Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas for non-Christians

Well, it's that time of year again.  Christmas.  Lights, trees, carols,  As a non-Christian, this holiday has a very different meaning for me.

For many, Christmas is a disillusionment, being far more about presents than it is about the actual religious holiday.  In my case, we are modest about gift-giving, but the spirit of the season is an important one.  Let me explain.

I think there is sufficient historical evidence to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed (despite the fact that he probably would have looked very different from the depiction above).  This being the precedent, if we dismiss the idea that he was directly the son of God, his story is no less amazing, and no less inspiring.

He would have been born of modest means, but was well-studied in the traditional spiritual beliefs, being able at a young age to debate religious scholars at an equal level.  Being a young man, he set off on his path, passionate in his beliefs.  He was both student and teacher, eagerly sharing his ideals with everyone, regardless of their background.  He believed so deeply in his cause that he was willing to die for it.  In doing so, he set in motion a chain of events that would alter human history for the following 2,000 years and beyond.

What did he believe?  That all are equal regardless of race, background, or social status.
That all deserve mercy and compassion and above all  That we must follow our spiritual beliefs wholeheartedly, even when inconvenient - even unto death...without compromise.
That austerity and servitude to each other were keys to achieving happiness.

As a parent, I can want nothing more for my boys than that they accept other people unconditionally, without regard for color, race, or belief; that they carry with them a heart overflowing with compassion and love; that they are merciful to the weak and helpless; that they are at times both student and teacher in their lives; and that they follow their passion with total resolve, even when inconvenient and even if it means risking their lives.

Most importantly, that they fully understand that one need not be divine to change the world.

I cannot say whether or not Jesus was divine.  What I can say is that the legacy he left was an enduring one, and that at this time of year I am inspired by his example.

May you all have a happy holiday and see your dreams fulfilled.

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