Today is the first of December, and although it isn’t officially Advent for Western Churches until Sunday, it’s the day the first little door on the calendar is opened, so as far as I’m concerned, the run-up to Christmas has started.
Let me begin by making it clear that I use the word Christmas as a kind of generic name for midwinter celebrations. It was the word used when I was little, and although my family opens the presents on the 21st in celebration of the Solstice, I’m happy to call the whole thing Christmas and to call the run up season of parties, shopping, cards, presents, wrapping, etc., Advent.
So I was taken by the idea suggested by @RevRachelMann on Twitter. First of all because I think Rachel Mann rocks. She’s a trans vicar of the Church of England and a whole lot of other cool stuff besides. Her suggested “Modest Proposal”* for Advent is one of her cool ideas.
Basically it’s this: Tweet only nice things for Advent. Don’t point out that somebody’s tweet shows that they are an idiot who knows nothing about history/language/economics/art. Maybe say that although they might need to do some research, they have raised an interesting issue. Instead of complaining that you hate Daylight Savings Time because it gets so damned dark so damned early, remark on how pretty the lights on the trees look.
Think and, more importantly, speak positively.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, simply not posting the critical response to that idiot is a good step toward not being a dick. What Rev. Rachel is suggesting is being being an anti-dick. The Antidote to Dickishness.
Because, let’s face it, being not a dick is good. It cuts down on the world’s burden of dickish behaviour. And there is a lot of it around these days. Obnoxious, entitled, privileged, self-satisfied, selfish, harassing dicks. Mostly male. Mostly in positions of power. Mostly not called to account. Every time you are not one of those people, that’s an improvement.
But now, maybe just for the next twenty-five days, I’m going to ask you to go one step further. By all means, refrain from being a dick. But if you can, once a day on your digital medium of choice, say something positive. Give a shout out to everyone serving away from their families – not because they are service men and women, but because being away from your family sucks, and it’s nice to be recognized. Put up the puppy picture that makes you happy. Say thank you online to your friends who have been cool recently.
In short, be kind.
Now, if you have been following along with what I have been saying all these past months, you will realize that this is just another way of treating people the way you would like them to treat you. In other words, not being a dick. But don’t you like it then somebody thanks you? Don’t you like it when people say you look nice, not in a creepy, manipulative way, but just an honest compliment? Don’t you like it when somebody holds the door open for you, especially if your hands are full of all that shopping?
Well, do the same thing. Be nice. Smile, not because some asshole tells you to, but because you might just feel happy at this minute. Say hello to your neighbor in the lift.
Because for every jerk who harassed someone at work, we need someone to say, “Back off, dick. She doesn’t want you leering at her.” For every nit-picking administrator, we need a co-worker to say, “I think you’re doing a fine job. is there anything I can do to help?” For every greedy pig who steals someone’s lunch from the fridge we need someone to say, “Would you like some of my chicken? I’ve got lots.” For every boy racer who cuts someone off at the lights, we need someone to give way and let the bus go first.
Now the world would be a better place if we just had fewer dicks. And by remembering not to do something stupid yourself, you do really make a difference. But simple acts of kindness, even if it is just a word or two, cost nothing, and make everyone’s life better.
So I hope that Krampus comes on December 5th and leaves nothing but hoof-prints, and that Father Christmas/Santa/SantNiklaas is good to you. I hope that your Solstice celebrations are good, and that your Yule Log burns bright. May your Festivus pole be shiny. May you have your family near for Kwanzaa. May your Hanukkah be happy and your Diwali be bright. And if I have missed out your personal celebration, may you not be a dick, and cut me some slack.