On the EDge: It’s the holidays; practice what you preach

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION – I’m not much of a fan of the holidays.

Oh, I enjoy gatherings with friends, and I never saw a roasted turkey I didn’t want to devour.

But I’ve got this thing about hypocrisy.

From now until we tie a bow on 2018 and put it up on the shelf, we’ll hear a lot of these wishes of peace on Earth, good will, brotherhood and sisterhood and all that.

We’ll hear all about the supposed war on Christmas and how we’re not allowed to say Merry Christmas or celebrate the day in a “traditional” manner. Just so you know, there is no war on Christmas, and you can wish somebody a Merry Christmas to your heart’s content.

Just understand that there are a number of religious holidays coming up in the next month for people of different faiths, and respect their beliefs and customs. If you tell somebody Merry Christmas and they respond with Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or even Merry Solstice, do not be offended. They are just wishing kindness and sharing their cultural or religious beliefs.

The hypocrisy, of course, comes from those who preach religious ideals out of one side of their mouth while spreading discontent, hate and anger from the other.

I always thought this time of year was supposed to be one of reflection and joy, of opening our hearts and minds and embracing all with whom we share the planet.

“Peace, good will toward men” will get a lot of mileage over the next month. But even that has been edited a bit. Depending on whose book you read, the quote could be “Peace among men with whom He is pleased,” or “Peace on Earth to people He favors” or even “Peace to men of good will.”

None of us were around when the scribe wrote Luke 2:14, so we really don’t know the exact quote, but there is definitely enough there to decipher the message, even if some of the adaptations of the phrase seem exclusionary.

So it doesn’t matter whether you are awaiting a visit from Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or Sinterklaas or standing by to light the menorah, and do not take offense when somebody offers kind words appropriate to their culture and beliefs.

People of real faith do not engage in such behavior.

They do not trim the tree or send out loving holiday cards with sentimental and religious words then spit epithets about “illegals” or liberals or conservatives or people of differing beliefs.

They understand we are all different, that we all have our deep-seated beliefs, that there is room for all.

They open their hearts instead of closing their minds.

And they do not have to be believers to be of good will. I have known atheists and agnostics whom I would rank among the most decent people I have encountered, people who don’t care what you believe in, what color your skin is or who you choose to love.

The only war on Christmas is the one people wage through their exclusionary behavior, their prejudices, their insecurities.

So Rudolph is safe, you can jingle your bells to your heart’s content and be assured that just about every store you visit will give you an earful of carols.

This nonsense about a war on Christmas was given birth by a couple of former Fox News staples, Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson, who promised we were all going to hell in a handbasket because liberals were trying to kill Christmas.

The liberals want to take away Santa Claus and the Christmas tree, they warned. They want us to stop saying “Merry Christmas.”

Of course, Santa and decorated trees really have no place in the roots of Christmas. “Here Comes Santa Claus” has about as much spiritual relevance as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And as far as Merry Christmas goes, it still seems to have traction and relevance.

The far right, though, has held religion hostage, politicized it, appropriated morality as their own, despite the fact that, well, we’ve had a lot of conservatives, as well as liberals I must add, brought up on moral charges over the years.

But to have a flustered politician with a slick haircut and expensive suit bray about a war on Christmas makes for a great soundbite over at Fox News, and so, as most everything else that touches our lives, the holidays have been politicized.

There was once a true war on Christmas.

Back when this was still a young nation, the Puritans banned Christmas, claiming it was associated with paganism and idolatry. Scripture gave no reason to celebrate the day, they said, so it was banned, and those who rebelled were fined through the 17th and 18th centuries.

The United States made Christmas a federal holiday in 1870, and despite the nonsensical ramblings of O’Reilly, Gibson or those from the fringe, it will remain so and no amount of propaganda to the contrary will change that.

So, yes, Virginia, it is still OK to believe in Santa Claus and Christmas.

And although we have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, I would hope that the world is still a place of wonder and joy; of humanity and grace; of humility and comfort.

The war on Christmas is not waged every December or defined by who says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” It is fought throughout the year by those whose hearts are hardened by arrogance, greed and a fear of those they mistakenly see as a threat.

Peace, good will toward men?

It’s easy enough to say, but how many will carry that sentiment through the new year and beyond? How many will not only speak the words but live them? How many will understand that good will should know no borders, fall within any political measure or be more than a mumbled promise?

