As a supporter of dis-organized religion (as well life style), its a bit mind-altering to think that I have chosen the topic of religious traditions to write about. I find zealots from all corners of the globe to be quite annoying, and most meet the standards of Winston Churchills own private dictionary definition. While this might not make Mr. Webster very happy, the brilliant English statesman had a point when he referred to a fanatic as a "lunatic with a hobby." This goes all across the board; my aunt and your uncle. No one faith has more or less zealots than the other. I do believe, however, that all of them, no matter what they believe and how much they would argue the point, are more alike than different.
And that is the point of this irreverent and impromptu treatise. Some words too, should be added here about a concept I have dubbed in the privacy of my own asylum as "ness." To those not in the know, this has nothing at all to do with a man named Elliot or any creatures that may or may not lurk in a strange but very deep lake in Scotland. It is much ado about birthright; an exaggerated pride about it, to be exact, which if one is not careful, could lead to hubris and Greeks who may not be inclined to bear gifts!
But how does it happen, this "ness-ness" thing, one might ask. Well, it occurs the moment one becomes convinced that the only people worth knowing or talking to are those who have been born within the confines of the very same ethnic background. Consider, for example: Irishness, Germanness, Greekness, Bulgarianness, Jewishness, or any other ethnic "ness." The exaggerated pride bestowed upon a birthright leads to the nationality+ness+ness (i.e., Irishness-ness! Thus the touting a mere accident of birth perpetuates ness. (I knew someone who even after living in the United States for his entire 50 years of life had never even tasted, nor desired to taste, Chinese food on the grounds that it wasnt, are you ready, American!)
Remember my friends, none of us can help what we are born. The only choices we are at liberty to make are in context of personal pride and achievement. A gene pool is fine, but how much did you contribute to yours or me to mine? (I know that I had enough trouble paying the homeowners association pool fee in the days when I lived in a complex that had a pool.) Seriously, too much time and attention is given to that which is not based at all on accomplishment. It is that and not who our ancestors were or werent that defines our personal fiber and character.
What gives me the right to say that we are all more the same than different? The answer derives from the simple observance of life in action over the years. We may all be of different backgrounds, but we all are part of a nation founded by immigrants and represent transplanted cultures. Even African Americans, who among us were the only ones to come to the New World against their own free will, brought with them their own proud traditions that refused to die even under the cruel and terrible yoke of slavery. No matter how or where we came from, we all bleed, work, pay taxes, live, have children and relatives, grow old and die. (Some of us may even gamble, drink and smoke during our lives as a way of not dealing with all of the above except maybe bleeding.)
Christmas has become much more secular over the years and for some (myself included) who might not share its religious significance, it has come to signify something different but just as important. It is a way of feeling. My gifts are an "end of the year way for me to say thank you" to those I might have missed during the year. We all know the things that make us different, but what do all of our different faiths have in common? And why cant we accept that which we wish to and leave all the rest by the prejudiced wayside (or riverside or wherever we feel comfortable)?