The recent tragedies in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt were not committed by a religion or culture, but people. People that made choices to use religion and culture to hurt and kill. People that made choices to use religion and culture to hate.
In Canada, election season had political parties asking us to make a choice on whether to call a barbaric cultural practices hotline or 911. Facebook statuses had us arguing over a women’s right to choose what she should be allowed to wear. Entering the holiday season means making a choice on how to wish someone well during a time that is characterized with peace and love. And we mustn’t forget that Remembrance Day has only just passed reminding us to honour the members of our Armed Forces that died choosing to serving Canada by defending its values and protecting its sovereignty.
Maybe we need a reminder direct from Peterborough Canada’s welcome site, under the Canadian values section that explains what choosing Canada means. “A democratic nation, Canada has a value system that is founded on equality, freedom, and respect for all individuals in society” http://www.welcomepeterborough.ca/About_Peterborough/Canadian_Values.htm
It does not state that being Canadian means wishing someone Merry Christmas. Nowhere does it state that everyone must wear Roots sweatshirts and jeans. It does not tell us what to say or how to say it, although there are 60 indigenous languages in Canada and most of us can’t even be bothered to learn 2.
Before we dash into December and leave the month of Remembrance behind there are a few things we shouldn’t choose to forget. Canadian businesses are here to make a profit. They do not wish you Merry Christmas, they wish you would spend more money. Canadian school are here to teach our children facts. There are lessons in a variety of subjects including math, science, religion and culture but there is no mention in the curriculum on how to decorate a Christmas Tree. Celebrating Christmas does not make you Canadian. Religion does not make you good or bad. Your choices define who you are. Canadians get to choose how to celebrate in their home or what to say on their facebook feeds but remember that those choices are like sparks. Sparks that can light a candle in our darkest hour….or burn down a mosque. Choose wisely
Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving