First, I'd like to thank all of the people who purchased the Kindle edition of The Religion Virus on Christmas day! There is a certain delicious irony to this, and the day isn't over yet. (I love Kindle – I get up-to-the-minute reports on my sales!)
I was contemplating a complaint about how the pagan Winter Harvest/Solstice celebration has been co-opted by Christmas and Hanukkah. But wait ... I'm not even a pagan. How can I whine about that? So I guess there's not much to do but to go along with the spirit of it! And in spite of my frequent criticisms of the bad that comes from blind religious faith, I do admire the spirit of Christmas.
My favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life. But it's ironic: even though it's supposedly about Christmas, there is almost no religion in it. It does have one religious icon, the hapless, somewhat comedic angel named Clarence who escorts the young suicidal banker George Bailey (Jimmie Stewart) into a bleak George-less future. But the core message of Wonderful Life, the part I love the most, is that it shows how each person's life here on this Earth does matter. It shows us that being good and kind to one another is the highest ethic of all.
It doesn't matter whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jain or anything else, we can all appreciate this message. We may feel that the world is too huge, and each of us is too insignificant to make any meaningful difference. Recessions, wars, crime, natural disasters ... sometimes it seems like no matter how hard we try, it will all be for nothing. Why bother?
But we do bother, because it does matter.
A million years from today nobody will know who we were. Our existence will have been erased from the universe. But on this Christmas day and Winter Celebration, we're reminded that our lives do matter. Not to the universe, not to the Earth, and not to the six billion people on Earth. We're each too insignificant, too unimportant when you look from too far away.
But up close, our lives and actions matter. We are important to our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our villages and towns. To these people, we can make a difference. One person at a time, we can make the world a little happier, a little safer, and a better place for our children.
So Merry co-opted Pagen Winter Celebration to everyone! Be merry, be safe, and remember that you make a real difference in the lives of the people you love.