As per usual, it's that time of year when I start getting all jittery and mouth-frothing at the complete lack of decency we sometimes show our fellow human beings. In this, the nexus of cross creed winter celebrations, it just absolutely snows me that after all this time we can still be so closed-minded.
The debate is, the state capital building in Olympia, WA had an Atheist sign up saying there are no gods or angels or demons and at this time of year remember that religion is bad. Someone stole it, a few days later it shows up. Now the pundits are all over this as part of their War on Christmas and I'm frankly a little tired of it. We've gone from subverting a spiritual time of year into a commercial enterprise, to turning that commercial enterprise into beltway, cable news talking points. Doesn't anyone want to just drink egg nog, sleep in and play with toys? Doesn't anyone want to ensconce themselves in the warmth of family and friendship, a few tokens of thankfulness and sing about the promise of spring? There are so many things to like about this time of year that I have a hard time understanding why people get so enraged.
Plus, let's be honest. Pagan does not equal Atheist. Atheist is literally someone who has no belief system that involves gods or goddesses. They are not Pagans. Pagans have all sorts of gods and goddesses. They have two big ones in fact. Solstice to a Pagan is the returning of the Sun King born from the Goddess. Is that something an Atheist is going to get behind? "Sorry, no gods for me thanks. Accept those green ones over there, yeah those. With the antlers."
This belies a larger point that we've become a collection of squabbling rodents, too focused on what's in our hands to realize that we're failing at being a sentient race - maybe the only one. Is it really so hard to look someone in the face and just be amazed at how different they are and how wonderful that is? Is it so hard to know that for every worry, idea, sorrow, joy or pain you've felt, that the very next person you see has had the same feelings? And that every person they see does too. And every one they see and so on until you understand that there is not one person on this Earth that does not at some point feel pain, sadness, loneliness, companionship or appreciation? What kind of existence must it be to look at your neighbor or coworker or random stranger and just be appalled at how much they aren't like you. We need to go back to the old definition of strange, that of remarkable, unusual, extraordinary or curious and worry less about unfamiliar and unaccustomed. Different is exciting. Different is new and fun. If we as a species feared the new so much, we'd have never left the caves, taken the boats across the seas, strapped ourselves to a bomb and shot it into space. Different is what makes us human.
Different is the reason we fight wars, and burn people alive, and slaughter millions. So it's not perfect, but can you imagine a life without it?
So the next time you feel the urge to turn your nose up because someone doesn't believe in Jesus, the next time you want to turn your back on a person because they haven't read the same books as you, the next time you want to rail against a petty issue involving decorations, try doing the exact opposite and see how it makes you feel. Listen to them, ask questions and try to understand their point of view. You don't have to believe it yourself, but if both of you stop and understand each other, you won't have to fight over a sign in a building.