We are all simple humans with our own frailties. We all carry a lot of baggage. We all have our doubts and fears.

But that is the thread that we all share.

Peace, good will toward men?

It’s easy enough to say, but meaningless if we don’t embrace it.

Peace, good will toward men?

It’s easy enough to say but an insult unless we learn to practice what we preach.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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34 Comments

  • Real Life November 27, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Ed has an interesting way of mixing his message of hatred for the right, with words of peace, love, and harmony sprinkled in between. ?

  • Happy Commenter November 27, 2018 at 7:07 pm

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    ║╚══╣╚╝║╚═╣║║║─║║─║║╚═╣║───║╚═╝║╚╝║─╔╗╔╗╔╗
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    ───────────────────────────────╚╝ Merry Christmas!

    • ladybugavenger November 27, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      Glad to see you are being productive today

    • No Filter November 28, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Come on John, Ivanka didn’t mean to use her personal e-mail, I don’t think she did anything criminal. Its not like she actually does anything n the White House.

    • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Hard not to love the free entertainment of such idiocy. I love it when irony bites back. To quote Happycommenter themselves:

      “always tries to get you to chase her down an unrelated rabbit trail..deflect, misdirect and misquote.. every time”.

      Life is beautiful, ain’t it.

  • Comment November 27, 2018 at 8:22 pm

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  • jpff November 27, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I think Ed was scraping the bottom of the barrel to meet his deadline for this one.

  • KR567 November 27, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Actually he was scraping below the bottom of the barrel on this one

  • No Filter November 28, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Happy Holidays everyone!

  • utahdiablo November 28, 2018 at 10:41 am

    It’s all about the almighty dollar even before Thanksgiving, then Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the Day after Christmas deals, then onward to Superbowl Sunday…Not much otherwise, just spend spend spend and debt debt debt….only get worse every year

  • Carpe Diem November 28, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    “But I’ve got this thing about hypocrisy.”

    Ed should call the MSM and Gavin Newsome, and let them know that Obama gassed migrant caravans dozens and dozens of times – why, he even did it himself, just like Trump supposedly has…

    Orange man bad! Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and all that jazz!

    • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      You are correct that Obama approved tha use of tear gas on people attempting to cross the border illegally. Ironically the biggest incident was also at the San Ysidro port of entry (2013).

      So now that we have that out of the way, can we get past the “but he did it too” reaction and take a universal stand to support certain values like treating civilians like these humanely? I mean we have signed treaties to not use them during war time but for some reason we find them acceptable in civilian encounters. This should be especially true given the way in which we (and most of the world) have agreed to treat asylum seekers as a different class of immigrant worthy of a more humane treatment and responsibility.

      And as a side note, Obama was called out for his treatment of immigrants on the southern border though with noticeably less flare than the current media does against Trump. It would be dishonest not to recognize that fact even if I believe there are nuanced differences that help explain some of the differing responses to each administration.

      • Happy Commenter November 28, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        Not only treat civilians as civilly as possible, but also treat invaders as what they are, INVADERS! Throwing rocks and bottles at border guards is an aggressive act. Rushing a point of entry is an aggressive act. If these so called refugees are really seeking asylum, why are they being so violent? I don’t want these jerks in the country. Do you?

        • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 3:32 pm

          I am fine using measured, discriminate non-lethal force against those violently trying to cross the border.

          You ask why are some of the refugees and asylum seekers going along with such activity? First, it is a minority of them. Most aren’t being “violent”. Second, the US is only processing roughly 100 applications a day despite knowing this “caravan” was coming for weeks. A humane response would have been to devote the resources to setup interim camps with the Mexican government and increase the US’s ability to process applications. The current administration has no excuse here. Trump used military who could only provide a limited level of support at an immense cost to our country. Those same monies could have been used to peacefully deal with these refugees of a humanitarian crisis.

          Its not that difficult of situation to handle properly and humanely but Trump appears to want the theater. He has promoted this as an “invasion” and is invested in that propaganda. These aren’t “invaders”. They are are diaspora of extremely poor civilians trying to find a safe place for their families. And we have a direct role in the instability of Central American countries given our 50+ military, counter-intelligence and/or American supported coups. We have spent decades meddling in those countries and must be accountable.

