Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cabin fever mashup: Santa and the Foreign Service...

In case you folks elsewhere reading this don't know it, it's about 20 or so degrees out with several inches of snow on the ground - a rarity for the Pacific NW. Luckily we have ample food and beverages. And it may become an ice storm today. Business as usual.

For the morning tea prior to zazen, I consider that if the world actually goes to hell in a handbasket, perhaps I should join the foreign service.

According to the US Foreign Service website, I could do this, family permitting...

And it also appears I was right to tell my son the truth about Santa Claus.
Or at least I have no regrets. Some parent of some kid complained to my son's teacher because their kid asked my kid if he believed in Santa Claus, he told the truth, and the parent complained about their "beliefs" being trampled upon. My son's quite an atheist, but we've taught him to show respect to any and all religious believers, no matter how ridiculous, but Santa Claus?

Geez, that's not even a religion! And my son, in a particularly mercenary, pre-Buddhist fashion, gets the meaning of Christmas: people get stuff. Some people actually give stuff. But there's stuff.

Evidently I'm not alone with the Santa thing...

With everyone from teachers and celebrities to parents and psychologists weighing in, the battle lines in this debate are starkly drawn. One camp dismisses the Santa story as a pernicious lie that commercializes Christmas, excludes non-Christians and ruptures the trust between parent and child; the other embraces it as a bit of harmless fun that reflects the imagination and wonder of childhood. On both sides, the strength of feeling can be startling. One blogger writes that lying to your children about Santa is a "form of child abuse."

Nor is the sound and fury confined to the online world. I know a couple in Manhattan -- where else? -- who have hired a therapist to help their children cope with the news that Father Christmas is not real.

Santa is also a hot topic in Britain, where I live. Earlier this month, a school near Manchester fired a substitute teacher for telling a class of 7-year-olds that the jolly old man in red did not exist. A few days ago, I brought up the subject with parents at a party in London. One woman stormed off without saying a word. "Last week, a few of us got into a really horrible argument about how to handle the Santa question," explained her friend. "Obviously she's still very worked up."

Of course there is a very Buddhist way to do this: in the same way Kuan Yin is real, a manifestation of our own compassion, Santa Claus could be a bodhisattva of generosity.

But that Santa wouldn't be the Santa, just like it's kind of cheating to call Jesus Christ a bodhisattva (JC may or may not have existed, and certainly not in any way the 4 canonical gospels portray him). That Jesus isn't a Christian Jesus anyway and it's the cultural equivalent of an anachronism to pretend Jesus Christ is a boddhisattva.

So I'll leave you with a Deep Thought: How come one of Santa's reindeer wasn't named Nixon?

Update: the whole flavor of the article in the post is "What does it matter?" and I don't entirely disagree one way or the other; it's just that it made more sense for two middle aged folks to not put up any pretenses around our young son.

But take a look at this comment by "wpguest1":

I cancelled my paid subscription a long time ago due to its virulently pro-athiest, pro-illegal alien agendas. But these themes were only the most obvious symptoms. The underlying sickness was deeper, and even more subtle.

The opening line of a Style article from a while back epitomizes what the Post has become. Discussing how impoverished Peruvians eat guinea pigs, and showcasing efforts to bring this dish to America, the story asks: "Ever wonder whether a cabernet sauvignon or merlot would better complement your childhood pet?" It's a perfect example of the tastelessness that pervades today's Post.

Maybe some people find this stuff "edgy" or "fun" because of the shock value. Or maybe it's just a subtle attempt to replace traditional American cultural values and standards with ones from a third-world underclass - or better yet, from Josef Stalin's special brand of Communism.

The bottom line: like many of our politicians, the Post has lost (or chosen to throw away) its moral compass - all for the sake of a quick buck, or a short term gamble that controversy = "excitement."

Maybe some readers like these changes. But for every joker who enjoys reading this stuff, there are 5 of us who are disgusted. So - the Post is free to print what it wants, but the rest of us are free to cancel our subscriptions because this rag no longer reflects our values.

Pushing out stories that paint wrong as right, and right as wrong - as the Washington Post empire continues to crumble.

Sounds like that strategy of pandering to athiests, illegal aliens, family pet eaters, and Santa haters is really paying off.

I never realized I was on the side of Stalin by telling my kid Santa was a myth!

Oh no!

I'm on the wrong side!

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