With dismay I continue to witness the demise of tolerance in our community and nation. Recognizing differences in religion and culture has become a battle ground. Through their sponsored actions The American Civil Liberties Union and legislative leaders have created laws and policies under the guise of fairness, but in reality they have deepened divisions among us which is best illustrated with the assualt on the use of the word Christmas.
Never before have I read and heard about incidences and controversies surrounding the celebration of a beautiful holiday where Christians all over the world recognize the intervention of a divine person in our midst. This is a religious holiday first and foremost and it should remain a popular one also enjoyed by persons of any creed, color, culture and political persuasion. It seems to me that people who celebrate Hannakah and Kwanza also adhere to the same universal beliefs that men on this earth have the capacity to be kind to each other and that some measure of divine Providence permeates our existence. . These holidays converging at the same time in our calendar is one of the greatest blessings in our lives and serve us well to remind us of these beliefs.
I grew up in a working class neighborhood where people were outwardly proud of who they were and what they believed in. This was what being American meant. We had an easy propensity to wish a Jew ” Happy Hannakah” and a Catholic ” Merry Christmas”. I never heard anyone getting offended if you mixed up the two and inevitably the exchange created some of the most important experiences of my childhood. Furthermore, the universality of the feeling superseded the underlying religion that sponsored it.
We went to Christmas Concerts, not Holiday or Winter Concerts. We heard music that celebrated the season and the reason for the good will that went “viral” before we needed electronic connections to create the same effect. Our homes were open to friends, neighbors and family members especially on Christmas Eve .. Nativity scenes were diplayed by those who believed in Jesus Christ. I never heard of anyone who didn’t believe in Him becoming offended or felt threatened by such public displays of affection. . People were never empowered with laws to sue someone else for offending them for projecting the religious purpose of the holiday. Since we already had a clear delineation between church and state I never heard about laws requiring to extend them more forcefully into our homes, churches, schools and public buildings to strike down all references to religiousity. But today of course, those in the minority are imposing their will by leveraging legal threats to anyone who they feel threatened by.
This is not freedom and its not equality ; it is in its most naked and destructive form :INTOLERANCE. In creating this condition we have taken a giant step forward in diminishing the single , greatest ideal which is uniquely American and that transformed the world; respecting someone who is different from us. This is of our making and represents the new American Tragedy .
My response to this is simple. I will quietly engage in civil disobedience by wishing everyone I see – “Merry Christmas”. In my defiance I will help ensure that millions of people in the world who believe in the goodness of humanity can profess their good will without fear of retribution. I will not seek the change of laws or the petition of sensibilities through the courts, but instead, I will do what the 1st Amendment enables me to do ; to express my opinion and speak freely.
I am still American and this is still America and therefore even though there are risks in this intended behavior I believe that I will prevail in spreading good cheer without creating a liability to myself.
Merry Christmas to all!