While in high school I was a member of a service-oriented club called Key Club International. As a yearly holiday tradition we’d organize a project like the donation trees you see in shopping malls. While working on the project, I made the “mistake” of saying “Merry Christmas” on the forms. I was asked to start the entire project again, this time saying “Happy Holidays” so as to avoid being offensive. I was annoyed. How could a cheerful greeting possibly offend anyone?
We as Christians, and as Americans, have a responsibility, both to our beliefs and our beloved country, to gather up the courage to speak for our traditions. It seems to me that there is a terrible fallacy amongst Americans as a whole that in order to be respectful of other people’s viewpoints, particularly those who stand in a minority, you shouldn’t speak out against them. This is not the case. The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …” It isn’t saying that silence is a necessary part of respecting another’s beliefs! We shouldn’t be afraid to speak up when we feel the need. We just need to learn how to do so respectfully.
The duty to defend our traditions and beliefs is about to fall into our hands. Too often people choose silence over their opinions to avoid confrontation. As college students, we are no longer children. Our opinions are now our own. As we take some of our first real steps out into the world on our own, I hope that we all realize that our opinions have the power to change America for centuries to come. Just as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address, this country has a “… government of the people, by the people, for the people. …” But if we don’t speak up for what we believe in, how can that be so?