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It's Christmas; and while we are all wound up in gift giving, gift receiving, wrapping, parties, family stress, dealing with all our issues at work and play we ought to stop and take a minute to remember what Christmas means.
Christmas honors the birth of Christ. For those who believe that there was a Christ, and that he is the son of God, it is a significant religious celebration. Those that are less convinced generally still identify Christmas as symbolizing the birth of Christ.
And I think Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and all the other established religions recognize that there was a Jesus and simply differ as to who and what he was.
Atheists and agnostics have varying beliefs about the existence of Jesus or even God. I never quite understood atheists. It is human to believe in “something”, and if you don’t believe in God, what do you believe in? It seems like a lot of effort to get geared up to not only not believe, but to belittle those who do.
For the most part Americans acknowledge the right of others to believe as they wish. But we see on the news the tragedy of those who cannot endure beliefs other than their own. In the Middle East the strict beliefs often end in bloodshed and we are outraged.
Even in the US outrage abounds. You don't have to look very far. Some are outraged because a government building has a nativity scene and some Christians are outrage that the same government building allows a menorah.
In a small town in Florida next to the nativity scene is a Festivus pole, complete with 16 Pabst Blue Ribbon cans; installed, I guess, to make the point that not everyone is a Christian.
And speaking of Christians and outrage - how many of you are irate because someone wished you a Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. You know what? Get over it!
I wish people Merry Christmas, unless I know specifically that they are of some other religion. If I know they are Jewish I wish them a Happy Hanukah. If I knew they were Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu I would probably wish them a Happy Holidays. Knowingly foisting your religious holiday on a non-believer is simply rude.
To become annoyed because someone wished you a version of a holiday greeting other than your preferred one is intolerance in its worst form.
There are certainly important things about which to be outraged. And people can be outraged about both sides of an issue; the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner for example. Other issues are profoundly one sided, like domestic violence, or terrorists beheading Americans, or children being slaughtered in a school - in the United States, or in Pakistan.
Most of these big issues seem beyond our control, and in the grand scheme of things they are. But we can each pledge to not assume someone is innocent or guilty based on the color of their skin, and pledge to not hit women, and to consider how to keep crazy people from getting guns.
We seem outraged by stupid things, but seem less concerned by hungry children, pregnant teenagers, an entire generation of black men being slaughtered in the streets, and that not enough of our citizens care enough about government to even vote.
Want to celebrate the Christmas Spirit? Do some good. Donate to a food bank. Spend some of you Christmas budget on the less fortunate. At Christmas it doesn’t matter how they arrived at their position; they are here and they need some help. Suppress your judgment and offer a helping hand. Doing so should be reward enough, so don’t base your generosity on anticipated gratitude.
Its Christmas; and those of us fortunate enough to be fed, clothed, housed, and loved need to spread it around; as little or as much as we can afford.
Mike DiGiuro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org