Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Freedom of Religion Is Not Freedom From Religion, Unless That Is Your Religion

I will never understand why some people feel they have to be so defensive and hostile all the time. These people whine "insensitivity" but the truth is, THEY are the ones who are insensitive.

This time of year, in particular, one reads article after article, letter after letter, about incident after incident concerning "violation of my rights as a citizen/resident of this country and I want it STOPPED RIGHT NOW or I shall SUE and WHINE SOME MORE and WRITE SOME MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR and COMMENT ON WEBSITES and DEMAND THAT MY RIGHTS BE HONORED." Not anyone else's: just theirs.

Well, in this country, we all have a right to our rights. But shouldn't rants like this be reserved for issues that are more, well, life and death? Because if you're raising such a stink about a wreath and a candy cane, what have you left for horrific death and tragedy?

I really don't think anybody had you singled out for abuse when that snowman and the reindeer were put out in the yard. And if someone wishes to put out a nativity scene, well, they've got rights, too. Just don't look. Why can't we all make these diverse ways of celebration a learning time, not a time of hostility and tempers and offense?

When Sam Levinson came home from school and announced to his mother that "I'm the 'S' in 'Merry Christmas!'", his mother didn't go bonkers and storm the school demanding that this very non-Jewish program be removed immediately for the sake of her family. She sighed, and smiled, and said "Oy." Her family was secure enough in its beliefs to allow a little participation in other people's beliefs as well.

Families so insecure in their beliefs that they can't tolerate the slightest insight or gesture from someone else's belief system are sad pathetic entities indeed. Families who are so sure that THEIRS is the ONLY proper belief system that they can't tolerate the slightest insight or gesture from someone else's are even sadder. All religions have that kind of people. They are not good advertising.

What's happened to people? Why are so many people out there up in arms because the majority of this nation's population is happy and smiling and sharing and putting up symbols of a belief system that most of that population believes in? Why can't those who don't, just smile and shake their heads and go home and put up their own stuff? I don't get all huffy when it's Eid-Ul-Adhaor or Boxing Day or Kwanzaa or Navaratri or Omisoka or Hug-A-Tree-Sprite Day or whatever it might be for someone. And if someone doesn't approve of a symbol in a government building, why not just ask if they would please represent yours, too? People who work for the government like holidays, too. Government represents the people, doesn't it?

And pretty much my only good memories about elementary school are about holidays. Take those away and I've got year after year of sitting out in the hallway tutoring the slow kids.

Why can't we all just chill?

Because it just seems to me that if you've chosen to live in a country wherein the majority of the population believes in celebrating Christmas, you're a bit of an asscrack if you make a big loud stink about your 'rights' and get all huffy when a little old lady smiles at you and wishes you a Merry Christmas. That's just plain bad manners, oh sensitive one. You don't have to participate, but what's the harm in letting others do so? Are people storming your home and forcing you to be jolly? It's not working.

Why are you so insensitive about the beliefs of friendly people who mean you no harm, and so ultra-sensitive and quick to find and take offense if you suspect someone has put up a twinkling star or a bell or perhaps has a candy cane in the house and might offer you a lick? Someone is wishing you happiness and peace? How dare they!

I've been invited to Christmas parties all my life. Not everyone does it to my liking. That's none of my business; I'm just happy to be with a bunch of people who wanted me there, too. I've been to Chinese New Year parties and regular New Year parties. I've been invited to Hanukkah parties, and Kwanzaa parties, and parties given by Hindus and Buddhists and Pagans and atheists and people who write "nothing" in the blank that asks for 'religion.'

People who consider themselves 'nothing' make me kind of sad, but that's their business, too.

People who pressure others to conform to a particular sect or belief system, now, that's another subject altogether. But people who just want to express a wish for happiness to another person, using terminology he/she is familiar with? Thank them and smile back. Your face won't break unless your belief system is based on finding offense in other people's belief systems, in which case you're a prick. And just seeing or hearing evidence of other people's beliefs isn't going to hurt anybody, either. I love learning about other people's cultures and beliefs, and I love seeing their symbols and hearing their stories, too. This knowledge isn't going to change or betray my own, but it might make me smarter.

Honestly? I am not offended when people use their own personal belief system to wish happiness to me. I am honored.

If a person sees me in public - or in private, for that matter - and extends a hand of friendship to me with words that are not representative of my own personal belief system, I don't withdraw my hand in a huff and hurt them with a stream of words expressing my OWN beliefs in such a way that this person is fully aware they've somehow offended me by wishing me well in terms they understand but I don't.

I'm also smart enough to understand that a creche is not only a symbol of Christmas but the reason we have it in the first place. Talk all you wish about winter solstices, etc; that's something entirely different. We may have busted a move on your month, but the reason for the season is not the same. I'm willing to share; are you?

Please, everyone, wish me a Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. If you celebrate nothing, wish me a Happy Holiday Season. Pleasant December. Good Times. People want to be friendly and wish you well. Don't throw it back in their face.

Merry Christmas. Etc.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:27 PM | |


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