying that Christians should not celebrate, nor is anyone declaring that Christians cannot or should not say Merry Christmas. We are not making laws against making lovely displays that recognize and revere their faith. Heck, it is still actively encouraged! There are contests and prizes for the best displays, nationwide!

However, times have changed. No longer are we, as a country, happy with marginalising large segments of the population. There is not a war on Christmas. What IS happening is that we are recognising that our country does contain populations that are not white, Christian, and male. We are beginning to understand that not everyone believes as we do. And with that acknowledgment come changes in language and changes in practice.

There are some who are offended because we allow these traditions to exist. There are some who believe that non-Christians should disappear, be thrown out of the country, or just sit quietly and shut up - never mentioning our existence because, in their eyes, we don't count. They actually believe that, by merely acknowledging that other religions, beliefs, and practices exist - it somehow demeans their own beliefs. They think, that by admitting there are people who do not celebrate as they do, they are taking a shot at their own faith.

To this I say, rubbish. Your faith is a reflection of you and you alone. It is your testament to God. It is your personal relationship and NO ONE can take that from you. Ever. You keep Christ in Christmas; you keep Jesus in your heart and remember him this time of year. You celebrate as you see fit, go to Church, and if I see you on the street - I will wish you Merry Christmas with a bright smile on my face and sincerity in my heart.

This does not make any other person’s belief less valid. It does not mean that they should have to remain silent about their own traditions, their own faith, and their own values. Their belief is not an attack on you, Jesus, or Christmas. It is merely their belief. They are celebrating the season as they see fit and how it works in their home and family.

They don't demand you celebrate with them, but it is a reflection of changing times that these differences are recognised. That is all. It's not an attack to admit that there are people in our glorious nation that believe differently than you. It is not an act of war to include those different beliefs during this time of year.

I served our great nation for six years. I stood in defense of our beliefs, values, and our very way of life. I served alongside Christians, Pagans, Jews, Muslims, Shintos, and others. We all sought to defend our way of life. Do the rights we protected only apply to some people? Are those non-Christians who made the ultimate sacrifice, and died for this country, dying in vain? Or dying to defend rights and considerations that should not be afforded to them, but only to Christians?

I would certainly hope not. I would hope that we, as a country, recognize that our rights and the Constitution apply to everyone. We should all be allowed to practice, celebrate, and be who we are without it being viewed as an attack. Our existence is not a deliberate slight against God or Christmas. We don't want to take Christmas away from you, we promise. We just want to celebrate our own holiday and maybe, just maybe, have it be known that we matter too. Maybe we want to feel like we, too, are important and part of our own country.

The country was founded upon religious freedom. That freedom of religion means every religion, not just yours or ones with which you agree. We are all part of the whole and our differences are what make our country so unique and so wonderful.

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday. I hope you all celebrate with joy in your hearts and feel the peace of the season. Happy Yule, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice... and yes...

Merry Christmas. May we all be blessed.


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