Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Answer Christmas warriors with a greeting as traditional as Merry Christmas, but more relevant to the spirit of this season.

As I sit by the holiday tree sipping soy nog and listening to soon to be holiday favorites like Secular Night, I can't help but reflect upon what has been dubbed by the media as the Christmas wars. How appropriate a sentiment for the season. I mean there's no irony here is there? None in the fact that a season that's supposed to be about giving and love and peace has been turned into the next battlefront in the culture wars. However, as Phil Donahue, the white haired, bespeckled, poor man's Oprah of his day, used to say, folks, this is still America. And he is right to this day. It still is America. In this country, controversy, like sex, sells. Sex is really just another form of controversy. A sexy form or controversy. Whether you're selling religious fundamentalism and right wing dogma, or newspapers, controversy fuels the economy. And that may be a good thing for the season. You can justify all kinds of meaness, pollution, even war, with the fact that it helps the economy.

Let's face it folks. Times is tough. And much as I'd like to knock it, this time of year I could use being in on the action. More importantly people, I'm afraid that in all of this people will forget what Christmas in American is really about. Commercialism! It's about what we can buy. Most importantly, it's about what you can buy from me. So perhaps I could offer these.

For the Secular Humanist who has everything, why not a Merry Secular Holiday Season! t-shirt? For the thrifty person on your holiday shopping list, Generic Holiday Greetings!

But to throw the other side a bone, because Jesus was a long haired, itinerant, revolutionary of his time. Not at all a part of the majority who were probably celebrating some pagan festival of the winter solstice on his birthday, back then. So we might rightly ask, WWJC (What would Jesus celebrate)?

But they just don't capture the spirit of the season in the old way, do they? And I have to admit that this divisive spirit around the holidays makes me just a little sad. Especially when this holiday season comes at a time when our country is at war and young men are fighting and dying. Whether or not you believe the war is justified, I think we are all united in one thing. Whether you are a stay the course of folly hawk, or a cut and run dove, to be honest I lean distinctly towards the dove side, whether your state is red or blue, the thing we all wish for, almost without exception, is peace.

This season also comes at a time when so many of our fellow citizens have been struck by a natural disaster. When a city that stood as a cultural icon of America still lies in ruin. And lets not forget the many other towns around it who also were struck by the same disaster. Those citizens are scatterred about the country. Many have lost loved ones and all their earthy possessions. Our government was woefully slow to respond and many are still desperately in need. At a time like this I recommend replacing both the secular and traditional greetings with another traditional greeting that has also withstood the test of time, but which is more appropriate, especially in light of the cultural, natural and actual wars we are engaged in. That seasonal greetings is: Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Everyone.

Well, ok, it has a bit of a PC touch at the end. I said everyone, not men. And isn't that at the heart of the spirit of the generic seasons greetings, however misguidedly they are applied at times by the PC police. Isn't the point to make the holiday season inclusive of all people? Whether or not they are in the majority. Whether or not they are Christians. Whether or not they celebrate what we celebrate, something else, or nothing at all.

And towards that end, let's not boycott anything, or threaten business who don't use the greeting we prefer. Let's just start using them to the people we see during the holiday season. Believing there's a war on X-mas is like belief in Santa Claus. You need some imagination. Which Bill O'Reily has plenty. Crooks and Liars reports that his claim of Christmas discrimination on Saginaw Michigan is bogus.

It seems to me in this country that when we're not making up reasons to start real wars, were creating imaginary wars. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin and the Vietnam War? Sound familiar? In my lifetime we've had the War on Poverty, but there's still poverty. The war on drugs and I can still... uh, I mean people can still get illegal drugs. There's the current war on terrorism and I suspect long after we've forgotten it, there will still be terrorism. Now we've got a fake war that's an actual spin off of another fake war. The Christmas wars are really just part of the so-called culture wars. Sometimes I think American just has a big war jones. But we don't always have to play into the war frenzy. In the spirit of the season, sometimes we can just say, peace.

In that spirit I offer these fine products: Make X-mas love, not X-mas war.

Peace on earth. Good will towards Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, Taoists, Wiccans, Voodooists, Pagans, Heathens, Chicks I meet who aren't religious, but are spiritual, and last but not least, Secular Humanists! Amen.

I'm going to send the Make X-mas Love one to Bill O'Reilly. With the caveat that he not attempt to do so with fellow employees in a way that would be considered inappropriate or lead to charges of sexual harassment. Finally, need I remind you all that not so many years ago a great American made a plea for peace in this country. That man's name was King. Do you remember what his plaintive cry was? Yes, it was Rodney King and he asked, "Can't we all just...get along?"

Peace and Ciao.

[A portion of the profits for purchase of the items above will go to a charity to help victims of hurricane Katrina. The rest will be used to support this blog.]

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