It seems that all people want to do nowadays is to separate themselves from the rest of the community – either by embracing pride in their family’s heritage; or perhaps something more personal, such as sexual orientation; then, there’s the political party affiliation; or the old-school favorite of religious faith. This December, in the midst of a Presidential election season, we’re being bombarded by all fronts, and there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the community that ties us all together.
Take for a moment that all of the personal interests mentioned above is exactly that, personal. Genealogy, sexuality, politics and religion may be important topics that help define you as a person. But, that’s you. How the next person defines him or herself will differ, he may use the same topics, just fall under different answers. Or, you may have someone so radical in thought, she may not label herself at all.
One, simple gesture to help aid in the cause to bring joy to our neighbors is by saying, “Happy Holidays” this time of year. But, even that has struck the ire of people, as of late. Starbucks, of all places, turned into a battlefield, simply by issuing out a red and white cup, with faint images of snowflakes. It’s similar to what the coffee chain has done in previous years; not singling out a particular religious faith, just changing the script on their usual brand to commerate what many consider a festive time a year. By many, that includes Judaism (Hanukkah), Pagans (Yule), Mwlid al-Nabi (Islam), Zoroastrian (Zarathosht Diso) and Christians (Christmas). But, a group considered the red cup a “War on Christmas.” Social media fueled the fire, and before you knew it, the issue made it to the lips of presidential hopefuls.
And, instead of the issue being received by a mild-mannered, compassionate audience, it was addressed by quite the opposite. Of course, when it comes to politics, there doesn’t seem to be any room for a middle ground anymore. Despite that fact, that’s exactly where Starbucks was trying to reside here, and did so comfortably before.
For the love of all that is holy, people need to take a breath and see the compassion others are trying to share today. We live in a diverse world where we all express ourselves in different ways. But, in most cases, in our society, a smile is a universal sign of welcoming. (There is an exception to every rule, but chances are, if someone is smiling at you in town, it’s a friendly gesture. Embrace it.) If that smile is followed by “Happy Holidays,” don’t take it as an insult. Likewise, if your “Happy Holidays” is met with a “Merry Christmas,” smile back and enjoy the moment!