The Holidays

So then, here we are, smack in the middle of “the holidays.” Such a bizarre state of affairs to approach this season for the second year in a row with the pandemic trending upwards, and every day, more and more and more and more… everything else seems to be trending downwards. You know things like kindness, courtesy, peace, goodwill toward men… wait a minute!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t some of those things that are so obviously in deficit the exact same things that so many songs and sermons seem to put forth as worthwhile values? Don’t look to me for an answer on that one. I just asked you.

In either case, we are pirouetting through the holidays.

Have you ever considered the etymology of the word “holiday?” Seems kind of obvious, right? You can hear both words more or less; “holy” and “day.” Of course, because there is another version of English that we call “Old English” (or, if you have any extra “e’s” laying around that you want to use up before they expire, “Olde English” – you can always tell something starting to get really old when it turns olde), finding the origin of the word holiday is not so cut and dried. Try this on for size:

hāligdæg – holy day

-Lots of Olde Englishmen and Englishwomen

But the fact that however you bend your mouth around to say it, the word “holy” is involved, and right off the bat we’ve got a problem.

Because there are a lot of people who call themselves a thing known as “Christian.” These folks want very much for the “holy” to remain in the holidays. They talk about it a lot, and not just during the holidays. They talk about it all the time. How we’re supposed to really dig this guy who started out this kid who was born in a barn on Christmas Day, poor SOB. They talk about how we’re supposed to mold our thoughts and behaviors after him and follow his teachings about how to treat one another and how to care for widows and orphans and refugees…

Oops… wait another minute. Aren’t these the same people crying out the loudest that it’s not their problem if people or widowed or poor or running for their lives from a country in which an early death was a far greater possibility than a long and happy life.

You see that’s where I get confused.

But let’s consider instead the things that are trending upward along with new Covid-19 cases across the US and worldwide. Because we’ve had to consider that particular issue a lot, haven’t we. But what about the little signs we see. Little glimpses that the world and especially the US, may just be waking slightly from a slumber of ultraconservative doggerel which has characterized most of our history.

Diversity

Suddenly this isn’t automatically an evil word. And where are we beginning to see it? On the street, happily, although there are still many for whom the streets are not safe. We’re seeing it in storylines of novels, soap operas, sitcoms, even certain round-table discussions. But what really leads me to believe in this awakening is seeing diversity showing up in advertising. Because there is no denying that where we put our dollah bills, therein layeth our hearts. So if we can use diversity to sell something to an increasingly diverse demographic, we’re going to do it. Advertising is one of the highest quality mirrors of a society at any point in its development.

Environmental Consciousness

It’s getting harder and harder for people to ignore or deny the mountains of independently derived data that proves climate change and specifically global warming are not only a possibility, they are things (and also one in the same thing) that is happening right now. Right before our very eyes.

Hahaha. That’s funny It’s not getting any harder to ignore or deny proven facts. The movement toward double talk, toward deceptive rhetoric, toward Newspeak, is stronger than ever. Obvious hypocrisy is so evident, so much a part of our everyday experiences that we are in danger of falling prey to it.

But there are people, many people who aren’t waiting around for the others to come on board. People in charge of large businesses are beginning to do things to reduce the constant assault of the planet’s own wellbeing. Recycling is now the law in over 1/10th of all states in the union. That’s actually pretty crappy overall, but it’s better than it used to be.

When I was young I remember seeing a thing that is much rarer these days; a smokestack. My first and second elementary schools had them. All sorts of buildings had them, and the ones attached to big industry used to billow forth great sky-streams of belching black smoke. (My second primary school also had ducts and pipes which were in plain view and which were insulated with so much asbestos it is a wonder I didn’t develop cancer in 3rd or 4th grade. True story.)

Cars, God love ’em! We’re getting more and more models that are using electric propulsion, at least for part of the trip, with their little hybrid hearts being shocked back to life every time the green traffic light tells the driver to defibrillate that sucker back to life.

These may be little victories, and certainly a lot more needs to be done. But every day I choose to believe that one more person accepts the evidence before them and says, “Holy crap! We should stop this.” I choose to believe that they then begin to find ways in which they can take an active part in stopping and, to the degree that it can be, fixing the broken sky and water and soil that we as a nation grew up thinking was not only acceptable, not only our God-given right but proof that we bore the Almighty’s Goodplanetkeeping Seal, and screwed up with glee and abandon.

So, you might ask, “What is your point, Varengo? Once again you’ve typed a lot of words, but have you said anything?”

Here’s my point: If you are going to claim to care about people and the planet and the other lifeforms that share the planet with us, and if you’re going to claim to desire a life of emulating Jesus Christ, try actually doing, oh, I don’t know, maybe one thing that you’ve been shown was worthy, that you’ve been shown how to do.

And for all the rest of us who are just trying to do our best, in this season and every other, to you (us) I tip my cap and say, “Thank you. Keep it up.”

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