          And if our border patrol can’t handle a small group of civilians throwing rocks and bottles in a measured, humane way than we have larger problems. The Border Patrol has every advantage and ability to properly handle these folks without indiscriminately gassing minors.

          PS…if they were “invaders” we would be prohibited from using these measures as they are outlawed in war via a ratification of international treaties.

          • Happy Commenter November 28, 2018 at 5:20 pm

            If you cut in line in front of me I will smack you, plain and simple. These freeloaders are just getting what they deserve. And they are not who you think they are..

          • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 5:43 pm

            Your juvenile response shows a willingness to engage in unethical and likely illegal behavior. Assault is not a rational or legal response to “cutting in line”. I assume that is meant to be a clever metaphor (its not).

            The reality is we treat those seeking asylum as sincerely doing so until the process reveals otherwise. We are legally obligated to do so. It takes processing applications to know who they are. We have the process to help us as much as them. Your response is inconsistent with your own values unless of course security and lawfulness are truly underpinning your response. Its why Trump’s claims for “law and order” where never believable in the first place.

          • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 6:00 pm

            *aren’t underpinning

          • Happy Commenter November 28, 2018 at 8:17 pm

            Yes it is an appropriate response to obnoxious, crybaby line cutters, don’t like it ? Stay out of my line!

          • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm

            At least you are honest about supporting unethical and illegal behavior. You are justifying assault in a situation its not legally justified in. And it matters as you are using it as a metaphor for immigration.

            Ironic given your clear support for the self-appointed “law and order” president.

      • Carpe Diem November 28, 2018 at 6:26 pm

        OOPS now it’s going to rain on them, they will get pneumonia and be miserable and maybe die.
        Again, Trump’s fault for not being humane. Orange man bad! I think it was the awesome economy and AWESOME COUNTRY that we have that attracts them like flies. Yet so many celebrities promise to move. tsk tsk.

        And IRT to Obama being “called out”… HARDLY. The MSM has been his biggest cheerleader then and now, and biggest hypocritical fake news prosecutorial lie machine when it comes to Trump. They are sickening and no one believes their belch any more.

        • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 6:50 pm

          Yes, Obama was called out for his heavy hand in immigration. You do remember he was called the “deporter-in-chief” by progressives and immigration advocates, right? I mean here is Politico, unabashedly left-leaning, reporting on this very fact around 2013-14:

          https://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/national-council-of-la-raza-janet-murguia-barack-obama-deporter-in-chief-immigration-104217

          Here is HuffPo discussing family separations under Obama:

          https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5531552

          Mass protests against Obama in 2014:

          http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/4/immigration-advocatespressureobamaondeportations.html

          The Atlantic calling his policy a ‘betrayal”:

          https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/obamas-long-immigration-betrayal/379839/

          Ignorance isn’t an excuse when making such passionate allegations.

          • Carpe Diem November 28, 2018 at 7:16 pm

            Aljazeera? Huffpo? The Atlantic?

            I said the MSM… CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox…Surely with dozens of gassings of poor immigrants you can find talking heads on those stations calling for Obama’s head? I mean, you have video of them doing this, right?

          • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 8:06 pm

            Nice try.

            The Atlantic and Huffpo are two of Trump’s MSM critics. Huffpo leans way left now (despite being founded by a Republican).

            Keep moving that goalpost. I provided evidence that the media, two definitely mainstream, covered and critiqued Obama about his treatment of immigrants.

          • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 8:18 pm

            And PS, you also ignored my original statement:

            “Obama was called out for his treatment of immigrants on the southern border though with noticeably less flare than the current media does against Trump”

            You are trying to argue a nuance I have already admitted to from the beginning, ie the media is definitely reacting stronger to Trump than Obama here despite similar choices. Its almost like I intentionally described middle ground to agree on so we could talk about the bigger issue, our national treatment of asylum seekers on the southern border, instead of the blame game that only cares about deflecting any accountability to the other party.

          • Real Life November 28, 2018 at 9:26 pm

            Bike and Fish, you are trying WAY too hard on this one, you are wrong, and you look foolish on this thread. See you over at the Cedar City Redman story. Let me guess your stance on that one.

  • bikeandfish November 28, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Real Life,

    How am I wrong. It should be an easy case take if my stance is so “foolish”.

    And do tell me how calling for humane treatment of civilians is “foolish”. Have we really gotten to the point that is a controversial expectation?

