During this holiday season many people seem to have a problem with Christ being forgotten in Christmas and while most who know me know that I am not a fan of any religion, I find myself curiously agreeing with these people. I am fortunate to have what I think are great instincts but I often takes quite a while before I can understand my feelings enough to express them. I am learning to trust them without explanation a little more. Enough to be intuitive but not so much that I am driven by emotion without reason.
So I see fewer manger scenes and must admit this bothers me too. I want the religious symbols but I want them all. I want plenty of menorahs and dreidels. I want the pagan roots of the Christmas tree to be celebrated as well. Our cultural and spiritual customs are good when not taken too seriously. They make life rich. I even create them out of nonsense (Fake Jan Day is coming!). When my son was little it was imperative that I include a manger in with our Christmas decorations so that my son would know that this wasn't Santa Clause's birthday. I also wanted him to be able to celebrate Halloween but that practice was taken away by the very Christian community that I live in. A community which is foolish enough to feel threatened by pagan celebrations so nobody gets to have anything more specific than “Fall festival”. In my opinion that would be better named “PC Bullshit Day”. The idea that we all have to be the same in order to avoid conflict makes as much sense as buying all of your children the same gift so that nobody gets jealous. Do we really have to water life down that much? Are we really that incapable of handling our own human nature?
Well are we?
People are individuals. We also have a sense of wanting to fit in. It is a good balance, we need not mess with it. Individualism need not be feared if it is expressed with some level of responsibility for others. That said, Socialism need not be feared if applied appropriately. We need certain things to form a society. If we had to do everything for ourselves we wouldn't get very far. Try building yourself a car! In our early beginnings we found that we could get far more done if we pooled our talents. This is society, this is social, this is socialism and it's fine.
We also need to be individuals because if we don't have individual talents then what do we have to pool together? What would be the need to listen to another human being? Where would art be if everyone had the same talent? Sadly, there is a bad side to all things. The individual in his desire to be fulfilled becomes greedy and takes from others. Socialism creates frustration because it does not fulfill the individual.
We have shown in this great country of ours that we can have it both ways. We have a blend. We have a successful blend the likes of which has never been seen before. We can combine individual talents to create social structures and we have roads and schools and many examples of socialism working well for us. Sure, all of these systems have also become corrupted and we need to fix that. But for the most part our way of life has worked well and has been adopted by many of the European countries from which we fled.
The greatest example of this freedom of the spirit is our freedom of spiritual practice. What better time to celebrate our ability to have freedom of religion than now during the holidays? To have people of different faiths spreading their own brand of joy should be the greatest thing. Sure some of these holidays are a bit of a stretch to give other cultures something akin to Christmas which is really a Pagan seasonal festival. Undoubtedly their roots are more deeply entrenched in the capitalism of Hallmark than real tradition - but so what? It's still a chance to celebrate in unique and diverse ways.
To claim that any religious symbols are an insult is just plain bad sportsmanship. Most of the intelligent atheists I know do not begrudge the symbols why should they? Well... sometimes they should ...Sometimes we all should. There is a time for religion to be seen as very offensive. That time is when religion crosses the line and gets mixed into our laws.
Then we ALL have something to fear.
The separation of church and state is in my opinion the foundation of this country It is the building block that if taken away makes the whole thing topple. (I know many people incorrectly believe is a Christian nation but I won't go into that here; please show the same restraint) It is profoundly important in keeping the peace and maintaining any freedom of religion. Without that separation you can not andshould not have freedom of religion. Without that separation any religion can, through law, be forced on another person and that is where everything becomes extremely UNHOLY!
As many of you have noticed I do drone on quite a bit about one particular religion. It is not so much the religion that is bothersome, it is that part of the religion that is not a religion at all. It is a political system that gets protected under the premise of being a religion and this is just wrong.
Political Islam represents such a perfect example of what can be wrong with religion. It is a demonstration of where that line is being crossed. It is all about crossing that line. And while the majority of people don't really practice this religion the way it is written, it is still written with the submission of all others in mind. It's very name means “submission”. It is a religion where there is no separation of church and state and it's laws are forced on non believers. There is no better example of what is wrong with religion and what needs to be stopped. I know I come off as a hate monger because I yammer on so much about this. It is not my intention to create hate. It is my effort to point the hate out. Unfortunately this becomes very much like smelling gas, you can't help but be accused of being the one who passed it.
Why is this so important? Am I being hysterical? I hope so. I really do. I would be more hopeful that I am wrong were it not for how small this fragile blue Christmas ball of a planet has become and how very easy it is just to blow the whole thing up. When certain ideologies are understood, the role of nuclear weapons takes on a greater meaning. The destruction of the planet fulfills the scriptures of more than one religion. We human beings are at a point in our evolution where we most definitely will NOT survive our religious differences and when we go, we will take the whole planet with us (which certainly wouldn't be fair to the nicer species that inhabit this place now would it?) I am not a bit happy to be of the opinion that we are at the zero hour. It is high time to start basing our morals and ethics on something more substantial and practical than myth and to take a look at the world around us with honesty unfettered by political agenda.
We have so many people who are committed to small thinking. We think with our egos, more concerned with being right than finding the truth. We think in terms of political parties. We think in terms that separate us in the hopes of being "better than". We will eagerly acknowledge the threat of Sarah Palin on the separation of church and state. I would agree with that but then why completely look the other way when it comes to something so much more threatening? It is like watching somebody standing on a chair to avoid a mouse in the room while ignoring the rabid dog that is poised to pounce. Just because there are many religious right wingers who are against Islam because it threatens Christianity's monopoly on faith does not mean that there is not a threat to everyone from POLITICAL Islam. This attitude is suicidal and take a good look at where this has gotten the other half of Western civilization: Europe (AKA Eurabia).
Violence ensues in Norway from political Islam being offended by Christmas lights but streets are illegally blocked off in France for Islamists to conduct their prayers. Danish children are not allowed to put any symbols of their country's flag on their clothing or backpacks because it will offend immigrants and they will get beaten up. This is human nature at it's most revolting. On one hand you have the offensive arrogance of a barbaric ideology seeing how far it can get by using intimidation. On the other hand you have the spineless who allow this to happen. The leaders of these countries are like weak parents who allow burglars into their homes and offer them a chance to rape their children in the hopes that they will be satisfied and go away. Both are examples of a disgusting failure to reach the higher levels of the human spirit. This is not about right and left, it is much bigger than that, it is about right and wrong. And unless we can get ourselves united in some way as human beings first and political parties and religions second, we don't stand a chance.
In view of mankind's inability to handle religion in a manner that makes it beneficial, it's more than tempting to say that it ought to be done away with entirely. We need to base our ethics and morals on something more appropriate than ancient man made myth and superstition. Charming as it can be, it isn't doing us any good.
Still, I hope we don't really need to do that. I hope that we can be grown up enough to handle religious freedom. Taking away a person's faith is an act of cruelty and many people actually DO use it for good! We just need to take our religions and keep them to ourselves. If everyone can take their own spiritual practice, be it Christian, Hindu, Wicca, quantum mechanics, non political Islam, etc. and let those beliefs create inside them a link to a higher self where we are all united, there would be no need to proselytize, we would be together. We might actually learn to love each other and we might survive ourselves.
In the mean time, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka , Joyful Kwanzaa and above all: REASON'S GREETINGS.