May I Wish You a Merry Christmas?  

Posted by Brock Booher

I recently wrote a short story for a contest, but then realized that it wasn't what they were looking for. I enjoyed writing the story anyway, so here you go...

May I Wish You a Merry Christmas?

Dan methodically entered the subway car and settled in for the thirty minute ride home almost oblivious to the passengers around him. He loosened his tie and began catching up on a few emails on his mobile device as the train lurched ahead. As he read the email titled “Holiday Observance Policies”, his jaw tightened, his temperature rose, and he felt a strong surge of indignation.

The email contained the usual legalese that cautioned employees to replace phrases like “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays”, or “Christmas Tree” with “Holiday Tree”. He wanted to scream! Who are the idiots that come up with this nonsense? Why do we have to walk on eggshells when it comes to a declared national holiday? It is Christmas, and I should be able to say Merry Christmas to anybody I like! Great, he thought to himself, it’s not even mid November and I’ve already lost the Christmas spirit. He bowed his head and said a silent prayer.

As he raised his head he looked around at the other passengers as if really seeing them for the first time. The diversity of his fellow subway passengers reflected the diverse city it traveled through. He noticed a Jewish man, and a Muslim woman, and even though not all passengers displayed their faith openly, he was sure that various religions were represented in that small subway car as it hurried along the tracks.

The words “Love thy neighbor” echoed in his head melting any remaining anger. Instead of resentment for his “different” neighbors, he felt a desire to reach out to them and teach them about his feelings towards Christmas. Gathering his courage he walked carefully to the front of the moving train.

“Can I have your attention please,” he shouted with a big smile on his face. A few looked up, but most ignored his request and kept their attention on their phones, papers, or books.

“May I wish you all a Merry Christmas?!” He paused momentarily. “I know that it isn’t politically correct to say that, because according to some brain-dead lawyer it might offend someone. But I ask you, are you offended if I wish something good for you? Are you irritated because I hope for a better life for you? Do you feel insulted because I want to express my love for mankind to you by wishing you a Merry Christmas?”

Dan looked at the Jewish man who had put down his book and listened. “You sir, are you offended if I wish you a Merry Christmas?” The Jewish man shrugged and replied, “According to history, Jesus Christ was a Jew. I don’t believe he was the Son of God, but I certainly don’t take offense that you honor one of my ancestors. Happy Hanukah by the way,” he said politely. Dan smiled and nodded a thank you.

Turning to the Muslim woman Dan asked, “Do you take offense if I wish you a Merry Christmas?” The woman looked cautiously around at the group who at this point were listening intently. “Christmas is not a Muslim tradition, but the prophet Muhammad fasted along with the Jews on the Day of Ashura, so why can’t I celebrate a holiday that promotes peace on earth and good will to men?”

“How about anybody else? Whatever you believe or don’t believe, do you take offense when I wish you a Merry Christmas?” asked Dan loudly yet cheerfully.

“In Hindu we celebrate the birth of Lord Rama, so I view Christmas as a similar celebration,” said an Indian man in a business suit.

“Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa man!” shouted one of the black teenagers in the back of the car with a big grin on his face. “It’s all cool!”

A businessman near the door put down his paper and said laughingly, “I don’t believe in God, but I get lots of gifts and treats from my Christian friends during Christmas time. What’s bad about that?”

Dan smiled as everyone laughed and several conversations began among people that before were strangers making their daily commute home. He went around the train and wished each individual a heartfelt Merry Christmas. As he sat down he felt the Christmas Spirit more than ever because he had followed what Jesus had taught – he had loved his neighbor, in spite of their differences.


Thank a Veteran  

Posted by Brock Booher

While I was in the military I didn't appreciate Veteran's Day like I do now. While still on active duty it often meant a parade detail or some sort of official function while everyone else was enjoying a day off. I guess I became a little jaded. Perhaps I felt that way because I viewed my own sacrifices as light or nonexistent when compared to those who lost life or limb. I didn't, and still don't, feel worthy of the praise that we rightly shower down on those who sacrificed so much on our behalf.

As a nation we should be very slow to go to war. We should seek every possible avenue to avoid the bloodshed and carnage that inevitably is part of armed conflict. We should endeavor to persuade our potential enemies by all the means available to us, and even be willing to accept a few political "black eyes" to avoid the bloodshed.

However, when and if we do decide to wage war, we must wage it to win!

I have never been a big believer in "limited warfare". The concept seems irrational to me. If the cause is worth waging war over, then let us wage it in all earnestness and with the full weight of our conviction behind it. Once we cross the line from heated verbal exchanges to armed conflict, we should release the "dogs of war" until victory is achieved. Too often "limited warfare" leads to a "limited victory". Too often a limited response cheapens the lives of those who have volunteered to sacrifice on our behalf.

John Stuart Mill said,

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), “The Contest in America.” Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 24, Issue 143, page 683-684. Harper & Bros., New York, April 1862.

Right now a soldier is putting their life in harm's way for you and for me. They do it for Democrats, Republicans, and Independants. They do it for hippies, yuppies, and generation X. They do it for Wall Street and Main Street. They do it for the common working man, and the tycoon. They even do it for those who protest against them. But best of all, they do it voluntarily.

This Veteran's Day, let us give thanks to those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice on our behalf. May we be worthy of the gifts they purchased us with their blood.