Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cease fire

Wars rarely settle anything--this is why they usually come in pairs. Or in several installments. The fault lines in Europe have, in reality, provided at least four world wars, though the first two are routinely known as the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic Wars, so even though they involve the same peoples primarily, they aren't given a number.

With this lofty example in mind, and given that there have also been several "police actions" that have killed people in the last century, perhaps this is really more of a squabble. But somebody though it would go down better if they attached the term war.

At this most festive time of year, we often see fit to make a slight provision for those who feel the need to start a war over whether or not we are allowed to say "Merry Christmas." I wish we lived in a world where nobody seemed bothered about it if we did, but that would involve going back and repealing the long history of Christians persecuting and killing people who they regarded as less than themselves, then and now. In other words, I have sympathy with those who would rather not be subject to drive-by Christmasses, particularly when they seem to be more of a threat than a promise. But it also seems that in reality, rather than on TV, most people do not take much offence, and certainly don't start a war over it, if they are suddenly Christmassed from close range. In return, it would be more than helpful if the Christmas lobby realized that their ears would most likely not fall off if they got Happy Holidazed instead. There are folks out there who celebrate other holidays and it might even be considered Christian to respect that. There is at least one fringe character from within the tradition who thought the two most important commandments involved loving God and loving your neighbor. But his teachings seem to have gone out of style.

I bring this up only because this year, in my limit wanderings out of home, to a big box store or two, the post office, a couple of drive-through lanes at the fast food, nobody wished me a happy or a merry anything. And I myself found, although I wanted to, I was afraid to try. The closer we got to Christmas the less I wanted to cork my own tradition by saying Season's Greetings, but I still didn't want to be offensive. Each year it seems that what I wish would translate to Love and Joy and Peace means that less and less because it keeps being used as a battering ram to do just the opposite. And just as in every war, this is justified because the people doing most of the shooting insist it is merely self-defense.

I think we have reached a place where, out of exhaustion, and general sadness, people just don't even want to go there anymore. At least that is what it seemed in my neck of the woods.

Now admittedly that was a small sample size. It has been roundly established by now that we all have our bubbles of experience and should not assume everybody else is getting the same vibes. 

But from where I sit, if it takes a long preamble to do it, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas. And if you need to translate that into some other words to make it accord better with your own tradition or your own habits, go right ahead. I don't own copyright on them anyway. They are simply an invitation to joy. An invitation is an invitation, not a threat. It doesn't have to be returned, or accepted. You don't need to RSVP. You can ignore it. 

I'm hoping to find joy in these waning, dark days of December, and I hope you do, too.

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