The War on Christmas?

redcupOnce again facebook is brimming with posts mocking the “War on Christmas”. This most recent target is Starbucks who this year has opted for plain red paper cups with their logo in green. Some internet preacher (Joshua Feuerstein) has decided that not having reindeer, snowmen, evergreen trees, or ornaments means they are attacking Christmas. Because snowmen and penguins scream Christmas, right?  Why aren’t people who live south of the snow-line getting bent out of shape because of all this “White Christmas” focus? Speaking as someone with 63 years of New England Christmas experience, we get really excited when we have snow on Christmas because it’s NOT guaranteed to happen. The big snow comes in January and February. Yes, winter is a lot more fun when you can ski or skate, but if we didn’t always have snow in Maine, I’m sure Virginia and California much less Florida through New Mexico don’t celebrate Christmas with sledding and snowball flights.

It’s not about Starbucks choosing a simple red cup this year, it’s about the feeling of insecurity we have when we are surrounded by people warning us to be careful about greeting co-workers by saying “Merry Christmas”, or holiday decorations being left in storage in case someone says they’re offensive. Far more people are worried about whether they are giving offense than are taking offense.

I am fully aware that when a culture has a default setting, some individuals will take that as an excuse to abuse those who don’t follow that setting. There have been times when kids, feeling as if they have seen support of their parents, school administration and others, have been physically violent to people they saw as different: different religion, different race, different culture… Not all adults, not even all political leaders teach kids to respect diversity. They aren’t all comfortable with it themselves.

Humans evolved in mostly homogeneous tribal cultures. Safety consisted of making sure everyone was at least close enough to the norm that they couldn’t pose a threat. We have intellectually chosen to create a diverse culture, but we reassure ourselves by pretending that we really are homogeneous- with sprinkles of difference for “interest”. We’re a “Christian” nation, and the people of other religion are few enough to not count (white and “colored”, well off and poor, able and handicapped, fill in your own difference), but when as the parenthetical examples indicate, the cumulative impact of all the many acceptable differences are noticed, our old tribal mindset kicks in.

We remember how secure we felt as kids when our parents explained things to us simply, and took care of us. As adults we see there’s a lot more to take into account. Our minds tell us that it’s because of the changes we’ve seen that things have gotten harder. When we were kids, “everyone was Christian, white, straight, middle-class” so if we can get back to that, maybe everything will be less scary and easier again. Except that it wasn’t. We were kids, we didn’t know that in other communities, everyone was Jewish, or black, or rich or poor, or whatever, and we just didn’t know about them yet.

Yes, it’s hard to deal with change, but we can handle it. The thing to remember is that it is more helpful to make it easier on the people who are finding the change hard than to try to force them to accept it. This stridency comes from “feeling” attacked. Rather than telling them to stop being such whiners, reassure them that they aren’t. Acknowledge their discomfort- soothe it as much as you can, without agreeing to let them do whatever they want. They probably DON’T want to force everyone to be like them, they just want the feeling of security they had when they were kids. We can’t MAKE the whole world one color or one religion even if we wanted to. We can reassure them that it’s OK for them to celebrate Christmas with as many greetings, and snow themed decorations as they like. But just because they like a sugar free mocha latte in their cups, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to have that flavor. Next year, maybe Starbucks cups will have piñiatas, or Yul Nisse or maybe cactus! The important thing is the love we share.

The tyranny of numbers

We have allowed ourselves as a culture to become sidetracked by the appeal of numbers. I know how hard it is to make decisions. Perhaps one of the reasons I have such a hard time making choices is because I refuse to be distracted by simple solutions.

It would be an unusual parent who could choose which child they love more. But how much simpler it is to say which child is older, is taller, weighs more; you could even figure out, if you wanted to waste your time, which child consumes more resources. But most of us realize how foolish it would be to make decisions based on the measurable criteria.

Yet so often we are urged to make decisions, when some criteria are immeasurable, to proceed as if the measurable, the record-able, the replicable criteria are superior to those which cannot be put down in numbers.

We see this daily in the way we judge value by price, or monetary cost- while ignoring social and emotional costs. If some people will work for less money, we don’t look at the attitudes that lead to why they are paid less, we assume that if one person is paid more, he must have more value than those paid less. Artists create, mothers create nurturing environments for family life, others do work simply because it’s all that’s available where they are or it needs doing. This doesn’t diminish the importance of what they are doing, but it seriously diminishes the appearance of the importance of what they are doing. We mustn’t fall into this trap.

This is the logic of using a screwdriver for a hammer because you have a screwdriver in your pocket, and the hammer is in the box out of reach. Admittedly, if you are unable to go get the correct tool, you make do with what you have. Sometimes we put our finger in the dyke and wait, because it woAnsel Adamsuld be disaster to remove it. But most times the disaster comes from using the wrong tool because it was more convenient at the moment.

We need to stop using numbers as the convenient tool, and use the RIGHT tool for making important decisions. Stop counting how many days one can add to life expectancy, but count how many good experiences a therapy can add. Stop asking how much someone has in the bank and ask how much he enjoys his or her life. Numbers are easy to record and compare, but they aren’t the right way to make important decisions.

Catherine Kane on the New Normal Practical Empath

We’re talking about psychic empaths, those of us who are extra tuned in to the feelings and emotional vibes of others. It’s a lovely gift but, while you’re born with the gift, you’re not born with the skills you need to manage it. Without those skills, psychic empathy can be an overwhelming experience.

We’ll be talking about those skills- about how to control how much psychic energy you take in, how to ground out energy you don’t want and what to do with your gift, amongst other things. We’ll also talk about the people who care about empaths and how they can support their psychic.Catherine Kane

Catherine Kane is a professional psychic, a Reiki Master, a bard, a metaphysical Christian, and  a delighted student of the Universe (amongst other things). She brings creativity, an eclectic body of knowledge, and an attitude of fun to empowering people to find and live their best and brightest dreams. Her writing has been seen in magazines such as Thorn, the Door Opener, and Helix; and she is the author of “Adventures in Palmistry” and “The Practical Empath”, “Manifesting Something Better“, The Lands That Lie Between, and “The Psychic Power of Your Dreams“.   Visit her and husband Starwolf online as Foresight (the Information you need for the Adventure of Life) at www.ForesightYourPsychic.com and www.ForesightYourCtPsychic.wordpress.com

you can also find Foresight on Facebook.

Catherine’s Amazon page, and her writing blog.

Please feel free to call in with questions or comments at 619-639-4606The Practical Empath