Friends and family are coming together this week to bond and strengthen their relationships over the holidays they share. Jews are celebrating Passover, Pagans are celebrating Ostara, Christians are celebrating the religious side Easter, and non-believers are celebrating the non-religious side of Easter. These are very personal and important celebrations to many people who are your friends and family.
And so, out of respect for those around you, I must ask once again… DON’T BE A DICK!*
Different people have different beliefs dealing with this time of year, and there is nothing wrong with that. People become dicks when they can’t tolerate those differences; they can’t tolerate someone can have ideas or beliefs different from their own. As a result, what should be a joyous occasion that brings people together can quickly degenerate into what is essentially mockery and bullying.
Everybody thinks their beliefs are true. Everybody believes they can present a proof for said belief, and when pressed, everybody can poke holes in the other person’s proof (and usually both sides are loaded with logical fallacies people will never admit to). In the end, the real proof doesn’t lie in the name of your God, the names of your gods/goddesses, or your non-belief in a god, it lies in how you treat other people. If you can hold your belief and not harm another, and if you can respect the right for others to hold their beliefs in peace, the world is better for you being in it. But if you have to impose your beliefs on another, or mock another for having different beliefs, you’re kind of a dick. If you find yourself walking a grey area between dickishness and non-dickishness, I yet again have some useful tips to help you negotiate your way and avoid being a dick on the holidays.
1) Knockoff the undead Jesus jokes. When Voltaire first made the joke on stage, he was relating a story about what his kid said, and premised it by first saying that you really shouldn’t make fun of another’s religion. The joke today has had that premise removed, making it more of a mockery of another person’s beliefs, therefore a dick move, and it was only original and witty when first said by Voltaire’s kid.
2) Acknowledging that other people share this holiday season is not the same as having your beliefs attacked. The fact that people in the house next door are celebrating Ishtar instead of Jesus doesn’t actually affect you in any way. If you truly don’t share their beliefs, then the God, god, or goddess you don’t believe in won’t do anything to you. If you are worried about their souls or character, just remember you are taking up the role of your belief’s representative, and if you act like a dick, you are presenting your beliefs as a dick.
3) People don’t steal beliefs. People may borrow, adopt, and adapt, but that isn’t stealing. Just because one group has a holiday similar to yours doesn’t mean they robbed you of it. You can still celebrate yours the way most personal to you. If anything, the fact that some holidays are convergent just points to a common humanity, and calls for common human decency.
4) If you see something happening that could offend you or someone else, say something. You never know which of your friends could be getting hurt. An even if its not a friend, people don’t deserve to be mistreated. When it comes down to it, not speaking up really is the same as giving passive approval. By all means, be polite first, but say something.
5) If someone points out that something you said was offensive, apologize and move on. People make mistakes all the time, and people don’t always realize the effect of the things they say. If a person is suggesting that something you said was offensive, a simple “I did not intend to offend and I will take the statement back,” is all you need to fix it. Essentially, when a person states that you made an insulting statement, you are given a choice between a human being and the statement. Dicks choose words over people.
6) Be careful of what you say in the first place, especially with jokes. Every bully claims that their mocking comments are just jokes, but that doesn’t mean that the many suicides we have recently been seeing were just the result of people not having a sense of humor. There are also a lot of jokes whose sole purpose is to propagate prejudicial stereotypes. It’s easy for humor to become hurtful. If you want to walk the gray area with humor, tread carefully. If your joke offends somebody, apologize. If it really was just a joke, you shouldn’t be so invested in it that you would allow someone to be hurt by it. But if you feel the need to defend a hurtful joke by tooth and nail, then frankly, that’s a sign that you did mean it, and you’re acting like a dick.
*also known as “Wheaton’s Law”