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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Grinch Stole Tolerance and Common Sense

Growing up, I loved the holiday season (yes holiday season... as in the period from Thanksgiving in late November until after the New Year). People actually seemed... nicer around this time of year. Everyone always seemed to be smiling and laughing and just generally having a good time. I don't know if I just grew up or if people really did change, but I have to confess that the holidays begin to wear my nerves thin the older I get.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the decorations and buying massive amounts of stuff that people really don't need. I have a soft spot for buying stuff for other people. I just can't help it. I go into a shopping frenzy and buy more crap than I care to own up too. And that part never gets old. Nor does singing silly songs to my nephews because I can't ever remember the words to Rudolph, or helping Kaia steal candy canes from the tree for his little brother. Some of it is still good.

But... people don't seem very nice this time of year any more. Everyone is caught up in the entire War on Christmas hoopla to remember that regardless of belief; it is a great time of year to just enjoy being alive. Instead of a smile when a greeting is given, you get the annual diatribes about how wrong and/or offensive it is to give that greeting. Instead of admiring decoration genius, you get the annual diatribe about how environmentally unfriendly it is.

And each year, it progressively worsens. Instead of the typical news about a nativity scene being disputed this year, we heard that a Wiccan pentacle was being placed next to that particular scene in no less than two different cities. I actually sent up a little cheer for the folks in those areas for having a little spirit and tolerance. Unfortunately, it didn't last. Within hours of hearing that particular spot of news, the usual furor erupted. People were their usual pissy holiday selves and had a fit.

And then of course, the displays in both instances were damaged and the mayor of Green Bay decided he didn't know anything about the symbol in the first place and that the City Council needed to debate the issue, putting a hold on any decoration aside from the nativity scene in his city.

Well! Isn't that becoming rather typical of this time of year?

It truly begins to wear thin and makes me wonder if people really are so incredibly ignorant that they don't realize how hypocritical they tend to be at this time of year?

I mean, you have Christians screaming about how we should say Merry Christmas and allow Nativity scenes. But, when it comes time for them to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah or allow a Pentacle to be displayed, all hell breaks loose. And it's not just Christians either. Religious groups on every side of the fence have become so puffed up with their own self importance that they've missed the rather glaring fact that they all sound an awful lot alike.

Wiccans in this case are absolutely outraged that the symbols were damaged and/or couldn't be replaced, but I have to question whether or not those same people were outraged when the nativity scene at UNCG was vandalized. I certainly didn't get a flurry of notices of outrage from the community on that one. In fact, I didn't hear a peep from anyone on it. The community was suspiciously quiet over it. But, as soon as the Pentacle news broke, my inbox started flooding.

That's becoming all too typical. Why is it that we are outraged and wish others to be so right along side us when it is our symbol, our holiday, or our faith questioned, damaged, perverted, etc but we're quite content with ignoring it when it happens to someone else? We all preach about having a little heart or spirit, but it seems to be lacking across the board. In truth, I begin to wonder if those holiday unspecific people might just have it right after all. At least they aren't ranting and raving about one thing somewhere and ignoring the same thing somewhere else.

It no longer matters what holiday you're fighting for, whether it be Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. They all amount to the same thing. More intolerance.

Personally, I find there is enough of that floating around already. I'm not fighting for any holiday this year or any other year. Instead, I've decided to fight for something altogether different. A return of common sense and general good will. That's what's really gone missing. And unfortunately, we've all become a little too Grinchy to realize it.

Previously posted to ProgressiveU.org

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