It's almost Christmas. I am a little sad.
Please hang in there with me. This is not a rant.
Each year I take my family to New York City to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, admire the window displays and decorations, and have family conversation over a nice dinner. This is the 21st consecutive year we've done this.
So what's the problem?
It was clear yesterday that Christmas is no longer allowed.
We walked 5th Avenue from 39th to 60th at Central Park. The window displays at Lord & Taylor had nice, homey scenes of "holidays" past. It was warm and fuzzy but not Christmas. Saks Fifth Avenue continued its recent trend of defying anything remotely related to Christmas and displaying what can only be described as , "Uh, what is that about?!" On to FAO Schwarz for some toys. I love looking at toys at Christmas. There were plenty of toys.
21 city blocks. No nativity scene. No Jesus. Had to search with a magnifying glass for the word "Christmas." And, of course, this has been the case for quite a while now.
It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war. Perhaps this is an example of just that. Perhaps we are in a spiritual war. We are willing to discuss and acknowledge the esoterica of spirituality; we are unwilling to allow the full expression of faith to the extent that there is some discomfort. If someone's belief system appears to have even some small element that we don't understand or like, we declare it "offensive" and therefore a threat. There's enough of that going on in every faith.
Corporations spend millions trying to get people thinking outside the box. Every change management program talks about the inherent discomfort that comes when confronting a new opinion, fact, or truth. The foundation of diversity programs rests on the premise that different kinds of thinking, backgrounds, and approaches will create better workplaces and results. Millions more are spent conducting team building sessions designed to highlight the "truth" that "each individual brings something unique" to the group. The battle cry: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Celebrate your diversity!"
The government is made up of elected officials. Campaigns are conducted following demographics and surveys. The principles upon which the country was founded are only trotted out when they make a good sound bite. A person, or group, can claim to be offended at something and thus change the stated position of a candidate. So much for principled leadership.
Two Approaches to Life
1. Fear. When fear prevails we all become defensive. We don't see and hear clearly. We start fighting because we believe there is an enemy. And once the fight starts, we are convinced there is an enemy because we created one. It is self-perpetuating. Pride and self-righteousness erase humility and the search for truth. We try to make ourselves bigger by making others smaller--or eradicate them completely.
2. Love. When love prevails there is peace. With the stillness of peace there is clarity. We listen and we hear. We may not agree but we don't attack. We can acknowledge what is different, listen to new information, and take time to explore what is true and what isn't. Love does not offend. It is a spirit that transcends fear and overcomes irrational anger. We become bigger by actually growing.
What choice are you making?
As I felt my sadness grow yesterday I also realized that I certainly wasn't despondent or empty of joy. To the contrary. I celebrate Christmas daily. The fact that a government or business may choose not to allow that word to be displayed has no impact on its actual existence. It is a futile reaction to fear.
It may be obvious to you that I am probably a Christian. I am, as a result of a personal choice regarding exploration of the evidence and the options. So my heart is invested in the person and teachings of Jesus. It is not invested in "feeling offended" by others or putting down those who may choose to negate Christmas for reasons of perceived profit or votes or their beliefs. I understand all of that.
But I would ask this one question:
"Does the negation of Christmas fill people's hearts with love and joy?"
Ask your friends or even yourself. Is the answer bringing peace, love, and joy in life?
Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, may you and your family share peace, love, and joy this season.
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