A Holiday I Don’t Hate

Hello. In case we haven’t met, I’m the douchebag that hates everything fun. I figuratively poop New Year’s parties. I’m a boo-humbug in October. I wouldn’t celebrate my birthday if my friends (bless their hearts) didn’t drag me out of the house. I ignore so many reasons for joy that they don’t even have terms for me for each and every occasion.

No, really. Here’s proof that I can piss on every holiday on the Federal calendar:

New Year’s Day – The day we celebrate our arbitrary timing for changing a number.
Washington’s Birthday – Thanks, guy who won our independence. And we thank you by celebrating your birthday on a day that’s never your birthday.
Memorial Day – The day we memorialize our veterans by continuing to ignore their medical and emotional needs. New seasonal-wear!
Independence Day – We celebrate the day we said we were independent, rather than the day we actually were.
Labor Day – Great job, workers. Now, back at it. These sales aren’t gonna sell themselves.
Columbus DayColumbus was a douche.
Veterans Day – Okay, this one’s pretty damn legit. Maybe something about no one knowing how to pronounce it? “Vetrens Day?” “Vennerans Day?”
Thanksgiving Day – Hey, remember that one time we got along with Native-Americans before we drove them off their continent?
Christmas Day – Y’all know this is in December to co-opt indigenous religious holidays to hasten their conversion to Christianity, right?

Seriously, that took no time at all. My typing can’t keep up with my cynicism.

Thankfully, even my cold, dead heart softens a bit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Sure, I could ramble off something cynical about holiday tokenism and probably be correct. However, if any one person deserves his own holiday, it’s MLK.

Today, you’ve undoubtedly heard the same four lines of his “I Have a Dream” Speech. You’ve heard that King was the leader of the American-American Civil Rights Movement. You’ve heard that he was a great voice for equality in the United States.

None of those things are wrong, but they are not why MLK was so damn important.

He taught us to not only refuse to fight back, but also to refuse to hate back. He knew that hate cannot be harnessed, but can only corrupt. He knew that nothing is more powerful than forgiveness. A person who turns the other cheek awakens another’s shame.

He also understood that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s why he endangered his domestic progress by speaking out against the Vietnam War. It’s why he spoke out against a society that refused to allow those born into poverty an equal opportunity to succeed. He was concerned for all people, not just his people.

Most of all, MLK is important because HE WAS RIGHT. Certainly, violence can bring about change. However, only nonviolence can bring about justice, which is the only foundation for lasting peace. We’ve seen it in India and South Africa. Sadly, we saw it only briefly in the United States. No one was able to fill King’s shoes.

That’s why we celebrate today. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the greatest voice for love, forgiveness, and justice the world’s ever seen. That’s why MLK Day is important.

Or at least, why it should be.

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Causation

The Sandy Hook Shooting made me think about guns, children, mental illness, the Bill of Rights, violent video games, and an assortment of related topics. I’ve also been thinking about collective guilt and the NFL. Concussions, suicide, premature deaths, and my role as an avid football fan have been weighing heavily on my mind since the death of Junior Seau, the first casualty whom I can remember watching play. I also play video games with violence and explosions. (Yay!)

While these topics might not seem connected, all three have led me to the same place. Our society’s glorification of violence doesn’t cause violence. It’s an effect. We glorify violence because, at heart, we are a violent people in a society that values violence. Continue reading