Respect Others' Faiths And Show Tolerance
I grew up in a suburb of Philly and have always believed that the term "Happy Holidays” referenced Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day. I have a lot of Pennsylvania Dutch Quaker ancestry, my grandfather's mother was a suffragette, and my parents and aunt were hippies. So, I've always had toleration and respect for people of different beliefs, but now, my toleration is wearing thin. I am sick and tired of the debate over the holidays. To me, it is an intoleration of Christians, and I am a Christian.
Two of my friends are Unitarian Universalists (they embrace the theological diversity of their congregation rather than just following a single creed or authority). One of those friends grew up in a Roman Catholic household and the other in a Jewish one. When she and I talked the other day, she wished me "Happy Holidays," and I wished her "Happy Hanukkah." Each of us was thankful, and neither of us was offended. For me, that is how it should be, rather than removing crèche, and trees and the like just to please others. So, when the one who was Roman Catholic told me why he prefers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." This was my response:
"You can wish me anything you want, because unlike others, instead of running to my senator, or the ACLU, I'm just going to say, "Thank you. And, you do the same." That's what tolerance and acceptance is all about - love each other in spite of differences. I say, ‘Bah humbug!’ to those who take offense at others for what they believe. We are not the judges here."
I know this is a free country – a melting pot of many people, and we all come from different backgrounds, and have different religious beliefs, but what if there were laws requiring us to give up things that we believed in before our complaints could be examined and our frivolous lawsuits could be filed? And, what if these laws consisted of such things as “you remove the yarmulke, and we’ll remove the tree,” or “let her wear Western dress, and we’ll remove the crèche”? How would that make you feel? I bet you’d feel angry, wouldn’t you? Well, that’s exactly how many Christians feel when you complain about our open displays of faith; angry because it’s okay for you to display your faith all day every day, but God forbid, we should even try to display ours once. I know it’s not all of you complaining, but it’s also not all of us. So, the next time you put on your fez, your gasa, your turban, or Jilbāb, and then feel the need to complain about a coworker’s crucifix and bible, or a businessman’s menorah or Christmas tree, please remember that some of us don’t like your hats and clothing either (especially at work), but we never complain because we have too much respect for your beliefs and the freedoms of this country to do so.
And, to those of you who do not know, God is Allah, and Allah is God. You see, Allah is what is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths (including Christianity and Judaism) when they are referencing God. So, despite all of our differences and regardless of the title used, each is "the only one to be worshiped." So, why not just forget about what we believe in and rest in the peaceful knowledge that we are all on the right tracks to get there?
Now, that sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is, but… The way I see it is: none of us is here to argue and debate. We are here to share our faiths. So, share your experiences and leave the rest up to the Lord. If someone wants to change his/her ways and follow yours, it will be done, but until then, please show some respect and be as tolerant of others as you expect the rest of us to be of you.