In a day and age where everyone is so leery of how to wish someone well during the holiday season, I find a heart felt, "Happy Holidays" to be socially sufficient.
And I mean it too. :)
The celebration that I grew up with was Christmas, but over the years I've found that my evolving belief system will no longer allow me to say, "Merry Christmas". You see, to do so would make it seem that I not only celebrate the birth of one religions pantheon, but that I follow it's covenant, and worse still - that I can only assume that you do too. In a world filled with many different spiritual beliefs and opinions on the existence of a higher power, I find this assumption annoyingly presumptuous and bordering on rude. The only thing that keeps it from being truly offensive is that most people who greet one another in this way, do so with the best of intentions.
It's that implied intent that we all have to try and remember this time of year, and really that is what has inspired today's blog entry. In the last few day's, my limited exposure to the major media outlets has brought to light the typical outcry of the offended. What catches my attention more often than not are thoses involving seasonal displays on public land or government properties.
As an atheist, I am not offended by such displays and especially in public places. To me this is simply a matter of free speech, and so long as anyone can take part, I see nothing wrong with it.
Decorations on government property do come under greater scrutiny due to the supposed separation of Church & State. I wont lie to you, I would love to see any mention of religious belief stricken from all corners of our government, from swearing on a bible to the "In God We Trust" on our money.
A government building, represents everyone and so should it's aesthetic nature.
If I am a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha'i, agnostic or an atheist, I should be able to accept that the majority of the populace celebrates a particular religious belief. I should also be able to accept public displays of that majority faith as well.
However, when I go to a government office, a place that should show no sign of religious bias, and I find it festooned with all manner of Christian symbolism, it's hard for me to believe in a lack of bias and the assurance of equal rights and protections.
This subject was recently an issue in the county in which I live, it seems that an alleged atheist was offended by the decorations, and in particular those topping a Christmas Tree in a government office. After the complaint was formally received, the decorations were removed and I agreed with that decision.
While I'm not in love with what the holiday season has devolved into, I do love decorations, I love the smell of pine in the air, I love light displays in neighborhoods, and yes I even enjoy a lovingly crafted nativity scene.
There's no good reason for decorating a government building, small personal displays in private cubicles aside, there are better things for those tax dollars to be spent on. Better would be that those funds were given to charitable organizations, feeding the homeless and helping people find work.
Remember folks, this is supposed to be the season of GIVING, not DECORATING.