By Ryan Broderick, Editor-at-Large
Now I'm pretty liberal, like smoking weed while playing electric guitar with Satan liberal. I'm also an Atheist. I don't believe in a God, life after death or any of the other trappings of supernatural thinking. But I do believe in holidays.
It's the holiday season again, which means peace, love, cheer, lots of food and alcohol, Santa stops by, eight candles get blown out, Dick Clark tells you to buy a new calendar and etc. At the same time, though, the seemingly endless battle between liberal anti-defamation groups and religious communities about what's appropriate to say, do and display during the holidays starts up again.
I believe that celebrating the darkest months of the year with dinners and presents and a strong sense of community is incredibly important. It keeps us sane. So, I don't necessarily understand why wishing one person "Merry Christmas" has to infringe on someone else's Hanukah, or vice versa, or any other winter holiday?
Maybe blame it on a pluralist worldview, but there obviously are a vast amount of religious schools of thought out there. Again, blame it on naivety, but shouldn't America have the cultural infrastructure to allow religious co-existence?
Why does faith or lack there of make you alone on the holidays? I feel like in the 21st century faith is the last thing holidays are actually about. With more than 10% of the America population describing themselves as "no religion" and an even greater percentage considering themselves secular with a vague belief in a greater power, perhaps religion doesn't really have much to do with Holiday bonding.
If you think about what brings us all together on the holidays, things like celebrating the end of one year and the start of another, remembering that people can be kind and selfless, seeing old friends and relatives and then instantly regretting spending time with said friends and relatives.
In the New York Times, in the Wednesday, December 2 issue, there is an article about an Atheist billboard campaigns aimed at letting Atheists know they're not alone on the holidays. The article describes the focus of the campaign as one aimed at letting the nonreligious know that not everyone celebrates a religious reality on Christmas. As an Atheist, I can tell you that the very last thing I'm doing on Christmas is wondering if anyone else is as clinical about existence as I am, I'm enjoying my time and hopefully nursing a strong drink and opening presents.
It might be condescending, but perhaps we need to grow up a little bit. If you really need legislation and an advertising campaign to remind you to be careful about how you flaunt your religious affiliation as the year winds down, you're not doing it right. You're probably a bad Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Taoist, whatever you are, if you care more about people fitting into your faith than actually celebrating it.
For instance, compare Christmas nowadays with anything to do with the Bible. It has more to do with a paganism and magic than anything to do with Jesus. It's not like you're easing up on some kind of strict religious tradition. And if you are someone who takes the holidays reverently and solemnly then do yourself a favor and resign from the public for a few days and hurumph about as you get a sinking feeling that no one really cares you're objecting from pluralist holiday cheer.
So in the end, if anyone reading this gets wished a "Happy Holidays" reply with a "Merry Christmas", a "Happy Hanukah", a "Krazy Kwanza", a "Radical Ramadan", or a "Wicked Winter Solstice." And instead of getting all bent out of shape, go hug your family, catch up with old friends and remember what really matters, not political correctness.