Happy Merry! My Somewhat Secular Life

20131226-103843.jpg

Religion.

Just by typing the word I feel like there are already some people becoming uncomfortable reading this blog.

I’ll be honest. I’m kind of uncomfortable writing it.

The way I see it, however, when people become uncomfortable in any given situation, the wheels of stimulation are turning in their heads and that is good enough for me.

I’d be lying if I said my thumb isn’t considering hitting the delete key on my phone. But I’ll resist (for now).

After all, it’s discomfort that can create truly deep conversations, providing all parties involved are showing mutual respect towards one another.

The inspiration of this blog actually happened because of two encounters at toll booths on December 25.

The first toll booth I pulled up to hosted a woman wearing reindeer antlers and a blinking light necklace. Obviously, I knew when she handed back my change a “Merry Christmas” was sure to follow. When she placed the money in my hand and gave the obvious greeting I replied with my standard greeting, “Happy Holidays!”

The second toll booth I pulled up to hosted another woman wearing a Hawaiian styled shirt. Our exchange was nothing but “Have a nice day!” and my reply “You too!”

Let me clarify, I am both a religious and spiritual person with a deep faith in God. Like everyone else, I have my views of life and a structure to which I live.

And for me, I’m not one to engage in religious discussions unless I’m specifically asked and the ground rules for mutual respect are firmly placed.

Typically, my religious thoughts and views stay in my mind and in my home. To me there is no compulsion in religion. Meaning, I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to follow any specific religion.

That being said, I’m not certain as to when any holiday greeting, religious or otherwise became offensive.

Now, I say I live a somewhat secular life because, as stated before, religion and God are very dear to me. At the same time secularism is as well.

Living and being born in America, I have been blessed with a nation that hosts all cultures, colors and faiths.

Living in America, I’ve thankfully been given the opportunity and have taken the important steps of going out of my way to meet and form bonds with people of all cultures, colors and faiths because what I hear and read on the news doesn’t cut it for me.

I’m a person who must experience things first hand, from reliable sources, before my thoughts on any given subject are formed.

And because of my willingness to do so, I’ve gained respect for those around me and an understanding that even though we all have differing views we can still understand one another, without having to agree with one another, in very peaceful ways.

That being said, I prefer life outside my doors to be completely secular. Not only for my sake but for the benefit of others.

Do I get offended by the use of “Merry Christmas”? Absolutely not. I understand the intent behind the greeting just like I understand those expressing it are expressing their beliefs even if they are assuming I am right there with them.

Do I prefer the use of “Happy Holidays” instead? Absolutely, because I prefer people don’t assume things about me. (Though I’ll admit guilt to making a plethora of assumptions about others myself.)

The use of “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” will always be a staple in my life, for all those around me, because I respect we are a nation of so many differences through and through.

I believe in being inclusive in my well wishes particularly since we are, fortunately, a country that claims to be inclusive.

If we truly are a nation of inclusion, people of any faith should not be offended when various religious greetings are used around them.

My hope is that those who wish a “Happy Hanukkah”, “Merry Christmas” or “Ramadan Mubarak” at one time of year truly don’t get offended when hearing “Happy Hanukah”, “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Merry Christmas” another time of year.

For me, it’s all (faiths respected) or nothing.

“Merry Christmas” may come from
Christianity.

“Ramadan Mubarak” and “Eid Mubarak” may come from Islam.

“Happy Chanukah” may come from Judaism.

And many other greetings, that I’m admittedly ignorant about, come from many other religions.

Providing you are not Atheist, we all have one thing in common, belief that we all come from God.

Regardless of who you are, where you are from, and what you believe, my stance remains that all human beings deserve love, inclusion and respect.

Until, we are a nation that comfortably accepts that we are different, believes in true inclusion and genuinely respects one another it will always be “Happy Holidays” or another variation from me. And know when I say those words they come straight from my heart.

So, Merry Happy to everyone.

Now where’s that delete key?

“Insta” Gratification: QUICK! Read this NOW!

20131223-143602.jpg

Like most, I’ve become accustomed to the speed with which information is gathered, dispersed and received.

Technology has boomed so rapidly that it’s become second nature for me to constantly have my phone at my fingertips.

Even when I’m not using it practically I’m tapping it’s screen out of habit, and maybe even comfort, because I find the new iPhone OS to be quite airy and soothing.

Just looking at the apps “float” on the screen relaxes me especially when I choose an ethereal background image.

So yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I love my phone. I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m addicted to it too.

Certainly, it has it’s benefits with accessibility and functionality. It comes in quite handy when I’m on road trips and for that funny Facebook moment I just have to update about…immediately.

Even more importantly, I’ve sadly justified that my phone has proven to be beneficial while walking through parking lots because I’m always ready to wield my phone as a weapon if need be.

So, yes, there are many benefits to technology, granted, some unconventional ones like the one listed above or as Stephen Colbert once pointed out, using an iPad to chop salsa.

Any way you look at it, being “connected” is a double edged sword.

On one hand a pro is that I have the world and all of the people I know right at my fingertips. On the other hand…I have the world and all of the people I know right at my fingertips.

Currently, I’m using my phone to blog and listen to a playlist on Spotify while my brother is driving us to the beach. A text message notification from
a friend just flashed at the top of my screen only moments after I took a photo of everyone in our car that I texted to my father.

All of the above may be good and well but really when I think about it, my God, what a waste of time.

Instead of writing about the palm trees zooming past my window I should actually be looking at them.

Instead of talking about the music I’m listening to I should actually be listening to it.

Instead of blogging about the pictures I’m taking of my family I should be in the center of their universe engaging them in conversation.

Unfortunately, addictions are a bitch.
But admitting it is the first step.

So on that note, rather than enjoying the airiness of my iPhone I’m going to shut down my phone, roll down the windows of my car, breathe in the fresh air and soak up some real sun…right after I tweet about.