A good friend of mine, Loann, recently wrote to me in response to the myriad of essays in which I discussed not having an idea for what to write about. She called my attention to the many online sites that have writing prompts, and suggested that I visit them. Then she even gave a writing prompt of her own: the words War and Peace.
Those two words milled about in my mind, and came to rest on the phrase “Culture War.” We hear that phrase again and again, particularly around Christmas time. There’a a war on Christmas, some say, a culture war fought with phrases such as “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.”
I’ve experienced this firsthand. At one point, when I was discussing this with someone, I mentioned that some people make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” in an almost combative way.
“I do,” said this person proudly.
The whole thing made me take a breath and consider the following: with all this talk about Culture Wars, perhaps it’s time to talk about Culture Peace.
I’m suppose I can understand how some people see such phrases as “Season’s Greetings” as a war on Christmas. It takes a lot of mental work to do this, but I can do it, and even there, I can’t get much further than “I suppose.” I suppose I can see how someone would view this as an attempt to discredit a holiday that is of paramount importance to them.
In that same way, I suppose that I can see how numerous other things—multiculturalism, transgender issues, among others—feel, to some, like a kind of war on a status quo that seems right somehow, that seems to be a sort of traditional standard. And, given this, I suppose I can see how that would put someone into a combative mindset.
If I can suppose all those things, though, I do ask that these people try, and try is all I ask, to suppose that maybe some of these things aren’t a declaration of war so much as a declaration of peace.
Look, if someone celebrates Christmas, I genuinely appreciate it when they wish me a Merry Christmas. When I say “Peace and Good Will” to them, no, I’m not trying, by what is, yes, my conscious omission of any specific holiday, looking to discredit their belief in Jesus. All I’m trying to say—really—is that during such a time of supposed peace and good will, that it may be a good idea to see if it’s possible to wish it to as many people as possible. I do think it’s easy to feel a bit left out when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, because I’m not particularly religious; when they say “Season’s Greetings” or whatever other ecumenical thing, I really do feel as if they’re trying to include as many people as possible, including me.
And no, I really don’t think Black History Month seeks to somehow discredit the achievements of all those other racial and ethnic groups that have contributed to making this country great. I really do just view it as a peaceful olive branch to a group of people this country treated badly (to put it mildly), and who just want some recognition.
And no, I don’t think calling someone who we would biologically call female “he” is somehow destroying the American family just because they feel more comfortable identifying with masculinity. I just feel as if I’m making that person feel a little better.
What I’m saying, above all, is that I don’t feel like a Culture Warrior. I feel like a Culture Pacifist. Believe whatever you want to believe; all I’m trying to do is respect as many people as possible.
I’m sure there’s something to be said for spending 30 million dollars to have military parade this November to honor those who wage war. All I ask is: couldn’t we just, every once in a while, celebrate those who wage peace? Couldn’t we maybe have a parade of teachers and librarians and day care workers and animal shelter workers? Couldn’t we just once show that we’re not just a nation that fights, but can also be a nation that comforts, supports, and nurtures?
I know. This makes me a wuss, a wimp, a girly man. Maybe, however, it takes a certain bravery to propose that in addition to the deification of taking up arms, we may also want to celebrate those who believe, whenever possible, in laying them down.