Merry Christmas ~ yes I said Merry Christmas! What holiday greeting do you use? Is it Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanza or Happy Holidays? When you hear any or all of these does your mind move to appreciation of the gesture of good will offered or are you insulted if you have been mislabeled? Do you grasp the sentiment behind the words or do you immediately become personally offended by their misuse? I believe that we have evolved rapidly in many areas with technology at our fingertips and answers to questions only a Google away. I acknowledge that on the surface it appears that we have made great advances in our judgments of others, but I have to question, have we really changed?
During my lifetime I have seen an evolution from name calling and labeling with negative connotations of people different than ourselves, to restraint from using such harmful and divisive language. But I question, have changes really occurred to our belief or is it simply that it is no longer socially acceptable? Have we really moved past distain of people who have different beliefs to acceptance of all people regardless of their religion, nationality, lifestyle or personal choices as long as it harms no one, or have we acquired the skill to hide it well?
I have noticed a trend this year among large retailers to use Merry Christmas once again after the absence for a few years. Is this a corporate decision, pretending to care about standing up for what is right or is it individual workers who refuse to give in to the silliness of their “people at the top?” What if we all refuse to give in and instead of being fearful of saying something offensive, work to solve the problem in the first place by being mindful of our preconceived beliefs about others and working to change the origin of those thoughts?
What if we all work to embrace the thought that we are all equal and attempt to understand the person who lies beneath those labels. Begin to educate ourselves by researching different religions and customs and ethnicities and instead of tiptoeing around the fact that we are all different maybe we can eradicate the divisiveness and begin to relate to each other. I think we would find that there are many more similarities than we imagined. We may even be able to see others as individuals and replace judgment with understanding. We shouldn’t fear learning about others or offering our children the opportunity to investigate others and their beliefs; we all have free will and can accept for ourselves if something is right or wrong for us. Understanding does not require that we agree with all the beliefs, but to judge from afar without learning the truth and dispelling false beliefs and generalizations does not allow us to make an informed opinion.
So this next year I am asking you to join me in beginning a narrative with others about their beliefs, especially those different than yours. Become curious about people and ask questions so we can learn from each other and bring the world one step closer to peace. Let’s all work to not simply refrain from using hurtful words but eradicate them from our world through knowledge and tolerance.
Throughout this year I will be devoting some time to what I believe are some of the most divisive differences among us. I would love to begin a dialog with you and allow everyone the opportunity to read and understand and learn along with me. We can become a bit more open about things that we may not be aware of, things we do not understand.
I do want to take this opportunity to reach out to you, whatever your custom or holiday celebration may be, and say Merry Christmas. Embrace those words anyway you wish but it is simply meant as a loving blessing from my heart to your heart.
Much like in my belief, baby Jesus was given three gifts and that is my wish for you.
The first gift is love. May your heart know what it is to receive unconditional love and give love unconditionally for the rest of your days.
The second gift is life. May a day not go by that you don’t thank your higher power for being gifted with another day to be alive.
And the greatest gift of all; knowing how lucky you are to possess the first two gifts.