A Christmas Carol

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The Article

Last week, at a Starbucks in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a woman at the drive-thru paid not just for her drinks, but for the drinks for the car behind her. When that car drove up to the window and heard the news, he offered to pay for the car behind him. For more than two hours and over a hundred cars, people shared the Christmas spirit.

Two weeks ago, when I wrote about the importance of saying “Merry Christmas”, I received an overwhelming email response—beating out even the response to the homework column I wrote a while back. We are riled up over this lack of respect for Christmas.

And yet the elites—in advertising, education, the media, and more—don’t seem to be listening. Take a newsletter sent around to parents of elementary students in Spokane, Washington. It included a calendar of important December dates, mentioning Hanukkah, Human Rights Day, Eid al-Adha, the first day of winter, and Kwanzaa. Notice anything missing? They didn’t, either, until parents complained.

The desire to help those from other cultures feel included is admirable. But this should not mean that we give up our own culture. And indeed, when we fail to defend our culture, we’re like that 101st car that broke the Starbucks chain. We’re happy to take what we can from those who have gone before us, but we don’t want to ante up and pass it along. This week, I’m thinking particularly of Aqsa Parvez, the 16-year-old girl from Mississauga who was allegedly the victim of Canada’s first honour killing. She just wanted to go to school without her Islamic head covering. Her parents objected. Her father is charged with strangling her, and her brother with obstructing justice.

Mohamed Elmasry, the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, has said that this is a teenager issue. And rebelling against one’s parents certainly is a teenager issue. But when one’s father then turns around and murders you, as this man allegedly has done, in a manner which bears a remarkable resemblance to honour killings in the mostly Islamic world, it’s not a teenager issue anymore. It’s a cultural one. Whether or not honour killings are specifically prescribed in Islam, they are certainly most prevalent in those cultures, where women can also be lashed for being gang raped (see the Saudi Qatif girl, for instance). Women don’t share the same rights in such societies as they do in Canada, and this contributes to the problem.

So which culture is Canada going to have? One in which we say that Canada was founded on certain values and traditions that must be preserved? Or one in which we say that everyone’s culture is equal?

I don’t think everyone’s culture is equal. I think there is a rich and noble tradition in Western civilization. Despite our many mistakes, we have brought hope, decency, freedom, equality and liberty to the world. It does not mean that other cultures have not also contributed; it is simply acknowledging that what our culture contributed was important. And the heirs of that culture are not those with white skin, but those with any colour skin who similarly adopt this worldview. If we abandon these things and fail to defend them, we also abandon the very foundation of the freedom and liberty that we share.

So let’s turn back to Christmas. I’d like to leave you with these words penned by Dickens, who put them in the mouth of Scrooge’s affable nephew in his work A Christmas Carol: “I have always thought of Christmastime…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

In other words, Christmas doesn’t show partiality. It says we are all equal before God, and before each other. We all share that bond of humanity. That is an important truth, which we must remember is not shared the world over. It is our heritage. Let’s not abandon it now.

And so I say to you, Merry Christmas, and God bless us, everyone. Now pass it on.

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