In the past week, sick we have been inundated with stories in the mainstream and social media about the erosion of liberty, rights and the freedom to speak openly about our morality or religion. Questions have been asked as to the color and ethnicity of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus and claims of a so-called War on Christmas prevail. The holiday season means different things to different people and even with that acknowledgement, there are certain “traditions” (like shopping) that continue regardless of security breaches and stolen consumer credit information. The culture wars in the news rage on along with continued gun violence. School shootings persist in the shadow of the first year anniversary of the Newtown Massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School just before Christmas last year. Yes, the commercial aspect of Christmas and the holiday season remains as a singular unifying practice across race, class, culture and ethnicity here in the USA. It is a time of year where the spirit of giving is at the forefront of most people’s consciousness. They spend money in this season whether they have it or not.
Even though this is supposed to be the season of “goodwill towards men”, the amount of ill will, contentiousness and mean-spiritedness in the wind cannot be ignored. The firestorm surrounding the recent GQ interview with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson coupled with the proclamation by a FOX News TV anchor that both Jesus and Santa Claus are “white” have made the critical discourse around the Christmas holiday season lively, ongoing and spirited in a way that does not illuminate or exemplify either the intended “spirit” of the season or the message it proclaims. When I witness consumers coming to blows over X-Box game systems, new electronic tablets, clothing, toys or any other such thing, it hurts my heart because it erodes, what I believe to be, the essential essence of the holiday season and illuminates why human beings need to pause and take stock in what is really important as we come to the end of another year. Is a fight about the color of the mythical Santa Claus most important or whether someone has the right to spew offensive and ignorant dogma laced with out-of context biblical quotations worth the time and argument? Life is short and whether you are young or old that is a fact. We know not the day or the hour that our season will be over.
Let us redeem the time and stop the madness! The spirit of love, sharing, giving and caring one for another is universally accepted by all people whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist; whether black, white, Asian, Hispanic or Native Indian; whether male or female; or whether poor, rich or struggling to get ahead. The spirit of love and care one for another is not married or unmarried, gay or straight. Let us honor what is universal about the season whether you celebrate it or not. As we come to the year’s end, what becomes more and more important is how we value one another and the recognition that we have more in common as a part of the human family than we want to admit. The things that truly make a difference in our respective lives have nothing to do with whether Santa Claus is white or not white. Let’s attempt to make a difference for others with the life that we live, instead of engaging in the pettiness that makes little difference when all is said and done. Because when all is said and done more is said than done. Let’s take a moment to share some Love instead of stirring the pot of discord. LOVE never fails.
Tawnya Pettiford-Wates. Ph.D.
Artistic Director and Founder
The Conciliation Project
Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University
Up Next Week: An Opportunity to Re-Set for the New Year 2014