So many issues; so little space on a page.
Every culture or religion in the northern hemisphere it seems commemorates the winter solstice, and for what seems like a good reason to the primitive mind. The days were getting shorter. What happens if they keep getting shorter and it becomes night all the time? What will happen to us? Of course the more astute tribal members were aware of the cycle and had learned to predict almost to the day when the days would start getting longer, a time for rejoicing, or perhaps penitence. This has taken many forms; I’m sure far more than I am aware of. Is there a Southern Hemisphere equivalent? One of these ancient celebrations has settled into a complex form usually known in the modern western world as Christmastime.
There it becomes an unnecessary controversy. Some insist it is a religious holiday requiring certain reverence others want it to be just a fun time for spending money, and possibly even licentious behavior at least on New Year’s Eve. Some have different holidays that they want to celebrate independently of Christmas. My personal wish is that everyone gets to celebrate this wonderful time of year in the way that brings them the most joy to share.
America is unusual among nations in that it did not evolve from a unique tribal culture, but as an amalgam of many. Now it is true that the most powerful factions have not always been kind to the powerless, however our founding documents say we should. Some of us try to blend, while others feel put upon that some minority wants equal (special?) treatment. One faction’s religious display in a public place becomes offensive to another. The other wants equality, but does not have comparable resources. There is not enough choice public space to please everyone. A minority’s humble display might look tacky (or respectful) next to a wealthy sect’s ostentatious display.
So many things to disagree over. Some are obsessing over coffee cups that are too sectarian, or not sectarian enough. Is it right to put a Christian Christmas tree in a public park? Wait! the tree was a harmless Pagan symbol that northern Europeans elected to keep, when they were Christianized over 1000 years ago. In fact if you look into the past of many religious symbols you find will that in one way or another they were adopted from another culture.
To me whatever faith my friends and neighbors choose to follow, or to not follow is their business. I hope it gives them hope and comfort, but I do insist they not force it on others. I do not have faith in a divine being, nor do I deny one; I do notice a lack of evidence. Perhaps “God is an imaginary playmate for grown-ups,” Morgan Freeman, The Big Bounce. “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass,” Jethro Tull, Bungle In The Jungle.
I have my faith that the laws of math, physics and chemistry will always have predictable outcome; that the laws of the soft sciences, if we ever understand them, will be similarly predictable and that human curiosity and ingenuity to solve what problems we still have, that almost everything can be scientifically explained.
I do believe: There was one miracle: Somehow, improbably, unexplainably, life started spontaneously, on this insignificant lonely planet. There is no evidence of anything like it within the observable universe. Evolution via natural selection is a viable explanation for the adaption of a variety of life forms to their environment leading from inexplicably simple life forms to one that attempts to understand it all and appreciate one another.
“I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do. They're really saying I love you.” Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World. Although I may not share another’s faith I am never offended by a friendly greeting whether it’s Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Mele Kalikimaka, Shalom Aleichem, Aloha, simply Hi or Happy New Year it’s all the same. They're really saying in a small way I love you.”