Friday, December 19, 2014

Ben Franklin and the War on Christmas

I had intended to write about at least a couple quotes this week and just didn't get the chance. I came across this one by Ben Franklin and it said so much in so few words.

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts!"

Masterful.

I have to wonder what he'd say if he was here observing our society today, not just about Christmas, but about so much.

I am fairly certain that he'd scoff at the alleged war on Christmas, that he'd laugh it off as yet another manufactured battle created for television ratings. It's easy to get people riled up by pitting them against each other these days, and there are entire networks that exist for that sole purpose. 

Those who claim there is a war on Christmas are so wrapped up in the preservation of their own traditions, in the insistence that the rest of society cowers to them, that they can't understand that the requirement that other people be permitted to observe as they choose has no impact on them. Truly.

Just because someone else does something different than you do doesn't affect how you live your life. Honest.

As much as some people seem to believe it, this nation was not founded as a Christian one. We do not have a state religion. Our founders didn't ever intend to dictate from above that one religion was superior to the others, in fact they bent over backwards to do just the opposite. 

Religious freedom does not equal religious oppression, even if the talking heads on television want you to convince you of it. There isn't some giant conspiracy wrapped up in the words Happy Holidays.

If Ben Franklin were here today, I think he'd have something to say about this alleged war on Christmas, and this quote is a hint. 

I think he'd tell people to stop being so worried about being offended, about focusing on who is doing what or using which words. I think he'd be a little shocked at how commercialized the holiday season has become, but more so I think he'd be taken aback by how much some of those who cling outwardly to the Christian faith fail to abide by the lessons it teaches.

We live in a nation where "good Christian" politicians routinely talk about stripping families of their food stamps, where immigrant children are seen as a vile threat to our way of life. They talk and talk and talk about the importance of hard work as though that is all that is ever required in a society as complex as ours. They don't want to see their privilege because admitting it exists at all would shake their foundation to its core. 

I'm fairly certain that Jesus wouldn't have wanted rich people arguing on his behalf on television about their "right" to say Merry Christmas and then demanding that complete strangers not only reply in the same words but express gratitude to them for uttering them in the first place. 

I'm fairly certain that Jesus would want them all to stop talking for a moment and listen to his lessons instead. Live the example instead of seeing who can yell the loudest about their beliefs. 

Humility, kindness, charity, these are the true lessons of Christianity, not judgement and entitlement.

There isn't a war on Christmas. 

Some people celebrate Santa. Some people celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some people celebrate winter solstice. Some people celebrate Hanukkah. Some people celebrate Kwanzaa. Some people celebrate Festivus. Some people don't celebrate anything. Why does what someone else celebrates or doesn't celebrate have to have anything to do with you?

OH WAIT. IT DOESN'T.

I say Happy Holidays because I love everyone and because I'm not about to impose my beliefs on anyone else.

You do your thing, I'll do mine. Can't we just smile and wish other people well instead of questioning why they believe what they do and insisting that whatever we believe is the only right belief? 

No one is assaulting Christmas. Laws and court rulings that mean that other religions must be permitted to display in public spaces as well don't infringe on your Christmas rights. They just mean you have to scoot over a little and make some damn room for the other people.

You know, like a loving your neighbor thing.

Who said that, again?

Jesus.

I could talk about how all those claiming that their Christmas rights are being offended seem to have missed almost all of Jesus' teachings. I can promise you that he would have been way more concerned with feeding the starving and helping the ill and taking care of poor children than he ever would have been with whether first world people 2,000 years later got to celebrate his birthday as loudly as they want. This article does a fantastic job of that and you should go read it.

I could talk about how Jesus wasn't born on December 25th and not even in the winter at all. I could talk about how Christmas was banned for years in colonial America. I could talk about how Christmas trees are actually pagan. I could talk about how the celebration originated more as a winter solstice thing. I could talk about how St. Nicholas didn't really have much to do with Jesus. I could talk about how elves are a recent addition to the lore of Christmas. I could tell you that Santa could be purple and kids wouldn't give a shit as long as he brought gifts...and then tell you that basing Santa's whiteness on Jesus' whiteness is a flawed freaking argument because Jesus wasn't white. I could talk about how Jesus probably wouldn't care about your exterior illumination problems and would probably ask if you've donated to charity instead.

I could.

But then I'd probably offend someone.


I'm pretty sure Ben Franklin would be in total agreement with me.

Happy Festivus.

2 comments:

  1. I love this article so much I wanna marry it.

    Merry Solstice!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't even tell you how much I love this!
    Well said a million times over!

    ReplyDelete

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