ON Kilter: Merry v. Happy or the clash of December greetings

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays clean hands in the greeting
Merry Christmas Happy Holidays the greeting | Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

OPINION – With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the now socially-accepted Cyber Monday behind us, what say we reflect on our mindset some?

We’ve lost any and all sense of what is important.

One only need go to Wal-Mart last Thursday night – witness the paramount appetite of that day in the frenetic free-for-all for that coveted item, even a DVD – to realize that thanks and giving were the furthest considerations from any of those people’s minds.

It is truly a spectacle best witnessed firsthand.

But wager against me this: Those clamoring consumers are the same people who are put out by the greeting, “Happy Holidays,” in lieu of “Merry Christmas.” Those are the same who claim the commercial “Happy Holidays” is a degradation of the true spirit of the season.

The pagan rituals associated with the birth of the single-most influential and controversial person to ever walk this earth notwithstanding, many of these consumers are the same people who purport to lay claim to a knowledge of the “true” meaning of Christmas. In doing so, they risk appearing demonstrative hypocrites at best and mindless subjects of corporate programming at worst.

But, what exactly is the rub here?

Seriously, at the end of the day it is a holiday right?

Are you truly offended at the exact wording of the extension of good will wished you by someone?

If so, mind if I ask you a question?

Why are you not equally outraged that the holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. has been aptly renamed Human Rights Day here in Utah?

The national holiday was intentionally named after this also historically-influential man. Does it take away from the sincerity of remembrance if his name is not mentioned but rather what he stood for?

(Incidentally, it was not necessarily human rights he was known for but civil rights. Might be splitting hairs here but since we are in such a fuss over words and their meanings it is worth noting.)

Some outside this mindset might, at first view, take the supplanting of King’s name for another term as a Zionist racist smear on his notable life and the work.

The retort would be that it is just a matter of semantics: We are merely trying to encompass everyone because human rights (or civil rights) are not indigenous to any one man, group, or culture.

Know what? They are right.

The problem arises when they take this stand but refuse to yield likewise when a holiday they hold more dearly is semantically challenged. I ask, does this reveal hypocrisy?

More to a succinct point, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between a belief in something and imposing that belief upon others against their desire or will.

I am somewhat stalemated by this contest:

On the one hand, I find myself having a heightened level of respect for someone like, say, a Christian who believes with such earnest and conviction that they possess a universally divine truth that they are nothing short of compelled to share it. I would be wary of anyone who held fast to such a conviction in belief-speak, but took no other action, safe or otherwise, to validate it.

On the other hand, I have a keen sense of the importance of a division of church and state. I maintain that without it, we are failing the premises of liberty set forth by the Founding Fathers of this country.

Then again, the semantical question of how shall we then greet one another during December might be bootstrapped onto the church-state principle by those who favor the Happy Holiday.

And further, what place at all does the central person of one’s faith have to do with commercial enterprise and consumerism? Would Christ, Himself, fight to be painted on the windows of our neighborhood hardware store?

Round and round we go on a carousel, yes I said it, a carousel shiny on the outside defective on the inside that gets us nowhere.

It is plausible to see both points of view so clearly that what to do really just becomes a subjective preference. So why argue the point?

For myself, I will default to looking to the intention of the person in front of me who wishes me well from the vantage of whatever worldview they maintain and extend my hand in like good will.

See you out there.

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.



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