I am pissed off. And bitter. And I am pissed off that I'm pissed off and bitter. I don't like the feeling, I don't like what it does to my emotions, I don't like how it makes me treat other people.
I just can't seem to end it. Because OTHER PEOPLE are pissing me off. I'm not pissy about traffic, TV programming, Republicans... I'm pissed off at individual people. This is compounded by the fact that a lot of the people doing this are people I know and care about, and they're not even aware of what they're doing. I'm pissy, but I'm afraid to say anything about it because I don't want everyone else to get pissy at me!
This has been brewing for a few months now. Obama turning traitor, the anti-gay marriage crap, the holidays approaching adding stress. But the past 2-3 weeks have gotten me to the point where I don't want to be around people because I'm afraid the next word out of their mouth will make me EXPLODE.
I want to say it right now: I am pissed off with the concepts of Christian "bias" and righteousness.
1. Yep, some non-Christians started to complain that "Merry Christmas" was annoying them. Some higher-ups tried to be more accommodating and/or inclusive, putting up some Menorahs - Yay! Some higher ups went to the point of changing their professional phrasing to eliminate mentioning Christmas - erm, not really necessary in most cases! Others went just plain bananas, allowing every voice to be heard (even the crackpots) or shutting down all religious holiday speech at all. WTF?
Yep, it's gotten annoying. I'm an atheist and I find much of it ridiculous. But I would really appreciate it if when someone says the phrase "Happy Holidays" you refrain from sneering, judging, or proclaiming bias. No one told YOU to stop saying Merry Christmas. You keep on with that - you and the MAJORITY of Christian Americans can keep on wishing each other good tidings and cheer, yay! But a VAST minority not saying it is not bias, not a conspiracy, not anti-Christian, nor anti-American. The even SMALLER minority who are annoyed with Christians wishing them well for religious holidays they don't celebrate, well they're just ungracious. But them voicing their opinions is not bias.
2. Ever heard of institutional racism? Here's the definition I learned in college: The term "institutional racism" describes societal patterns that have the net effect of imposing oppressive or otherwise negative conditions against identifiable groups on the basis of race or ethnicity. The example used that finally made me "get it" was something like this:
A white man with a 4.0 GPA and a black man with a 3.5 GPA apply to the same college. White man is accepted based on merit. If affirmative action steps in, maybe so does the black man, or just maybe he gets in and the white man doesn't because the school is now full. Affirmative Action sounds ridiculous in the context, right? Well let's go back a few years: white man born to middle-class family with steady jobs, lives in the same house all his life, goes to a school with adequate funding. The black man born to a lower-class family living in an inner-city, father was shot in a random drive-by, mother loses her job trying to manage family on her own, family forced to move to a tiny apartment in a worse neighborhood, no longer can they afford new school clothes each year, the address change put the boy in the worst school district in the state. Now compare the two: white boy with advantages got perfect grades, black boy too busy babysitting siblings to do homework somehow manages to get a 3.5GPA despite this. What if the black man had been born in the white man's neighborhood? Surely someone with his intelligence and without dangerous distractions could achieve a 4.0GPA in that situation. This is the RESULT that Affirmative Action tries to correct. Institutional Racism is the fact that black man's family live in that neighborhood because a generation ago the grandparents didn't have anywhere else to live on their salaries because they were born to a previous generation who couldn't get a fair wage because of their skin color, because a generation before that the family were ex-slaves living in a shack. Slavery has been outlawed, but the ramifications are still there. The entire government is set up in such a way to favor well-off people, who tend to be white because they tend to come from more stable homes and neighborhoods. But it's the non-white populations that need the most help.
Boot-strap it is the answer from Rush and others. An entire racial population is born to a system that works against them, and it's up to them to crawl out of the hole? We have no duty to fill the hole, put everyone on level playing ground?
I think Affirmative Action often does too much, at the expense of too many. But I believe it is the right thing to do to try.
3. Now, change the story a little bit: imagine a Christian and a Muslim. Imagine a government built to favor Christians, but you are born a Muslim. Imagine Christian money, Christian flag pledging, Christian holidays where everything closes, swearing on a Christian bible to prove you are truthful. The Christian guy loves his life and his religion - it is reaffirmed everyday in a million little ways. The Muslim is annoyed that his money only has white faces on it and praises a god he does not believe in, he is singled-out when he is the only one who doesn't pledge allegiance because it is too much like worshipping a false-idol, imagine having to cram your Ramadan traditions into one afternoon because it's a school night but later everyone at school gets 2 weeks off to celebrate the birth of a god you don't believe in, imagine being seen as untruthful because you won't swear by a book you don't have faith in. Now imagine Christmas sales and television programming and neighborhood decorations popping up everywhere the day after Thanksgiving and continuing until the end of the year. Imagine co-workers asking you to recommend a good place to buy a Christmas tree. Imagine office parties where everyone exchanges gifts because they all worship the same god that you don't believe in. Imagine your mosque's newsletter being stamped with "Merry Christmas" by the Post Office. Imagine every store you walk into, every restaurant hostess, every bank teller, every customer service representative wishing you a nice time celebrating their holiday that you won't actually celebrate. Imagine the President going on national television to send Christian blessings for a Merry Christmas to his citizens, assuming they are all Christians who will be celebrating, with not even a shout-out to all the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc. who voted for him but won't be having Christmas dinner.
