As a child, I always used to love hearing "Merry Christmas" from people. It was a time of joy, the release from a long year's hard work, the whole peace on Earth goodwill to men thing. I would say "Merry Christmas" in reply, and I'd laugh when thinking about Ebenezer Scrooge grumping about boiling every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips in his own pudding.
But these days, I wonder if old Ebenezer might have a had a point, in a way that neither he nor his creator Charles Dickens could have foreseen.
Every day I see in my Facebook feed and in the discussion forums I frequent, some variation on "Merry Christmas... and if that offends you, fuck off!" I see political correctness twonks moaning about people not being "inclusive" enough by saying it, preferring the more bland "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" instead. I see people terrified of saying it for fear of offending other religious followers like Muslims or Jews. And then, in response, I see people hurling it out like a challenge, as if they're expecting someone to try to destroy their life for saying it. Every time it comes up, someone wants to start a fight over it. And I find that very sad.
"Merry Christmas" is no longer a wish for good cheer. It has become a political battle cry.
People complain about political correctness as suppressing freedom of speech. Yet, I think about what would happen if I, an agnostic atheist myself, were to actually say "Happy Holidays" or "Super Solstice" to someone, say a member of my family or a friend who prefers to say "Merry Christmas." Would I be called out or questioned as to why I gave such an answer? Would I be lambasted for being anti-Christmas or politically correct? Is it possible that, while bellowing "Merry Christmas" as an assertion of your right to free speech, you could be trampling on someone else's?
My problem with the whole social-justice-and-political-correctness thing is not about not being racist or sexist or non-inclusive, my problem lies in the fact that people want to dictate to me how I am permitted to express myself. It's with people who look for excuses to take offence where none is intended. It's with people who want to claim victim status, to cry that they are being oppressed, so that they in turn can exploit the natural human desire to champion the underdog, to impose their own ideas on what constitutes appropriate behaviour upon others.
This is not something that is done solely by so-called SJWs either. If you say "Merry Christmas" with the intent of jumping down the throat of anyone who answers with "Happy Holidays", then you, my friend, are committing the same injustices. You are also dictating how someone may express themselves. You are taking offence where none is intended. You are claiming victim status to enforce your ideology.
If you are a "Merry Christmas" wisher, I want you to think about how you would respond if somebody answered with some other greeting. The same goes if you are a "Happy Holidays" wisher getting a "Merry Christmas" in answer. If your response is in any way negative, or if you say it anticipating a negative response, you're doing it wrong. You aren't wishing someone well, you're seeking to impose your ideology.
So the next time someone wishes you either Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, swallow your pride, put aside your defensiveness, and let the greeting stand for what it should be: a kindly wish that you should be at peace and enjoy yourself. Don't use what for hundreds of years has been a greeting of peace and joy, as a call to arms.
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