Christmas and Our Common Humanity
It sounds like the beginning of one of those jokes that makes you groan and roll your eyes. “A Catholic, a Protestant, a Mormon, an Atheist, a Jew, a Muslim, a Secular Agnostic, a Republican and a Democrat all walk into a bar…” Except it wasn’t a bar. It was a Church of Scientology.
No kidding. I watched a Muslim minister standing around having a belly laugh and yukking it up with Jews, gentiles and whoever else composed the impromptu gathering out in front of the Church around dinner time. “Well this is interesting,” thinks I, as I watched this real-life example of our common humanity being expressed.
Now, there is an old story going around that Christmas came about as a result of the Catholic Church trying to convert pagan Europeans to Christianity. The pagans were clinging hard to their centuries-old traditions of Winter and Summer Solstice, and Spring and Autumn equinox celebrations (let’s face it, four blow-out parties every year is something everyone can look forward to). So, as the story goes, the Catholic priests had to start claiming (as luck would have it), that Jesus was born on the same day as the Winter Solstice, so there was now twice the reason to celebrate.
This is the season which bonds us together with each other and with life itself. It belongs to all.
Well it worked out so well that not only the pagans bought into it, the church bought into it too, and the Christian world now celebrates Jesus’ birthday around the Winter Solstice. The church sold the birthday. The pagans sold the party. And everyone was happy, including the European Jews who like a good party as well as the next guy, many of whom, to this day, celebrate Christmas in conjunction with Hanukkah.
Our common humanity.
The Winter Solstice itself is something that nearly all humanity and all life on this planet has in common. The point of renewal. The end of one climate cycle and the beginning of another, which humans experience with all other living creatures. The common experience goes back millions of years. It’s something that’s in us all and it runs deep.
And, funny enough, even the differences in each of our religions and politics which seem to cause so much strife are also an expression of our common humanity. They were, and are, all solutions to the barbarism and despair of the human condition which have cropped up over the centuries. Efforts to improve the here-and-now as well as the hereafter. Different ideas of what the solution is, but a common effort nonetheless.
Despite the efforts of all who try to make us feel separate and different, this is the season which bonds us together with each other and with life itself. It belongs to all. It includes everyone.
So, let’s party!