There’s a tradition in America that extends beyond the religious context of the framework for our country. This tradition is the major premise behind an important document in American history written in 1791. This document expresses in its first paragraph the tone to which I’d like to set my argument.
The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights references the freedom of religion and its practice.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”
During the years, in order to allow the development in our society, we have systematically adopted a form of censorship in our speech and topics of discussion in order to better prevent exclusion or not offend others.
Merriam-Webster Online defines political correctness as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”
While I hold the respect of my peers and fellow citizens in mind, I cannot help but notice how laundered our holiday season has become, and how the pride of each religion has been bled in an attempt to remain an all-inclusive celebration.
There is a fine line between pride for a group to which a person belongs, and a lack of respect for the culture of others. The disparity may be most easily compared when looking at the difference between cultural relativism and absolute relativism.
Cultural relativism is an anthropological precept that morality is culturally specific and within the context of a particular culture’s beliefs. Absolute relativism is an extreme adaptation of this, suggesting that all beliefs are moral because they are dependent on an infinite continuum of varying culture. Where a cultural relativist would say that every culture should be ethically open to practice their own religion, an absolute relativist would say that there’re no measurable ethics and for each religious culture, anything that promotes their practice has no moral right or wrong.
America seems to have assumed the more extremist view when it comes to the holiday season. Instead of acknowledging or promoting the diversity in religion and cultural celebration that makes up the American population, in the name of political correctness, these lines have been erased or blanketed in order to prevent offense to different groups.
While a history of discrimination exists within most societies, the intellectual shrewdness to discern between a greeting meant of goodwill and one of hate can likely be recognized. To say “Happy Bodhi Day,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” to another person should not assume the recipient understands the complete history and religion behind it.
Only the intention is necessary to regard this as a salutation to wish the other well. Two individuals that speak different languages can often communicate feelings and emotions. Neither party needs to speak the other’s native language to know whether or not there’s cordiality and amity.
In order to preserve the freedom of speech within America, no one should feel obligated to censor himself or herself when their intentions are without harm and to spread good cheer.
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