Christmas is an interesting season in the workplace these days. It’s charged with social tensions and political correctness. It seems that our Western liberal guilt has encouraged us to acknowledge the religious beliefs of others, encouraging the acceptance and celebration of faith. At the same time, western Christians feel that they must repress all reference to the Christian holiday of Christmas to avoid offending others of different faiths.
But tonight, three of my Muslim students wished me a happy Christmas. They aren’t offended that we celebrate Christmas. After all I teach at a Catholic college. A Catholic college that proudly hosts a Muslim prayer room. Our college supports people of all faiths, those of shaky faith, those of no faith. We accept the Christmas and Easter Catholics with the same vigour as devout Jews. My students understand and appreciate that acceptance. They don’t expect me to hide my faith, they just ask that I not trounce on theirs.
In the end, we’re all the same. Generally, most world religions hold the same set of rules. Don’t lie. Respect your parents. Don’t cause harm. You get the idea. We all want to be warm at night, be safe from harm, take care of our families and enjoy the companionship of friends, neighbours and family, no matter what beliefs we hold.
And so, I believe that good leaders look for the similarities between all of us at this time of year, not at our religious differences. Good leaders ask us to share our beliefs and respect those of others, not to suppress them. And good leaders ask us to remember to be grateful for the gifts that we have been given. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Festive Kwanza, and Festivus for the RestofUs. I will be taking a short break for the holidays, and will post again January 2, 2012.