‘Tis the Season to Remember That Our Real Issues Are Financial and Economic, Not Social or Cultural.
Growing up, I remember using the terms “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.” When we said “Happy Holidays,” we were not referring to Chanukah or Kwanza – I’d never even heard of the latter – but Christmas and New Year’s, which of course, are separated by just one week. In fact, if said early enough, Thanksgiving could be included in the “Holidays” that were wished “Happy.” But over the past few years, some people have started taking use of the term “Happy Holidays” as an attack on Christianity and as a sign of America’s moral decline.
Recently, billboards have been popping up all over the country that say I miss hearing you say “Merry Christmas” – Jesus. I find these billboards offensive. Is it really appropriate for someone to be speaking for Jesus? To be attributing a quote to Jesus that he did not really make? For Christians, we are talking about the son of God here, as well as a historical person, and I think it is awfully presumptuous for someone to put words in his mouth. I have a hard time believing that the Prince of Peace, who taught us to “turn the other cheek” and love our enemies, would be so petty as to not want us wish each other happiness for both Christmas and New Year’s – and Chanukah, too, right? After all, Jesus was a Jew.
Some cultural conservatives have convinced themselves that there is a “War on Christmas;” a skirmish, really, within the greater “culture war.” These imaginary battles are nothing more than distractions: our real issues are financial and economic, not social or cultural. People who complain about others saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” couldn’t tell you the price of gold or what the Federal Reserve’s role in the economy is, and that’s by design.
But as bad as the I miss hearing you say “Merry Christmas” billboards are, there is a viral image circulating on Facebook that is even worse. It portrays Dogma’s “Buddy Christ” character – which alone is offensive to many Christians – saying “It’s my birthday! Don’t let the Commies ruin it. Say no to ‘the holidays’ this Christmas!” Now, we’ve already established that talking for Jesus and assuming he would begrudge us wishing each other a Happy New Year and/or Chanukah is wildly irresponsible and potentially blasphemous, but now we add in the element of red-baiting: do people who say “Happy Holidays” deserve to be called “Commies?” Does offering an inclusive holiday greeting really reflect Communist tendencies? Or is it actually the people who insist on others saying “Merry Christmas” that more resemble Communists?
Communism is the rejection of private property rights. Saying “Happy Holidays” is an exercise of free speech – it certainly isn’t denying nor seeking to deny anyone’s property rights. Forcing someone to say “Happy Holidays” and/or prohibiting them from saying “Merry Christmas” would be more in line with Communism, but that’s not what’s happening here: people are choosing to say what they want, often without any intention to include non-Christian holidays or to exclude Christ from their wishes. This choice – a free choice – is the essence of capitalism, not Communism!
But what about the businesses that have a policy of saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” in an effort to be more inclusive? Are they not “forcing” their employees to give what they might consider to be a less preferable greeting? To suggest this demonstrates a misunderstanding of what constitutes “force” – a misunderstanding that reveals Communist thinking: No one forces an employee to work for an employer – they do so of their own free choice. If they do not like the terms of employment, they are free to go – this includes things like pay and hours, as well as codes of conduct, such as what holiday greeting must be given. In a free market, private, free–enterprise institutions set policy – not the state. But it is ultimately the consumers who rule — businesses respond to consumer demands.
What is really happening here is that businesses are responding to market forces, seeking to be more inclusive and to avoid alienating customers who may not celebrate Christmas. This is what businesses do: it is the beauty of the market – they serve customers. People who, for whatever reason, detest the idea of “Happy Holidays” are free to boycott businesses that don’t say “Merry Christmas,” but the idea that for-profit enterprises doing so somehow represents Communism shows an absurd misunderstanding of what Communism is – just as it shows an absurd misunderstanding of What Jesus Would Do (and say).
Jesus Christ was the most influential person to ever live. To Christians, he was the son of God. To Muslims, he was a prophet, second only to Muhammad. To practitioners of other faiths and to atheists alike, he was a great moral philosopher who tried to teach human beings to love one another and abandon the use of force in their lives. December 25 was not his birthday, but it is the date that has been chosen to celebrate it. People have the right to be offended by whatever they want, but I think it is ridiculous for anyone to be offended by “Merry Christmas.” I also think it’s just as ridiculous for someone to be offended by “Happy Holidays.”
With that said, all of us at Silver Monthly would like to wish our readers of all (and no) faiths a Merry Christmas – and Happy Holidays, too!