The "happy holidays" social media controversy

If you have been on any level of social media in the past seven days, you have doubtlessly seen the posts.  All over the blogsphere people are up in arms over the civil and polite "happy holidays," touting the "right" to say "merry christmas" to anyone, everyone, and especially those who don't celebrate christmas.


The arguments are all over the map.  Saying "happy holidays" prevents christians from celebrating christmas. or it is an unfair imposition on the perceived religious minority on the so called christian majority.  I've even seen conspiracy arguments claiming that it's foreigners, not Americans, who say "happy holidays" instead of "merry christmas."


Does this mean Nebraska ceded from the Union in 2012 and I never heard about it?


I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Is my US citizenship in doubt because I'm not a Christian, let alone a "born again" Christian?


The majority of these "defense of christmas" posts and "putting the Christ back in Christmas" posts come from a specific set of Christian denominations.  I was raised in one of these denominations and touted myself, as a teenager, many of the same arguments that I hear on social media of late -- except I never accused someone of not being an American simply for choosing a different religion, even at my most passionate evangelical stage of my development.


Indeed, what makes America such a desirable country to live in is the very secular nature of our government.  Why are Iran and Iraq so "oppressive?"  Because they are THEOCRACIES -- where religion and government are one and the same.  In theocracies, disagreeing with the official religious views makes one vulnerable to arrest, torture, and worse.  Theocracies often limit the education and opportunities of women, controlling how we as women are allowed to conduct our lives.  These human rights violations are at the heart of many of our conflicts with theocratic nations.  Americans, at least on paper, stand against killing people for choosing different from the dogma of state-sponsored religions.


So why are so many people up at arms about "happy holidays" and so dogmatic about saying "merry christmas" instead?  Moreover, why do they feel that my saying the inclusive "happy holidays" is an afront to their christianity?


Perhaps it is, on some level, a reflection on their world view.  They want christmas, not hannukah, not yule, not kwanza, or any other religious holiday held in December, to be THE holiday, just as many if not most of them believe that their religion and only their religion is true, correct, and valid.


Inclusiveness, after all, indicates a fundamental respect for differences -- of belief, of culture, of nationality, of personal choices, and so forth. Happy holidays says "no matter what you celebrate -- or don't -- I hope you have a good holiday."


Believing in fairness and equality across all people, I find all this talk online AGAINST inclusiveness very disturbing.  For why shouldn't Americans embrace all the diversity that makes us stronger as a nation?  Why do we promote CERTAIN BELIEFS over ALL of them?  What is wrong with making the season as peaceful and inclusive as possible?


The December holidays are a time when we need to be most mindful of our exclusive tendencies and practice improving inclusiveness.  Rich or poor, rural or urban, christian or not christian -- or whatever the specifics may be -- this is a time to step back, humble ourselves, and realize that people are people, each deserving respect and fair treatment.


whether you are celebrating Yule with me today or prefer another holiday -- or none at all -- it is time we rediscover politeness, civility, and respect for all life -- not just people who agree with us!


Merry Yule and Happy Holidays!



Laurel A. Rockefeller, author

The Great Succession Crisis

E-Book ISBN: 9781476243344
Print book ISBN: 978-1479144808

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