The Waiting

IMG_0307Christmastime is often a time of waiting.  Children eagerly look forward to unwrapping the colourfully wrapped packages nestled under the tree in a few days.  I’m sure that some of their parents are beginning to wonder when school will start again.

I have been waiting too, but not for anything which can be found in a fancy box.

Since January of 2015, I have been working toward setting up a meeting with a particular Democratic senator.  After reading some of his opinions online and listening to some of his speeches on the floor of the Virginia Senate, I have felt compelled to speak with him, one of a handful Democrats I have wanted to get to know (another being former Representative Dennis Kucinich.  Who knows if that will ever happen?).   Although there have been two potential opportunities for a face-to-face dialogue over this year, the first in the spring and a second possibility recently, both have been unsuccessful and thus this plan has been pushed off to at least the start of the 2016 legislative session.

I’m also looking forward to having lunch with another state senator, this one a Republican.  I am told that this event too will likely transpire in Richmond sometime during the next session.

For three months, I patiently awaited word from a friend and political associate, as we were planning to grab lunch together again.  However, recently I was informed that all that time spent waiting was in vain.  Now the meeting will not happen.  It is terribly disappointing.

Now, I am waiting to meet a new political contact in person, a new potential friend and like-minded ally in the ongoing fight.  I am told that our meeting will happen soon, but currently have no idea of the day, time, or location.

And there are two political organizations that are interested in working together to help advance our shared principles of liberty.  Although I believed both would be getting back in touch in early December, I now must wait until at least early to mid January.  One of which I’ve been trying to set up something with since 2008.  Nine long years.

All of this waiting and hoping is starting to take its toll.  The waiting, the praying, the hoping.

I feel like I have become a modern-day Diogenes, looking for honest, honorable, and like-minded men and women in a world dominated by scoundrels.

I’m reminded of this short poem:

Patience is a virtue.

Possess it if you can.

Seldom found in a woman.

Never found in a man.

However amusing, it is a lie, of course.  Men can be patient, as all of this waiting has reminded me.

Good things come to those who wait, they say.  But as the waiting continues, hopes begin to blossom.  And, at times when this waiting fails to pan out, disappointment is as heavy as a lead blanket, smothering the slumbering dream that lies beneath.  Waiting can sometimes make you feel powerless.

But, with little other option, the waiting continues.

Christmas 2014

IMG_0138Well, here we are, two days until Christmas.

I have to confess that over the last several years my Christmas spirit has been in decline and this year it is more or less nonexistent; I just don’t feel it at all.  We seem to be so wrapped up in the materialism surrounding the day that it is almost completely devoid of anything else.

What did you get me this year?  What did I get you?  How much did that cost?  The person with the most toys wins!

Christmas has become nothing more that a holiday celebrating greed and avarice.  How unfortunate.  No wonder the English Parliament banned celebrating the day for about twenty years in the 1600s.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t things that I wouldn’t mind having.  For example, I need to replace a few pairs of socks and I’d like to have a new laptop to replace mine that unfortunately caught on fire earlier this year.  But, truth be told, so much of what I really want isn’t something that one can cover in colourful paper with a bow on top and place under the Christmas tree.

If Christmas is, in fact, a day to remember Jesus and how he impacted the world, why not take the opportunity to spread a message of love and hope?  Rather than buying something for the man or woman who has everything, isn’t it better to give a gift to the poor?  Sure, it may be frustrating to wait to get the latest upgraded gadget or newest movie, but is that such a terrible thing?  Isn’t that concept a far better representation of what the Christmas spirit ought to be about?

I could make a list of the things I want this holiday season, but the Goo Goo Dolls sum it up quite nicely with their song, “Better Days”.  I encourage you to really listen to the lyrics of this music.

Merry Christmas to all.

A Killers’ Christmas

If you read last year’s posts entitled “‘Tis the Season Part I & II” you know that I don’t care much for the Christmas season.  Unlike our increasingly amoral and immoral society it’s not the Christian aspect I mind, but the focus on materialism, greed, and the well-spread lie of the man in the red suit.  If Jesus were to return to Earth during our supposed celebration of his birth, I think he would be appalled.

