I understand that initially, the ideal and intention of being politically correct was to help us all be more sensitive to the fact that we all walk a different path, have different ethnic & spiritual backgrounds, gender preference, etc. I think the desire to coexist with others without offending them has a place and is important in our ongoing effort to unify us. I think that’s our attempt at weaving the idea of mutual respect into our psyches.
I’ve been reading lots of posts and arguments and jokes about how important it is to use the term “Happy Holidays” when addressing the general idea of a winter holiday. We all celebrate something different that works for our own cultures (family or ethnic), backgrounds, and most importantly, our own personal preferences. It also feels like we are all waiting around like starving wolverines staring into a cage full of raw meat that is just out of reach, ready to pounce on someone that says anything specifically related to their beliefs with regards to December, end of the calendar year, and (dare I say it) a holiday of some sort that on any level is 1) Not the same as our beliefs or 2) is worded in a way that could smell of self-righteous. We are so ready to attack and argue with each other about it. Happy f***ing holidays. Right?
In my opinion, the expectation to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” is counter-productive and here’s why…
When we are socially pressured to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” we are sending the message that whatever your beliefs are, they are most likely offensive to *somebody* so you should keep that to yourself. Don’t talk about it. Don’t share it. Don’t share your joy about it, online or offline….because someone is going to be deeply offended by your holiday flavor, whatever it is. How people are offended by the mere fact that someone believes differently than them in this day and age is beyond me.
SIDE NOTE: Celebrating your beliefs and jamming them down someone’s throat are two different things. If you are a grown, even remotely self-awar and evolved adult in today’s modern era, you should already know the difference.
We’ve tried to protect everyone’s feelings so much with that phrase instead of being focused on elevating the coolness that *is* our diversity (being atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc.), we’ve stifled everyone’s public celebration of their beliefs, which is part of what makes us all unique! Shouldn’t that diversity be celebrated?
In America and other parts of the world I understand that the percentage of Christians/Catholics is pretty high because of history, etc. and that those who don’t celebrate Christmas or anything around December are overloaded with content surrounding those belief systems and it’s effect on the internet and retail and all those crazy holiday-obsessed weirdos that kill each other at Walmart to get a discount on a blender or HDTV. It’s overwhelming and obnoxious, even for those of us that might be Christian/Catholic/Jewish, etc. (and YES, some of us Christians think it’s backwards and lame and everything that Jesus taught us NOT TO DO).
The problem with all of us being pressured to hide our celebratory beliefs, at any time of the year honestly, is that those who may not have been exposed to other beliefs won’t have the opportunity to be curious about, learn about, and explore something that is not their path, squashing an opportunity to open and expand their mind a little bit. As someone who embraces Christianity and Buddhism as my own belief system, I would never have known to read about Winter Solstice and what that means to people that don’t follow a Judeo-Christian religion or Catholicism. If one of my friends didn’t publicly express their joy felt during Winter Solstice at some point, I may never have explored it at all! When they did publicly post about it however, instead of spouting off some insecure hot headed comment about evil Wiccans and hippies and atheists and agnostics, I thought instead to go read about it and learn some stuff. This gave me the knowledge and insight to appreciate those that do choose to celebrate Winter Solstice instead of what I was celebrating.
Sounds simple right? Wrong. We all know it isn’t easy for most to operate that way. We read about it every day. The problem is that those that don’t embrace everyone won’t ever change unless they are exposed to what others believe. The more you learn about others who are different than you, the more secure you may find yourself over time.
I know there will always be haters out there who’s insecurities keep their minds closed, their hearts misguided, and irrationally high and mighty. I do believe though that if we can promote all the different celebrations that go on, let down our guard a little bit, and embrace and support the “to each their own” philosophy when it comes to winter holidays and the beliefs that accompany them, we’ll slowly chip away at those that need a lot of work in the realm of open-mindedness and acceptance.
The goal should be to move people towards being less offended by our differences and less sensitive about them….a goal that will not be met by encouraging everyone to dilute or hide their own personal expression.