When it comes to mastery of science and ability to help humanity reach the stars and explore through knowledge of physics, it will be men like Neil deGrasse Tyson who will likely have made significant contribution to that end. And while we as a species may be a long ways away from Star Trek-esque exploration of space, we are really doing ourselves no favor when we are bickering over the semantics of a word.
I am a man with friends from varying backgrounds: gender identity, religion/no religion, political views, ethnicity, political beliefs and so on. At the end of the day, all these little identifiers we use to label people go into explaining who they are as a person and what their worldview may be, and what they may want out of our society, but in the end they should be immaterial. We should judge people on how nice they are and good to be around, simply put.
Beyond that thought, it seems to me that Mr. Tyson is either overly quoted when he makes a Twittering as the one above, or he just likes to rouse arguments and stir the pot of society too much. In the past week, I’ve told multiple people ‘Happy Holidays!’
When I say it, I am saying, “I wish you well and hope you have a nice time with your family.” To me, the religious context is gone from the phrase and it is a cultural artifact passed down from generation to generation, which is the topical crux of Tyson’s statement. But the intent of the Twittering seems indubitably more than just a simple statement, and in application, is being used as such in social media.
I cannot think of too many people I know who are trying to make a political statement by saying Happy Holidays. When I say Happy Holidays, the bona-fide context of it is not to imply a belief in God, but just to utter a cultural tradition that makes me think of sitting by a fireside radio with my parents and grandmother, watching ABC Disney movies on my kid’s days off from school, having ridiculous amounts of family and dinner guests to our home and just in general, trying to have a happy time in life in a sometimes very volatile world. I hope others can have such happiness this time of year, and beyond that. In our culture, the little utterance “Happy Holidays’ to a person is intended to convey such a warm wish.
The Holiday Season is a beautiful time that all people should share and enjoy. You will be exposed to multiple cultures: accept it!
If you sneeze, some random lady may say ‘Bless you.’ Tell her thank you and don’t worry about your soul escaping, it won’t, even though that was the original belief. A freethinker may just walk up to you and give you a Flying Spaghetti Monster ornament for your tree (which one of my co-workers did last year at our Christmas party). Say ‘Thank you!’, because the fact that you received a Flying Spaghetti Monster ornament at a Christmas party, a holiday originally intended to celebrate the birth of a man on a day it probably did not occur because a group of people who worship him wanted to run interference on a ‘pagan’ festival is just the beauty of America.
We all can know the historicity implied in a word, but even more importantly we can all be the type of people who embrace multiculturalism and recognize it as our greatest strength. And accepting the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ as a part of our American culture, and not something to paint as a labeled moniker to go at war with, is something we should be in the habit of doing.