Merry Intolerance

Celebrate whatever you want, but call it Christmas!

The Dog Ate My Homework
As those few who follow my blog may have noticed, I have not been posting often lately. Part of this is because I have been going through some life changes, and also have gotten a bit busy with work. But really, it harkens back to CNN firing Aaron Brown! It's not that I'm protesting, it's just that I've lost interest in the news! I used to keep CNN on most of the day, and really paid attention after dinner (West Coast time) when Brown came on. For a little while, I did protest the network by not watching. And then I cautiously returned. And got annoyed by a pompous Wolf Blitzer who commands the daytime schedule, and a showboating (no Louisiana "keeping them honest" pun intended) Anderson Cooper. Who's keeping Anderson honest? They're certainly not keeping him humble.

So I've stopped watching round-the-clock news, sticking with my local Southern Oregon 5, 6 and 11pm newscasts, and Brian Williams (because he's on that channel, sandwiched in between local news) on the NBC news. I get all my other info from the Web, and I guess I am just not as fired up about current events these days. I'm sure my blood pressure benefits from that.

And also, I have, for the moment--or maybe the season--given up on the politicians. Or the system. The American public is too easily swayed by propaganda for any real changes to happen soon. People are impressionable and believe what they see and hear on TV. Or are too lazy to investigate further. The FBI is once again--as they did under Nixon--investigating those who dissent from the administration's view. Our country steadfastly refuses to join the rest of the world and deal with climate change. The Patriot Act will be renewed with provisions to do random roving wiretaps of innocent citizens, monitor what books you buy or take out of the library, and follow what you read on the Web. We continue to torture prisoners contrary to our own stated principles and those rules established by the Geneva Convention. We operate secret prison camps in other countries, and when that news is broken, the camps are quietly closed and the investigation is not into the practices of how we treat people, but that someone informed the public of what's really going on. Our politicians rig elections on a grander scale than ever, and then they pack the courts to uphold their fraudulent practices. Our government is in collusion with oil executives, and the owners of the largest companies to fleece the American public--fix prices, back out of pensions, cut jobs or send them overseas where they don't have to pay living wages and benefits.

All very depressing and you don't want to hear it, and, at this point, I don't either. The problem goes much deeper than Karl Rove or "Scooter" Libby or any of that. The American political system has turned as corrupt as we used to say the Soviets were. The difference is that we are the only remaining world power and, as Anderson Kiewper would say, who's keeping us honest? Certainly not the voters nor the taxpayers.

So I don't want to spoil your Festivus... let's get a little closer to home and talk about the holidays.

A Pagan Holiday by Any Other Name
Perhaps the most distressing thing about the religious right commandeering our government is their intolerance for anything that is not them. Intolerance for different sexual orientation; different religions; different sects of religions; different races; different countries of origin; science and logic, for christ's sake--we are getting to be one of the most small-minded countries in the world, which is ironic considering we started out as a nation based on representation, the separation of church and state, personal freedoms and the pursuit of happiness. Ben Franklin would live in France or Canada if he were alive today.

The latest crock of pine cones is the line towed by the puffy-haired (which clearly demonstrates how much air is in their heads) evangelists to "put the Christ back" in Christmas. They are boycotting stores (I think this is the first time that I've cared that WalMart has been a target!), harassing people, and further engendering a climate of intolerance, discrimination, and pettiness.

Put the Christ back in Christmas. Well, as I've probably written before, Christ didn't start out in Christmas! This season began as a pagan holiday--the solstice--to celebrate the return of light, and kept getting co-opted along the way to suit the prevailing beliefs by the Romans and then the Christians. The tree is a pagan symbol and Christ wasn't even necessarily born in December. It was just a convenient time for a holiday.

America was not established as a Christian country; true, most of our founding "fathers" were white, christian men, but they made it a point to preach tolerance and separation. They were revolutionaries, and they were rebelling from state religions such as the Anglican church. There are many religions in America--many different types of Christians; as well as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and let's not forget atheists and agnostics. And a whole group of people (of which I count myself) who believe they are "spiritual" but not religious. That something greater perhaps exists, but we don't have the faculties to know what that is. Or even whether it really is.

So there is no reason people have to say "Merry Christmas" as opposed to the all-inclusive "Happy Holidays," which discriminates against no one (except those who choose to celebrate their most serious holidays at another time of year).

The next time you go to a chain store where employees have been instructed to say "Merry Christmas," just reply with a greeting of your choice. Isn't that what Christ would have done?


Have a scintillating Saturnalia, a swinging Solstice, a happy Chanukah, lovely Kwanzaa, and a happy new year! Oh yeah, and merry Christmas!

Posted: Wed - December 14, 2005 at 12:48 PM