Anyway, for the last four years, the band The Killers releases a Christmas themed song  with the proceeds to benefit the charity Product Red.  Regardless if you support their charity of choice, isn’t the spirit of selfless giving a better representation of the meaning behind Jesus’ birth?  Of these, my favorite by far is 2007’s “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”.  I find the thought of a neurotic Santa bent on vengeance terribly amusing as it stands in stark contrast to the traditionally jolly and benevolent character children are taught to both honor and worship.  Although the song is great, the video adds so much more to the story.

After watching the video, I immediately signed on my iTunes account and purchased the video to share with friends and family.  So I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

‘Tis The Season Part 2

Part 2:  My War Against Santa

One might think it strange for me to title this section “My War Against Santa”, after all, who could be against Santa?  Doesn’t he bring joy and hope to millions of children?  Or perhaps you would compare this feud to Dan Quayle’s against the fictitious Murphy Brown?  In any event, my great complaint against Santa is that he is lie.  The developed mythology of Santa (complete with reindeer, elves, and a base on the North Pole) as well as his miraculous omniscience and near omnipresence on Christmas Eve is a complete fabrication.  There is not, nor has never been a person like Santa and yet so many Americans readily spread the falsehood of the Santa story.  I find it deplorable that parents willing indoctrinate their children with this drivel.  Now don’t think I hate everything fiction.  It serves as a wonderful tool to entertain and inspire and allows for massive amounts of creativity.  The problem arises when one attempts to portray fiction as historical or present reality.  Although relatively minor, how many children think Pocahontas married John Smith (as opposed to John Rolfe) due to the efforts of Disney?  Why is it socially acceptable to lie to children at such a massive level as is done with Santa Claus?

Growing up, like most people these days, I was told the Santa lie.  When I discovered the truth, I suppose I was more disappointed that anything else.  Some folks have had a similar response, for example, I draw your attention to the writings of one Christian Scientist.  I would expect that this reaction was not merely an isolated incident and that others have felt similarly betrayed.  However, unlike that author, I have no real interest in “playing the Santa game”.  Most people that I know believe that the myth of Santa Claus is harmless and is all in good fun, but I disagree.  After all, if you can’t trust your parents and your close relatives to tell you the truth, whom can you trust?  Aren’t children generally trusting by nature?  Should we reward such trust with deception, even if this deception has a pleasing face?  I say no.

Another great problem with the Santa issue is assigning credit where it is not due.  For example, why would some people choose to give gifts but claim that they are from Santa instead?  I assure you that when I spend my time and funds to purchase a present, I’ll typically (for there are a few exceptions) let the recipient know from whom the gift came.  Should your children be grateful to a made-up man from the frozen north or their supportive parents?  To me, this rhetorical question is so obvious that any argument to the contrary seems ludicrous.  Another point to consider is the many miracles Santa has supposedly performed.  After all, short of a miracle, how could one man visit so many households in such a small amount of time armed with limitless knowledge and funding?  Normally, of course, he could not.  Therefore, if we expand our thoughts to theology, he must possess god-like powers that either he himself makes manifest or is granted to him by a deity.  Both options present troubling conclusions as they both, by their very nature, lead to worship and adoration of Santa.  Although seemingly innocent, how many children send letters to Santa and visit him at the mall?  Now, how many offer him secret or not so secret bedtime prayers for material salvation?  Has he not become a god with whom they can interact in a very tangible sense? After all, they can see him, touch him, talk to him, and get gifts from him.  Is making Santa a god the kind of morality we wish to infuse in our youth?

To those who consider themselves moral in the audience, let me offer a few thoughts from my own theology.   As Jesus said, “…If your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!”  (Matthew 7:9-10) NLT.  As children depend upon their parents for sustenance, don’t they look to them for their morality and truth as well?  Should you want your faith from your children falter once they discover your lies of Santa?  And what about your faith in your god?  If you son or daughter finds you lying about one miraculous being (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), how can he or she trust your words about the other?  I don’t care how socially acceptable or not the Santa myth is.  Truth is truth and truth must be dutifully protected.  How can you, like an adulterous woman, spread the lie of Santa and then, “…shrug her shoulders, and then say, ‘What’s wrong with that?’”  (Proverbs 30:20)  NLT.  Do you not see the hypocrisy of these acts?

