Friday, December 28, 2012

When Christmas is More "PC" than it is Merry

They seem to be annual these days. The two types of Christmas stories that strike fear and dread; the one about the Scrooge boss who gave staff a $10 Christmas gift voucher to a shop that closed down in September and the one about the humbug council that won't put up "Merry Christmas" banners for fear of offending some locals. The two stories invoke fear as well as derision; the fear of being vulnerable to unscrupulous bosses and the fear that the world as we know it is changing (and for the worse)!

 I've never said this in print before, but as well as being a very proud Australian, I'm Jewish. And quite traditional at that. That's right. I don't celebrate Christmas. However I get Christmas cards and I am sure some of them come from clients and friends who know that too. I see those cards as a warm gesture wishing me happiness, peace, good health and joy. Call me strange but I don't have a problem with being blessed with the aforementioned sentiments. I liberally wish shop owners Merry Christmas at this time of the year because if they do celebrate Christmas the greeting means something and if they don't, I trust they know I mean well.
I have no illusions that those who get distressed at the political correctness of outlawed banners, are necessarily devout Christians. The fear of minority-groups-taking-over may well transcend spiritual inclinations.

 I work extensively in the world of equal opportunity. I see organisations trying to balance sensitivity to the rights of minority groups with freedom of expression. They don't always get it right. They don't always make everyone happy, but I respect them for trying.

 We live in a pluralistic society. To me that means everyone living in this amazing country of ours should be free to practise their version of what matters. My only rider to that is they can't attempt to harm anyone else, foist their practices and beliefs on others or show contempt for the laws of our land.

Some of my ancestors had yellows stars pinned to their clothes, were forced to live in ghettos or more horrific than that, marched off to the gas chambers. I can cope with some Merry Christmas banners and I would hope non-Jewish people don't get offended  if anyone wishes them Happy Chanukah when buying Chanukah donuts. And for those of you who aren't convinced, have you been mortally offended by any "No smoking" signs lately... when perhaps you don't smoke?

Live, love and let live and Australia will be even luckier.