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Friday, December 25, 2009

Leftbanker’s Christmas Message to the World*

Hey, what the hell, if the Pope can do it then so can I? This may seem a bit ironic considering the fact that not only am I not a Christian but I’m a life-long atheist. Yes, I really mean life-long. I never for a second believed in any of the shit my Catholic parents more or less forced us to endure as children. I suffered through mass after excruciatingly boring mass, at least until I was smart enough to tell the folks, god bless'em, that I was going to the early mass. With that said I skipped out on church and went to the park and played baseball, football, basketball, or skated. I am the only person I know who had “Atheist” proudly emblazoned on U.S. military dog tags. I think this is sort of a gutsy move for a young kid. I really hate Christmas and always have. Even as a kid I thought that it was retarded. With that said, I would like to deliver my Christmas address to the world.

OK, maybe not to the whole world because to be truly honest, most of the world probably cares less about Christmas than I do—god bless them. You see, most of the world isn’t Christian either. Granted, a lot of them believe in some other form of hooey that is sometimes even more repugnant than the tenets of Christianity but that is something for another essay. This fact isn’t going to stop me from giving my message to the world. My message is one of enlightenment and peace and not nearly as lame as the words that spew out of the Pope’s mouth on this day every year since I can remember.

What I really think is fantastic is how a lot of people in America now have the courage to say out loud that religion is bullshit. Well, maybe it isn’t courage, maybe it is just the same herd mentality, the courage of the mob, the sort of thing that made religion popular long ago. Now we are just a mob that is a bit more rational. I just think that if you have arrived at this point in the 21st century and live in the West and you still believe in these far-fetched fairy tales, then you haven’t been reading much. Why do I need a stupid fairytale like the Old Testament Genesis when I have Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale? And just how am I supposed to feel about Christmas? Should I be waiting patiently for Santa? Should I send a birthday card to Jesus? I am grateful for one thing about Christmas: it is a day off from work.

And what do we do when we have a day off from work? We go to a bar and get loaded and try to hook up. Pathetic you say? Tell me how you spend the day and I’ll probably tell you the same thing. The good news is that in my immigrant-intensive barrio of Russafa (I used the Valenciano spelling of “Russafa” instead of the Spanish “Ruzafa” to be more ethnic), there are so many non-Christians around here that you would hardly notice that it’s a holiday. No one seemed to have sent the “Christmas is a holiday” email to many of the bars, restaurants, hilal butcher shops, newsstands, green grocers, and other businesses.

Here is another irony: I am not one of those grumps who have a hemorrhoid whenever he sees a Christmas tree or a nativity scene in a public place in a supposedly secular nation (Yes, Spain is a secular nation—at least on paper). What does upset me is when otherwise rational people tell me that they believe in this silliness. The truth is, I just don’t believe that they really believe it themselves. I just think that a lot of folks are in so deep that they are afraid to admit that it’s all bullshit. They are afraid to break the cycle of tradition that has been handed down to them. It’s like being afraid to have the family pet put to sleep after you receive the diagnosis that it has a fatal and debilitating disease. It’s like Republicans not wanting to admit that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are complete pieces of shit because these people have said otherwise for too long. Saying anything to the contrary now will make them look stupid and lacking in foresight. All I have to say to them is that being stupid and lacking in foresight is a hell of a lot better than continuing to believe in a dangerous lie even after all the facts are in.

I know what a lot of people would say if they read what I have written thus far. They would say that I need to “lighten up” and “chill out.” These are people who generally have never had an opinion in their entire lives and haven’t ever come close to having an original thought. Religion is tailor-made for people who are terrified of ever having an original thought; it’s made for people who simply want to blindly accept everything that is placed before them to save themselves the bother of making their own decision; religion is for people too afraid to look behind the curtain.

I suppose that I had it easy. I grew up in a being exposed primarily to Catholicism which is about as ridiculous as religion gets…unless it’s Islam or Judaism or Hinduism or Mormonism (Is that an “ism?). It was really easy for me to resist Catholic beliefs because I never really understood what those were, exactly. I mean, come on, saint? What the hell are saints? And I remember my priest trying to explain the holy trinity to my class of first graders. My eyes rolled back in my head so hard I almost fell over backwards.
I think that Judaism is also pretty damn vague as far as what they believe in or what purpose their religion serves. At least Islam provides a very clear-cut set of beliefs about how you should comport yourself in this life and what you should expect when you croak. It may all be perfectly stupid but at least it is comprehensible to the average slob—and I am nothing but an average slob.

The thing is, I am an average slob with a healthy respect for the role doubt should play in a person’s life. I have never been one to take anything at face value. I have never been prone to believe in Bigfoot or ghosts or extraterrestrials. I have never experienced anything in my life that couldn’t be explained by the laws of science. I hold astrology in complete contempt, as any sane and rational person should, so why should I fall for religion, or Santa Claus? Santa seems to be in the same league of as religion when it comes to farfetched ideas. Sorry, I just can’t buy into any of it.

Would the world be a better or worse place if all of a sudden people just stopped acting out all of the Christmas nonsense that has become so much a part of our consumerist society? I doubt it could possibly be worse for it. I think the world would be a much better place and a hell of a lot less annoying—at least for me.

*I have always loved the Charlie Brown Christmas special so I guess that I’m not a total asshole in the eyes of Christians.