Confessions of a Scrooge

Truthfully, I don’t like Christmas. It’s the perfect collusion of business and religion, the populace wandering like drugged sheep through a series of economically inspired motions with puppet strings laden with Biblical half-truths and myths. In short, if you want to get people to do things en masse, wielding the power of God is a good way to get it done. I understand the incredible negativity contained withing that statement. Please understand that I like gift giving and the exchanging of pleasantries to those you wish to keep contact with throughout one’s life. It’s the culture of religious guilt and coercion that I can’t stand (can you tell that I was raised Catholic?).

Religious coercion is what fuels the Holocaust, the Lords Resistance Army, the Japanese occupation of east Asia, the Spanish Inquisition, American slavery, lynchings, rapes in the Congo, Al Qaeda, the Bosnian genocide and any number of other human atrocities. Granted, buying gifts at Christmas isn’t in the least bit comparable to that litany of human horrors. The stage is set, however. Religion is like keeping nuclear weapons. Governments can wield it’s power at any time, to insure maximum destructive results.

This is exactly the reason that Jefferson and company pushed for a secular state. The founding fathers envisioned a limited government. With the power of God behind it, the powers of government are unlimited. Conservative figures in the United States know the power of religion, hence the disdain for secularism and the infusion of religious symbolism into our state discourse and the wish to have prayer in schools. Religious plurality and secular government in America is our best check against a runaway state. Conservative leaders would do well to visit Iran.

Mostly though, I dislike that people on one day a year feel the need to be charitable to the poor, but for the rest of the year, they blame them for all the world’s ills.

Dear Christians: I like that you want to be charitable to the poor for single day out of 365. Now stop giving tax breaks to the wealthy and start providing health care, education and peaceful opportunities.

But that’s a tall order.

Go forth, though, and be kind to your neighbor. Give gifts. Respectfully listen to people you don’t agree with. Be aware of the humanity of people everywhere, even if they may not speak the same language as you, and may not have the same opportunities. Try this every day and we might actually make it through all of this.

Here, though, is one of my favorite Christmas songs:

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

3 responses to “Confessions of a Scrooge”

  1. renxkyoko says :

    That is so true.

    Here I am , preparing a Christmas feast, while millions of children are starving.

    What are the people in war -torn countries doing right now…. they don”t even know if they are going to see the sun come out tomorrow.

    I feel so guilty.

  2. Pete Larson says :

    Enjoy your Christmas feast. There’s no reason to feel guilty. Some of us are just born in the right place at the right time.

    That you don’t forget everyone else, is important in itself, I believe.

    One thing I have learned from Malawi, is that even the kids who have little food and even less opportunity, still know how to laugh hysterically.

  3. Luis-Sama says :

    Yes, it is about joy for the enjoyment of happiness. No Kurishmas pope approved is necessary. Good post as always!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: