As a nation, we’ve become too sensitive
By Carole Townsend
I’m probably going to regret writing this, but here goes.
Did that offend you? I hope not, but in all likelihood those two words are going to get somebody’s back up. For the life of me, I don’t understand why. There is no malice in the wish; there is no exclusion of someone else’s religious beliefs. I am a Christian, and at this time of year, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I am not trying to convert others to my faith by wishing them a Merry Christmas. I am simply conveying a heartfelt wish to anyone within earshot.
If I were Jewish, I would say “Happy Hanukkah.” Sometimes I say it anyway. Why would I want you to have an unhappy Hanukkah? If I were Buddhist or Muslim, I’m not sure what I’d say but I can promise you, I wouldn’t be trying to offend anyone by saying it. If I were an atheist, I might simply wish you a good day. My point is, what does it matter?
I have seen a phenomenon in this country in my lifetime, and I think it’s a sad one. We have become a nation of people who tries to be so politically correct that there is very little that we say that holds any meaning at all. We have become so afraid of stepping on this group’s toes, or that one’s, that we coin ridiculous phrases and mumble half-hearted nothings to a world just itching to get offended. When did this happen? And why?
I used to think that this disturbing milque-toast trend was because of our litigious mindset here in the U.S. Let’s face it, anyone can sue a ham sandwich in this country and have a very good chance of winning. However, that’s not it – not all of it, anyway. I believe that for whatever reason, we Americans now truly believe that if someone doesn’t think, speak and act exactly as we do ourselves, then that person must hate us or by default, be our enemy. And yes, I know that I probably offended some by using the term “Americans.” Our neighbors to the north and to the south are Americans as well, so we have that to worry about.
I know that not everyone I encounter in my daily life is a Christian, but why does that mean I can’t wish them “Merry Christmas?” I’m not casting a spell or putting a hex on them. I am not disparaging their choice of religion – or their right to not observe any religion – by saying it. I really mean it. I love Christmas, and I love this time of year. At the very worst, I am wishing others a good day on December 25.
When my Jewish friends tell me “Happy Hanukkah,” I don’t feel trampled or slighted in the least. I don’t care if you tell me “Happy Kwanzaa,” even though I have no idea what that means. Anytime somebody utters a phrase with the words “merry” or “happy” in it, I consider that to be a big plus. I figure I’m ahead of the game when somebody smiles and wishes me well.
I find the phrase “Happy Holidays” to be irritating. What a generic, “blah” greeting. Are you wishing me a happy Fourth of July with that one? An awesome Arbor Day? Be specific, for goodness’ sake.
I think that there’s a measure of danger when we as a nation are afraid to pledge allegiance to our own flag. I think it’s ridiculous that people cannot say something as positive and frankly, harmless, as “Merry Christmas.” I think there’s danger in watering down our language in an attempt to appease everyone at any cost. We lose who we are and what matters to us by constantly being worried about offending someone. If nothing matters enough to us to speak it, I believe that’s a problem founded in cowardice.
When did we become a nation of crybabies? It’s been within the past 50 years, of that I am sure. I can’t imagine the Greatest Generation bothering with any of this nonsense, can you? They were too busy with meatier things, like feeding their families and fighting a war into which they were reluctantly dragged.
Well, I’ll climb off my soapbox now and on the way down, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. And a Happy Hanukkah. And Happy Kwanzaa. Whatever this season means to you, I wish you all the best of it.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.