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Jewish World Review
Nov. 27, 2009
/ 10 Kislev 5770
America for the Holidays
Our country is a melting pot of cultures that has, up until recently, melded together to form a common American culture. Because America was and continues to be populated primarily by Christians of course, the values and principles of Judaeo-Christian teachings have formed the basis of what America was founded on. This is not to say that Americans who happen not to be Christian are excluded from the culture, far from it. In our country everyone is welcome to participate in the common American culture as much or as little as they wish, as well as having the freedom to personally worship in any way they choose.
Our traditional American culture is vanishing due to multiculturism, political correctness, and a general negative view of American family traditions. This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but the concept of good and evil is not taught anymore, even in many houses of worship. Many religious congregations have become quite liberal in their approach. God's rules for living (The Ten Commandments) have been replaced by sermons on why it is important to be nonjudgmental, inclusive, and compassionate. Feelings over commandments.
Our schools simply do not promote American culture as they did when I was a kid. Teaching patriotic American history, instilling pride in America, and teaching why America is the best country in the world has been replaced by celebrating cultures from other countries. Any other country's culture, it seems, is preferable to American culture. Children are not taught to be proud of being Americans, but to be proud of where their parents were from. Obviously this approach segregates people instead of bringing them together. America used to be a large melting pot, many different people coming together to become "American." Now everyone stays in their own little pots, tribal pride taking precedence over any desire in becoming apart of a larger American culture.
The notion of a common American culture is not even understood today by anyone under 40 years old. We as a people have become so fragmented that we don't share anything anymore. Popular music was once something most of the country could share in, no more. Magazines like Life and The Saturday Evening Post were read by all. Everyone listened to the same radio shows, watched the same movies, and for the first few decades, television shows were a common entertainment for all. No more.
The Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's holiday in America has always been a part of the common American culture. Beyond the purely religious, it is an American celebration time open to all in one degree or another. You don't have to worship any particular way to engage in the basic loving, sharing, and giving that has become the hallmark of the American holiday time.
Singing American folk songs and Christmas carols have by and large been done away with in the public schools. Songs of Christmas are deemed to be insensitive to those of other religions and religious songs in general are deemed insensitive to those who are atheist. This is what we've come to. And why are American folk songs not taught anymore? Are they deemed insensitive to those from other nations?
Christmastime in America was a time for all Americans, Christian and non-Christian alike to come together as one people under G0d. A warm, comforting time of year when everyone went around feeling happy and joyful. It was about family and tradition, no matter what your family or tradition was. Yes, Christians celebrated the birth of Christ. Jewish people had Hanukah. Others had whatever they had. But as a nation, as the United States of America we all had the holidays. This is a season for all Americans.
A season where the American people can have a spell of good feelings toward each other, when giving is substituted for taking, when people get beyond themselves and look to a higher being, when they give thanks for their blessings, this is a very good season. A full heart, a warm fire, a good meal, and family and friends at one's side is a season we all can happily take part in.
I yearn for the common American culture of my youth, especially at this time of the year. It was wonderful to be part of a commonality that spoke of peace on earth and good will to all. A time of giving and sharing. A time of coming home, of being with family. A time of love and laughter and joy. Of opening one's heart to those less fortunate. And in the words of Tiny Tim, of G0d blessing us, everyone.
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