I'm thinking Institutional Religionism sucks ass right about now. I'm not getting a single paid holiday off to celebrate my god, so is it really any wonder that I'm going to be grumpy? Maybe grumble a little? Maybe write a letter to the newspaper? Asking your local representative for equal acknowledgement of your religious holidays? I'm not in a movement to take your religion away from you, nor am I biased against you. I'm sick of the Christian favoritism, which in its very nature is bias against me!
When I wish you Happy Holidays, I'm not disrespecting you, I'm being nice!
3. You have every right to publicly rejoice in your god, just as I have every right to point out how ridiculous I think you are for doing so. When you tell me two men shouldn't be allowed to marry because homosexuality is a sin, I'm going to mention the fact that marriage has nothing to do with what your god thinks is sinful or not - it was here before your religion even started! When you claim the answer to youth violence is prayer in school, I'm going to point out that I didn't pray in school, I'm an atheist, and I'm not a gang-banger either. When you claim that the only thing keeping humanity in check is god's law, I'm going to point out that I don't believe in god or any laws you think he wrote, and I haven't become a serial killer or pedophile. When you decide it's fun to play devil's advocate by retorting that you question my definition of morality, it's really just singling me out in need of correction if you don't also retort to your other friends' religious exclamations by posting witty anti-god arguments in response.
4. Until horns grow out of his head and he opens the doorway to allow fiery hell to consume the planet, calling the President the Anti-Christ is a bit alarmist. Urgently forwarding an email claiming proof that the president is evil, without even looking up some sort of confirmation elsewhere, is hysterical - and I don't mean funny. I have a problem with the word hysterical, because the Greeks liked to use it to describe menstruating women as psychologically ill, so I don't use it very often. But stumbling upon one nugget of information and then foaming at the mouth while screaming to the world that you now have proof of supernatural evil is irresponsible, unconscionable, and, yep, hysterical.
5. People who refuse to acknowledge scientific facts because of religion or politics are out of their minds. Just because Al Gore says it's so, doesn't make it true. Ditto Glenn Beck. Move beyond the headlines, the manipulated numbers, the accusations, and read the scientific results. And keep in mind that new facts that don't support the old facts 100% is not proof of anything. Doing the same test 10 times with 9 positive results and 1 negative result does not automatically invalidate the test or the positive results.
6. I a seriously questioning just how much Christmas tradition I want to keep in my life and involve my future children with. I thought I had decided this years ago: tradition - yes, religion - no. But both religion and tradition are so overshadowed by commercialism. And I'm not just talking about Christmas sales before Thanksgiving.
Why do we give presents to each other to celebrate the birth of god? Why do we go out of our way, our budgets, and our minds making sure everyone we love knows that they're loved because your bought them the perfect gift on someone else's birthday? Why is it that one present isn't enough? Just how many presents, how many dollars spent, how many decorations hung, how many deals gotten does it take to show our love for each other is genuine?
Humans seem to really like gifts. Often, both giving and receiving. We like to celebrate. It is in our nature to shower gifts on newborns and have a celebration, almost as ingrained as the innate need to love and protect anything with a small face and big eyes. So we keep giving them gifts, because we keep gushing over them and those eyes and our need to bend over backwards for them. It becomes habit. Tradition. Ritual. Once something hits ritual stage, it's too big for its britches - a giant convoluted mess that overshadows everything that was originally celebrated.
Don't let the ritual of shopping and materialism and one-upmanship make you lose sight of your holiday, your loved ones, your budget, your sanity.
In closing, this seems long, but for the points I've hit, I could swear I've missed some stuff. But other than being a little bleary eyed from staring at the monitor, I feel a million times better!
ps: Christmas is not the reason for the season. In our part of the world, December brings the season of winter, which is brought about by the earth rotating away from the sun. Winter is in July in Australia. I'm pretty sure Australia doesn't celebrate Christmas in July. All together now: Christmas is a holiday, not a season. Now birthdays on the other hand, now there's a misnomer. The phrase should really be birthweek. An entire week of celebrations and feasts and honors and presents! Celebrating birthmonth might be nice, but even I think that would be a little excessive, especially if 1/12th of the population sat around and did nothing every month except waiting to be adored and showered with gifts.
pps: but can there really be too much excess for birthdays??! I'll have to ponder this one.
ppps: yep, I'm a materialistic shopaholic. I can't quite believe it myself that I'm complaining about the overspending at Christmas. Who'da thunk it?!