Most of my friends know that my husband and I (and our families) have very diverse spirtual beliefs. I'm the token snarky kitchenwitch Pantheist Pagan (or something like that...), my husband is a very open-minded Christian, as are his parents. My mother is also extremely open-minded Christian, my father is a Druid, etc. This time of year, we take the opportunity to enjoy time together instead of arguing about the differences in our beliefs. We all respect each other - not in spite of our differences, but because of them.
As I read about various groups ripping into others about what they call they holidays, how the celebrate the holidays, or even how they speak about their beliefs during the holidays, I've come to realize something: At this time when we should all be grateful for the positive things in our lives - our family, friends, etc., some people insist on bursting the bubbles of others.
This isn't just fanatical Christians who yell at your for spelling "Christmas" as "Xmas" (which I find ignorant, but that's a different discussion for a different time). This is Atheists being, perhaps, a bit too aggressive about their beliefs (like so: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/12/05/atheists.christmas/index.html), Pagans that lash out at other religions... the list goes on and on. The point of the holiday season (no matter what you call your particular flavor of winter holiday) is to celebrate your life, the lives of those around you, and to grow closer to them, to your own spirituality (if that's your thing), but it is NOT to stomp on the beliefs of those around us. Your beliefs are just as valid as my own, and no matter who you are, I respect them. I only ask for the same respect. I would imagine most of us wish more people could respect our beliefs - no matter what they are. Unfortunately, many seem to think this sort of respect is a one way street - they deserve to have it (because their beliefs are "right" or various other reasons), but they shouldn't have to give it, again, because they feel that what they believe is "right."
Now, do I believe my thoughts on religion and spirituality are "right"? Yes - for me at least. But I understand that we are all different, and I feel that there are many paths to God (or whatever you would like to call Him/Her/It/They). I trust all people to make an educated decision regarding their personal beliefs - they have their reasons for feeling as they do. What is NOT okay, however, is forcing those beliefs on others.
When someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I am not offended, but I usually respond with a smile and a "Happy Yule" or "Happy Solstice". True, some people don't take kindly to this, but hey, just like they want to be able to shout "Merry Christmas" from the rooftops, I too wish to wish them a happy whatever I like. The point behind it is not what you CALL it - it is that you are hoping their holiday is a pleasant one. THAT is what matters. I know they're not wishing me a "Merry Christmas" to be cruel or mean or malicious in any way, anymore than my wishing them a "Happy Solstice" is malicious. We are just expressing our hopes for a pleasant holiday to each other. How can this start so many ridiculous fights? When will we humans learn that our beliefs aren't more important than the beliefs of others and, in the end, they aren't worth fighting about? Ultimately, the victims of intolerance (which I'm sure we have all been at some point in time) should keep in mind that responding with further intolerance perpetuates the cycle. It is so much more rewarding to take the high road, even when you feel like another person doesn't deserve it. We say this so often to our children, but do we truly practice this ourselves?
I believe that God - in any form - loves unconditionally. I think that, regardless of whether or not we believe in God or what we believe in, we should strive to love our fellow humans unconditionally. That is my goal for the new year - to love and to show tolerance as much as I hope to be loved and shown tolerance to.
Here are my wishes for you, gentle reader, for this holiday season:
May you have a happy holiday (whatever you choose to celebrate or not celebrate). I hope it is full of family, friends, and joy... And maybe a little too much eggnog. May the new year go astonishingly well for you, and may you receive as much tolerance as you give out and remember that we should all be equal in each others' eyes.
With many blessings and much love,
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