Thanks for the thought

On our mantlepiece is one, solitary card.

I’m not complaining, mind.   We did get christmas cards, but they went straight into the rubbish.  One person insists on sending us a card every single year, despite being told that we don’t want it.  See, the thing is… he says that sending the card shows that he is thinking of us.

I disagree, very strongly.  By sending the card he is thinking of himself.  He’s doing it so he can feel good about himself.  If he was thinking of us, he wouldn’t send the card, because we don’t want the damn thing!

I won’t tell him this next bit.

We have a friend who sent us a card this year – and that’s the card that is on the mantlepiece.  It’s NOT a christmas card.  It’s a card that could be sent at any time of year.  The message in the card, basically, says ‘Thank you for being there.’

The card was sent by somebody who celebrates christmas.  And, to them, christmas is a time to think of friends and family.  So she sent us a card to let us know that she is thinking of us. 

To me, that’s the good bit about christmas: it serves as a reminder to think of others.  Sending christmas cards to somebody who doesn’t celebrate christmas is not thinking of others – knowing and respecting their beliefs, though, is thinking of them.

I’m proud to have that card on my mantlepiece.  It meant a lot.

The trouble with Christmas

Just over two thousand years ago, according to most religions, our ‘saviour’ was born.  These days, we celebrate that fact by spending money we don’t have buying presents that aren’t wanted.

Christmas today is big business.  You’ll see the adverts starting before the summer is truly over, and they’ll go on right up to the day – and then it’s the ‘sales.’

But what does Christmas actually mean to you?

I’ve asked many people,over the years, and had a range of answers – and the very best of them is ‘it’s a time for families to get together.’  Well, I have no argument with that.  I love family get-togethers.  I’d much rather have them in the summer, when it’s easier to travel and you can have them on the beach, but, yes, I love a family gathering.

Over the years I’ve been asking the question, by far the least offered answer is of a religious nature: only a very small fraction of you are actually celebrating the birth of Christ.  So, if you take that religious excuse away, what are you celebrating?

And what makes it any different from Mother’s Day; or Valentines Day; or Hug a Tree Day? 

In the USA, they have something to make every day special: it’s National Volunteer Day today, for example.  So why should Dec 25 be so special?  It’s just a day near the end of the year – Dec 31 should be more important, really, as it marks the end of so many things.

And why spend money you don’t have?  Why spend at all?  Ask any mother out there what they’d prefer from their child: expensive perfume, or a home-made card…  Would you rather have an expensive present you don’t want, or that cheap DVD you’ve been trying to get for years?

There are a lot of platitudes spoken about Christmas – but almost every one of them is a lie.

Christmas is about having parties, presents, and family gatherings. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have those things – I’m saying you should have them all year round.

Thought about it?

Back before my world turned upside down, I posted this image,

Think about it
What do you see?

and asked you to take note of what you saw.  Now it’s time to tell you about it.

Everybody saw a black dot, or blob, or mark – the description varied.  But how many of you saw the white background?  (I know of at least one who did.  Waves towards cornwall)

As we walk this earth, we see many things.  But we also fail to see many things.  An old fuddy-duddy like me sees a student with rings through their nose, ear, lips, tongue, navel, etc.  We see them staggering home from the pub, being sick in somebodies garden.  We see them vandalising, and abusing, and being typical selfish kids.

We don’t, however, see them sitting in the college library for hours on end, studying.  We don’t see them spending their weekends caring for their mum/aunt/gran.  We don’t see them when they’re volunteering at the homeless shelter. 

With few exceptions, nobody is all good or all bad – we all have the capacity for both.  It’s just a shame that we only notice, or comment on, the bad.  Because, actually, I think there’s far more good than bad in most of us.  It’s just that the bad stands out – like a black dot on a field of white.

It is pure coincidence that these posts are either side of the ‘forgive’ series of posts – but I couldn’t have planned it better. 

My partner went in for surgery that they might not survive, and all I could see was that small black blob.  Now my partner is home and getting better, I can finally see the white all around it.

That’s what most of us are like.  Take a good long look around you, and you can see good, decent people leading good, decent lives.  But you have to actually look.  Because if you don’t work at it, you’ll only see that kid riding his bike through the crowd of elderly ladies at the post office, or that drunk staggering towards you.

We don’t take enough time to see the white surroundings – we concentrate on the tiny black smudge.

