One does not have to be Christian to do good

Celebration of winter solstice and adaptation of older tradition

Editor, The News:

Re: Jesus is the reason for Christmas season (Letters, Dec. 12).

With all due respect for the faith of Mrs. S.D. Kwong, the lady who bemoans the  shift from a mainly Christian religious festive season to a predominantly secular one, I would like to submit the following.

A little historical perspective may help.

For thousands of years the aboriginal population of the North American continent had developed their own belief systems. Like many other northern populations, they celebrated the winter solstice as the sun started to rise from the horizon

The Europeans arrived only some 600 years ago and brought with them their Christian faith and vigorously started the Christianizing of the original inhabitants.

The Christian invaders considered aboriginal peoples pagans and blissfully ignored their culture, values and beliefs.

Not only that, until fairly recently, they actively and often forcibly imposed various denominations of the Christian faith, inflicting immeasurable harm on to many fellow human beings in the process.

Yes, Christians did a lot of good, as well, building schools and hospitals and educating people. But one does not have to be a Christian to do those things.

Fortunately, we have progressed to the point where we have become more respectful of other faiths and values and no longer assume that the winter solstice celebrations are a purely Christian event, but an adaptation of a much older tradition.

There are many people who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yalda, Yule, without expecting other people to be inundated by their interpretation of the significance of this time of the year.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2013.

Marco Terwiel

Maple Ridge

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