E. Winter Tashlin

We Are Here [Picture Tells A Story]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | December 27, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christmas, happy holidays, humanity, identity, milky way, PTAS, race, religion, space

here_PTAS.jpg

For all of its flaws, we live in a remarkable melting pot of different beliefs, practices, and cultures, although it is safe to say that there has never been a time in our country's relatively brief life when that has been easy. There is always friction as individuals and demographics work to find the balance between the cultures of their origin and the ever-changing landscape of American society. This friction is frequently accompanied by widespread derision or discrimination, although in time those derided populaces often come to be accepted as part of "mainstream" America.

We may hold on to our other identities, but for many people, those identities don't play a dominant role in day to day life. American culture has always sought to have us be Americans first, and whether you see that as good or bad, it undeniably is.

Until the Winter holiday season comes around and reminds us just how different we are.

This time of year our racial, cultural, and religious (or lack thereof) differences are laid bare to public scrutiny unlike at any other. From Fox's ridiculous "War on Christmas," to the National Christmas Tree, to endless debates about "happy holidays" vs. "merry Christmas," and so much more, the holiday season inevitably brings with it a renewed awareness that the United States is both dominated culturally by Protestant Christianity, and yet is not, in fact, a Christian nation.

That element of this time of year is but one of many reasons it is my least favorite. A feeling of otherness around the holiday time goes back to being a non-Christian child growing up in the eighties and nineties. This was when my school friends first realized that I was different from them, and religious differences became a convenient bullying subject every December. Also, I hated singing about the "Baby Jesus" and the coming of "Christ Our Savior," which we did every year in choir.

Our differences are important and deserving of recognition, but it is worth remembering that regardless of how we think, worship (or not), look, and live, there are things we all irrevocably share, not only with our countrymen, but with the world.

We are all clinging to the skin of a small rock hurtling through space at sixty-six thousand miles an hour, while also spinning at a comparatively sedate thousand miles an hour. Our sun, and us with it, is furthermore drifting through the expanse of deep space.

There is almost certainly life on other worlds circling other suns, but the whole of humanity, all that we are and all that we've been, exists only in the tiny cushion of gas just above the surface of our planet. Measured against the vast darkness that envelopes us, all our differences shouldn't hold a candle next to the awareness that we are the only human beings in the universe, and all we've got is each other.

Back here on the ground, there is an immensity of work that needs doing if we are going to live in a global society built on a bedrock of justice and compassion. Perhaps, at this time of year more than any other, it is important to also remember that no matter our differences, we're also united by our shared humanity.


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