I include myself in this.  In fact, this whole blog is devoted to the smudge.  Which really says it all, don’t it?  We live in a world where everybody – even those who complain about it – find the smudge more interesting than the pure white.

I’ll keep posting about the smudge – I just thought I’d take the time to point out that I am aware of the white, and value it: but writing about it would be boring.

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My God’s bigger than yours!

Over the pond, there is a religious outcry.  Seems that there is to be a mosque built next to the site of 9/11.  Christian leaders are up in arms about it, and various things are being said.  Something about a mass burning of the Koran, I believe, is one of the steps being taken.

Naturally, the muslims are up in arms about this – just as those same christian leaders would be shouting for an armed invastion if a muslim nation had a bible burning.

And the mosque is not a mosque anyway!  It’s a cultural centre, with prayer rooms for muslims, jews, and christians. 

But they don’t want muslims worshipping so close to ground zero.  Why not?  I really cannot get my head around this.  Maybe the ones responsible for the attack are muslims – but the nazis in charge of the concentration camps were christians, weren’t they?  Following the logic of these bigots, there should be no churches allowed near the sites of the camps.

The fact that some muslims were responsible does not in any way mean that all muslims agreed with it.  In fact, only the most blinkered and bigotted would even consider the idea that all muslims were in favour of it.  Common sense should tell you that there are always dissenters.

So, they’re trying to stop a cultural centre where jews and christians can pray.  Are they saying that no religions should be allowed to worship nearby?  Not a good idea, as there is at least one religion that was there, helping out, on the day.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a center close to ground zero, and on the day the doors were thrown open – victims and rescuers both were welcomed in and helped.

Truth is, the people making the fuss have only one item on their agenda: attacking the muslim faith.  They don’t care whether they are terrorists; they don’t care what they think about 9/11; they don’t care whether they are good, decent people.  All they can see is the muslim faith – and it frightens them.

They fear muslims.  They fear that people may realise just how strong the muslim faith is.  This is the heart of the problem, you know.  Muslims believe.  Christians only say they believe.

I’ve seen it in the school playground: ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad!’  Sometimes – very, very rarely – the dads in question will fight it out.  Usually, though, the dads just look at each other and smile about it.

Please, please, please – if you’re gonna do a ‘my gods bigger than yours’ thing, let the gods sort it out.  Stand back, and let your god do the work. 

I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the results.

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The ten commandments

I’m really going out there with this post, I’m afraid, so please accept my word that I mean no insult to anybodies beliefs.  As far as I’m concerned we should each form our own belief system, and respect those of others.  My partner and I have widely different beliefs, yet we each fully support the other – we bend around the others needs, as long as it does not conflict with our own.

Okay, that said, let’s take a look at the ten commandments.  As we all ‘know’, these were handed down by the lord our god, and form the core of our moral compass.  Or do they?

After a little research, I’ve chosen to base todays post on the article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments, so you can check up on what I say – I do not claim that this is the last word on the matter, simply that it is as good a base as any.

There may be some disagreement with this, but… from what I’ve read of the bible, Judaism is the chosen religion of god.  Certainly, it’s the only religion I remember hearing about in the Old Testament.  Whether that is ‘true’ or not, I’ve chosen to take the Judaic version of the commandments, with a brief translation/explanation from in brackets:

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. Do not make any image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above.  (No idols, no statues to/of god.  Why doesn’t this apply to Jesus on the cross?)
3. Do not swear falsely by the name of the lord. (Do not take the lords name in vain – no Jesus, Godalmighty, etc, as well as being true to your word when you swear in his name: take an oath.)
4. Keep the sabbath holy.
5. Honour your father and mother.
6. Do not murder
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not bear false witness. (No lying, no turning a blind eye to something.)
10. Do not covet your neighbours wife. (Or his house, car, job, etc.)

This next bit surprised me when I read it, and I hope it raises some questions in your minds.

Read more…

Exmas

We don’t bother with christmas in our house.  This is our choice, and we don’t make any attempt to push our view on anybody else.  We both believe, strongly, that everybody should be free to make their own choices in life – provided said choice does not adversely affect anybody else.  It is not our place to tell others how to live.

Got that?  We have made a life choice, and all we ask of others is that they respect that.  So why is it impossible for us to achieve that?  Try it, and see what happens.  The next person who mentions christmas to you, tell them ‘We don’t celebrate christmas.’  Then take cover! 

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