I like to think of South Florida as a social laboratory because there are so many of us who are transplants and transients that we’ve created a heterogeneity of culture, background and religion almost unknown in other communities.
Life is a little different here, as evidenced by our annual spats over whose religious symbols ought to be allowed to appear next to whose, or whether they ought to appear at all. The cities of Boca Raton and Weston, fed up with the contentiousness, have taken the radical step of eliminating them altogether, like mothers who ban crayons around the house because the kids can’t be trusted to use them responsibly.
One of my letter-writers recently signed off with, “Merry Christmas,” which may have been a sincere salutation or an in-your-face taunt. I don’t know, nor do I care. I took it at face value.
I don’t pretend to understand the mind of Jesus, but I would guess that He considered Himself a good Jew who happened to have some sound ideas to share with His fellow Jews. From what I know about Him, He did not intend for His adherents to use their faith as a cudgel to make others feel inferior because they hadn’t joined up.
Which brings us to the simple issue of civility. Being civil doesn’t mean that you are making concessions. It just means that you respect those unlike you and their beliefs. Saying “Happy Holidays” to someone is not diminishing your own faith. It’s just practicing the Golden Rule.
Remember that one?