Although I am quite aware that the deeply entrenched fable of Santa will continue to ensnare the hopes and imaginations of children and those who support this fabrication will continue to do so without regret or remorse, I urge you to think differently.  Certainly I will not run through the streets shouting, “There is no Santa” even though we both know that I am right, for it is not my place to usurp the function of the parent…but, on the other hand, I will not simply go along and agree with the lie simply for the sake of social harmony.  I am well aware that such a stance can strain relations, at it has done in my own extended family, but, at the end of the day, at least I try, in this way, to avoid deceiving the most trusting souls among us.  Doesn’t your own morality demand likewise?

Update: After writing this piece, I wondered if I should have compared the concept of Santa to the nanny state, as both will supposedly give you whatever you desire in exchange for strict obedience.  This morning, I see that Tatsuya Ishida over at Sinfest did just that.  Of course, we discover that his character draws this comparison not so much for ideological reasons, but as a result of disappointing Christmas gifts.  Hilarious.  Though I hope you don’t think I’m just mad about getting a pair of socks too…

‘Tis The Season Part I

Good afternoon, readers.  I’ve been thinking about what to write lately, as the political season is a bit slow this time of year.  Of course, in Virginia there is no off year as we have state elections on odd years and national elections on even years.  Nevertheless, other than the recent auto bailout and the possible corruption of the Illinois governor, there is not too much to discuss.  Therefore, I have decided to provide my commentary on this current holiday season in a multi-part series.  Lucky you.

Yes, it is true that I have developed quite a dislike for the Christmas season.  Now I didn’t always feel this way for when I was growing up I eagerly looked forward to Christmas Day as well as everything it embodied.  But as the years progress and I take time to consider truly the full meaning and ramifications of the holiday, I have come up with a multitude of reasons why I have an aversion to the season.  Some people call me a Grinch out of sheer instinct, after all, who else could be against Christmas, but before you rush to such conclusions, I encourage you to consider my arguments.  Well, enough with the introduction, I present to you the first reason.

Part 1:  Materialism and Compulsory Gift Giving

Unfortunately our culture seems to be dominated with the desire for material accumulation fueled by rampant commercialism.  The Christmas season serves as the focal point of this rabid obsession.  I’m sure you’ve witnessed in Walmarts and Targets children screaming to their parents for the latest toys.  Don’t get me wrong, I love capitalism as much or more than the average person, but I fervently believe that materialism for its own sake is destructive.  What did you get me?  What are you going give me?  Do these questions sound familiar?  I want to know, how much stuff is enough?  Isn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to be something other than the accumulation of more and more goods?  (More on this topic on a later section.)

Tied into materialism is the concept of compulsory gift giving.  For some reason, we measure feelings of love, affection, and personal worth based upon the quantity and quality of gifts that we give.  After all, as the logic goes, if you really love me, wouldn’t you spend as much as you could afford, or worst, far too often, even more than you can afford, going into debt?  I can personally recall the Christmas sibling rivalry growing up.  If my sister got either more gifts or a higher value of gifts does that mean that I should use the packages under the Christmas tree to base my merit?  Here is where I would ask if we are really that shallow, but…unfortunately we are.  Now if someone gives you a gift, what is the socially acceptable response?  Why, you give them a gift too.  I have found that when one gives a gift, at least a part of you expects some sort of reciprocation.  Remember, you held that person in high enough regard to expend some of your time and wealth selecting a gift and therefore feel owed.  On the other side, should someone surprise you with an unexpected gift, what is the first or second thought going through your mind?  Isn’t it feelings of guilt or frustration?  After all, you didn’t get that person a gift and now aren’t you socially obligated to do so?

What about merit?  In an ideal world, shouldn’t gift giving, like so much else, be tied to merit?  At Christmastime we are urged to give regardless of merit and therefore we give to spoiled and disobedient children or to acquaintances or family members we don’t really know or like.  Don’t misunderstand my thinking here.  I do enjoy giving gifts, but I don’t think we should be compelled to give gifts just because of a certain date.  If I give you a gift it should be because I think you deserve it, not because it is expected or demanded or it is “that time of year”?  Although it may sound counterintuitive, Christmas cheapens gift giving because it splits the correlation between merit and reward.

We must break this spinning cycle of materialism and compulsory gift giving tied to Christmas.  Will this post be overwhelmed with comments of vitriolic disgust?  I know it sounds cruel, but I honestly believe that this holiday only serves to encourage over-spending, guilt, and bad behavior.  I say, lets forget shopping and give Christmas a better and nobler purpose.