    • Real Life November 29, 2018 at 10:09 am

      These “civilians” are invaders. They are coming here to sponge off of our welfare system, which is already way over burdened with millions of these illegal aliens, and many others that are born into the system and have become products of their environment. Meanwhile the media plays to bleeding hearts, like yourself, by constantly showing us pictures of the caravan being full of women and children, which is far from an accurate portrayal of what is really coming across. You can quote all the sources you want, it’s not going to change the opinion of the majority of us LEGAL citizens. We see what’s up. I have been to Europe and personally seen the direct result of open borders. It does not work. The majority of the many issues is a direct result of the huge influx of MOSTLY young males, many of which are criminals, or destined to become criminals.

      • bikeandfish November 29, 2018 at 11:06 am

        Thx for admitting you don’t care about facts by stating “you can quote all the sources you want, it’s not going to change the opinion of the majority of us LEGAL citizens.”. One caveat, the majority of voters don’t support Trump’s immigration rhetoric or the policy you do. You conflate the electoral college win with a majority, they aren’t the same.

        And I don’t know anyone that supports “open borders”. That is a straw man and simplistic rhetoric Trump’s campaign uses to fire up his base. Don’t forget Obama, the alleged liberal president y’all love to hate, deported more illegal immigrants than any other President, including Trump.

        No bleeding heart here. Its a shame that is where we are at as a country but that type of rhetoric is exactly what Trump’s campaign thrives on. No room for nuance when it’s about an “invasion” of young “thugs”, “criminals” and “killers” trying to ruin our country. That inflammatory rhetoric helps folks like you ignore the fact that illegal immigration on our southern border is down and has been for years. It helps y’all ignore the fact that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes (per capita) than both legal residents and citizens. Or that illegal use of our social safety net is statistically rare by illegal immigrants.

        He wants y’all foaming at the mouth and afraid of a scapegoat while his promises for average Americans don’t materialize. And its working. News of failed promises regarding the economy, tax cuts and now massive job cuts don’t hold water to the sight of indiscriminately spraying crowds with tear gas.

        The only fool in this situation will be those who support inhumane and indiscriminate use of force against civilians right now. History does not look too kindly on such behavior in democratic countries. Maybe look at the language used against Jews, black Americans, or other ethnic/racial minorities throughout history to understand how consistent your statements are with historically barbaric behavior and ethno-nationalistic slogans. It shouldn’t he a shock given your candidate ran on the histrionics of historically loaded phrases of “America First” and “enemy of the people”.

        https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/america-first-ku-klux-klan-slogan/

        https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/behold-america-american-dream-slogan-book-sarah-churchwell-180970311/

      • bikeandfish November 29, 2018 at 11:56 am

        PSS…if you are regurgitating Trump’s retweet this morning about federal aid to illegal immigrants than you need to know its a lie.

        https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/ap-fact-check-trump-retweets-false-claim-on-immigrant-aid?fbclid=IwAR24HgsAZ6wq6uWLtni0gxzXy3_Cs5ysXMlMSXPnpzyLuSwWuhDiV5ZugwE

    • bikeandfish November 29, 2018 at 11:09 am

      PS… you didn’t in any fashion show how I was wrong or foolish. I would ask you again to do so but you’ve made your commitment to the illogical and irrational clear, ie unwilling to look at factual sources.

      • Real Life November 29, 2018 at 12:16 pm

        Funny how you think I’m a Trump supporter because I am against ILLEGALS infesting our country. Didn’t vote for the guy, but he’s right when it comes to the border.

        • bikeandfish November 29, 2018 at 1:30 pm

          Actually, in hindsight I’m willing to stand corrected on that overly broad claim. I’ll try to be more nuanced than just “Trump supporter” in the future, ie I’ll mention policy supported, etc.

  • Real Life November 29, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Btw, who pays for anchor babies? THIS is why you are foolish.

    • bikeandfish November 29, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Ugh, children of asylum seekers aren’t anchor babies. Those granted asylum are legal residents and can eventually become citizens.

      Anyways, anchor babies are better known as legal citizens.

      But that is an entirely different subject and in no way a judgement of my calls for the humane treatment of civilians. Once again, you haven’t remotely proven your point.

      PS….i obviously have no clue who you voted for. Trump supporter is accurate by your own admission given the context of this article and our exchange. Trump supporter here = Supporting his immigration policy and enforcement.

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