Monday, December 22, 2014

Where was it you wanted him kept?

Before I get into the heart of this post, I'm going to say that this may be one of "the icky, cream-filled ones". It could possibly be classified under "how to lose friends and infuriate people."

Between police involved shootings and the report on the CIA torturing prisoners, this holiday season has been difficult for keeping hope alive. Throw social media into the mix and a hot mess just gets hotter and messier. I've tried to keep from posting anything that may cause too heated a comment battle. Following that same mentality, I've bitten the proverbial tongue by keeping my own comments on the posts of others to a minimum. I have been one for getting into pissing matches via comment sections in the past. It really ends in my getting riled up and nothing productive coming from it.

Though I do not follow any religion, I do have many friends who identify themselves as one Christian denomination or other. My feed on Facebook will often contain religious themed quotes; updates on what he/she is doing with his/her particular church group; religious news or pictures, etc. I usually scroll through these things without much thought or analysis since it's really not my thing.

Lately, though, I've been paying closer attention to my feed because I can't believe some of what I've seen. When the CIA shit hit the fan, it hit my news feed as well. Pictures of the events of 9/11/01 were being shared with messages about how the events of that day make the CIA justified in the use of various forms of torture -- the very types of torture most would be enraged over if done to "our" prisoners. There was also a picture floating around of "The Elf on a Shelf" doll being water boarded by a "G.I. Joe" doll who is trying to get information on where the toys are hidden. I decided that was too much for me to handle in my feed so I un-friended or un-followed some people...Christian people.

Then, there are the police shootings and racial tensions that have escalated. Again, I tried to keep from battling folks in cyberspace, including those I actually know in person. One post I did make was to share a statement from Cleveland Browns player, Andrew Hawkins about his choice to wear a t-shirt at a game that was in protest of two police shootings of black people in Ohio. I felt his point-of-view was well stated and I could relate to his anger being at individuals not the police as a whole. When I posted this, someone disagreed with what I posted. I simply said that we were most likely not going to change each other's minds, so we should leave it at that. Somehow, this meant that I was in favor of what a group of protesters had been chanting about killing cops. Wait, what? No. I don't know how that leap was made, but that is not at all anything with which I agree. My agreement with Hawkins' statement is that it is possible to be outraged by the behavior of individuals while supporting the job of police officers in general.

Just like other issues of discrimination, the tensions arise because behaviors of a person or minority of persons belonging to a group are seen as the norm for the group as a whole -- be this religion, gender, sexuality, race, and, now, a profession. This kind of generalizing is like living out synecdoche as more than a simple figure of speech for dramatic effect.

From what I've read and heard of Christ, I don't see how torture of or blanket support of or overwhelming hatred of a group fits into being a follower of a religion based on his teachings. I certainly do not question all Christians. I'm trying to understand how such duality can exist in some individuals.

In the end, I just wonder if some individuals should be less concerned about keeping Christ in CHRISTmas and maybe think more about keeping Christ in CHRISTian.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Tis the Season

This isn't the entry I have been planning to write. That will have to wait for another day soon. I had a moment this morning while reading my Facebook News Feed that got me thinking and I decided to throw the thoughts out to the gaping maw of the bottomless pit which is cyberspace.

The stretch of time between the U.S.'s Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, you know, when different groups celebrate different things while wrapping  up one year and looking to the next. Grumpiness, Bah Humbugs, and Grinch-like behavior sometimes peep through, even from the holliest and jolliest of folks. But, there are some things that I don't see as worth getting your Burgermeister Meisterburger up in arms over.

I fall into the category of a "Happy Holidays" wisher, for the most part. You may find that offensive, put me in my proverbial place, delete me from social media, never read my blog again, and go off to commiserate with Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the War on Christmas protesters. (If saying, "Happy Holidays" is an act of war, I don't know what is going on in the Middle East!) Anyway, you can take that approach, as is your right.

Or, may I suggest an alternative? You can smile, say "Thank You!", maybe a "Merry Christmas" in return if that is your preferred greeting to use. You can be gracious and accept the greeting, as generic or blanket statement-like as you feel it is, in the spirit with which it is most likely intended. It is not a dig at those celebrating Christmas. It is not a bleeding heart conspiracy term meant to start a war. It is a pleasantry akin to "Have a nice day" or "I hope all is well." If someone were to say to me, "Happy Hanukkah (or Chanukah or Chanukkah)!" I would not be offended because, in that moment of well wishing, it is not about the holiday celebrated or the religion practiced. It's a simple exchange of greetings which takes a few seconds out of our chaotic lives to just be kind to one another.

During a time when faces are buried in smart phones, lines are long, people are running ragged, even a smile and a nod with no words at all is a breath of fresh air. Winter is gray, day light is with us for a shorter amount of time, and some are going through the worst times of their lives. This stretch of time for Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is so often associated with giving. The giving doesn't have to be materialistic. A week ago, I was in line behind a man at Target. During his transaction, the chit-chat between he and the cashier revealed that it was his birthday. When he was done, he went to the in-store Starbucks. As I was leaving the checkout, I went to the Starbucks and offered to buy his coffee. He turned me down, but while doing so said, "No, but thank you. That is the best gift I've received." So, my point is, just being kind in action or in words captures the spirit of the season.

My wish for all, as Blues Traveler sings, is:
And everybody sings
If it's Chanukah or Kwanza
Solstice, harvest or December twenty-fifth
Peace on earth to everyone
And abundance to everyone you're with.