Sunday, November 25, 2007

Religion, Prejudice and Cookies...

I know that it's been awhile since my last BLOG, but I haven't been inspired to write. That and Jeffrey has spent the past week in the kitchen (which is where my computer is located) baking the most amazing cookies. Now that those are done I have a little peace (although I had to turn the music off it was distracting).

One of my colleagues came to my desk on Thursday and asked me a question that has caused a tremendous amount of thought. You see, he asked me why it wasn't OK to say "Merry Christmas" anymore. I told him that I didn't understand where that was coming from. He mentioned a Holiday email we received from the President of our company. I told him that he wouldn't say Merry Christmas, as he is Jewish. My colleague and friend still didn't understand. You see he is a very devout Roman Catholic. I told him that although I don't get offended when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I find that it's more appropriate to say Happy Holidays (although I was walking around the office yesterday wishing anyone who would listen to me a "Merry Chrismahanakwanzicah") he didn't understand what was so offensive. I told him that I didn't think it was offensive, but some might. I didn't really have an answer for him, so I ask the masses, is it offensive, and if so, why? I know for me, a Jewish man it isn't, but I think that's because Christmas was always about Santa Claus and the dead tree in our living room. My Mom didn't want us to miss anything, so we had Christmas and Hanukkah every year. We didn't open Hanukkah presents, only Christmas presents. In fact it was the first year Jeffrey and I were together that my Mom did her last Christmas tree.

This question and subsequent discussion got me thinking about what's happening in Congress right now with the letter one Representative wrote to his constituents about the new Representative who happens to be Muslim. All of this controversy over the fact that the new Rep from Minnesota wants to take the oath of office with one hand on the Koran instead of using the Christian Bible. If he didn't want to do this I would be worried. This is his sacred text, as the Torah is to my people and the Bible to the Christians. My colleague said that he didn't know what was in the Koran and didn't know if it covered things like lying and stealing and such. I told him that it wasn't the text of the Koran (and it does talk about these things (and they are wrong in both books)) it was the oath that he was taking to uphold the constitution. He then asked me how I would feel if it was someone that worshiped the Devil. I said I wouldn't necessarily agree with their politics, but I didn't think that they would have to take an oath on the Bible anyway. I then wondered if this man places Muslims in the same league as Devil worshipers. I told him that although there are radical religious people in the world of all faiths we can't generalize and blame innocent people for the wrongs committed by others. The sad thing is that I don't think he heard me. Just as the focus is on the radical Muslims in the Middle East, there are still the radical Christians around the world telling people that what they believe is wrong. Killing for "Your God" has been around a lot longer then any of us. In fact God talks to our President on a regular basis, why do you think this country is where it's at today. Maybe he should listen to others as well… What did British do to the Indians when they came to this country? It was all in the name of their god.

The idea in this country, which was founded on freedom, has been diluted. We have people who unfortunately think that everyone who is different from them shouldn't have the same rights. I grew up Jewish and didn't really know what persecution was until that day my sophomore year of high school that group of boys threw a penny at me with a swastika on it. I didn't know what prejudice was until that car full of people drove by me and threw something at me screaming "FAG." I don't let those things get to me anymore. I have learned that through my actions and who I am I can make a difference. I saw this when a former colleague told me that when he first met me he had all of these preconceived ideas about gay people and that after getting to know me he realized that all of his ideas were wrong and that I was just like him, except that where he fell in love with his wife, I fell in love with Jeffrey. I learned of my own prejudice the day an old friend sent me a letter expressing the joy she found having found her connection with Jesus. It wasn't until Jeffrey pointed out that she was sharing her joy with me that I realized she wasn't judging. In fact I learned a great deal through my letters to and from her about the similarities we share. She just chooses to pray to Jesus and I meditate to my interpretation of God. If we just live our lives honestly and openly maybe we can touch one person and make a difference in the world. Hate and ignorance are just an unwillingness to understand and a fear of something we don't know. Whatever you believe, as long as you aren't harming another person (or animal) and you live an honest life and believe whatever you choose to believe that's acceptable to me. In fact, I am always interested in what others believe. I think it enhances my relationship with my God.

Be kind to Gods Kids, Merry ChristmaHanakKwanzicah!!!

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