Regarding Beth Joyner Waldron's Dec. 1 Opinion piece, "Why avoid using 'Merry Christmas'?": I am puzzled as to why conservative groups would want to have the word "Christmas" attached to the "great American shopping festival," as if this buying frenzy has anything to do with the religious purpose of the season.
It is equally puzzling to me that these groups are adamant about calling a decorated evergreen tree a "Christmas tree," as if this artifact of the lovely ancient winter solstice festival has become a holy religious icon.
As one who struggles yearly to find the holiness of the season and clear it of mad consumerism and commercialized Santa Clauses, I am happy to let people light the "community tree" and have a "happy holiday."
I think there is a need to reclaim Christmas, but I think the efforts reported in this piece are approaching reclamation along the wrong lines.
I just cannot believe that celebrating Christmas is such a hassle in, of all places, the USA.
Here in Malaysia, which can be said to be a Muslim country, or a country where political will rests with the Muslim majority, Christmas is just Christmas. Everyone and every store is free to celebrate in any way they want. And not only do the neon signs and banners loudly proclaim "Merry Christmas," everyone - whether from the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Baha'i communities - genuinely and sincerely wishes everyone else "Merry Christmas."
If this is unbelievable to Americans, may I add something else. People of other faiths rejoice together with Christians during this festive season, and on the streets, they sing or hum along with the Christmas songs that waft through the air.
Where I live, we just aren't as concerned about political correctness or incorrectness. I think we are simply one people living as children of the same God.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
Pat Holt's Dec. 1 Opinion column, "The US needs more debate about reducing its deficit," is correct in asserting that it is past time to have a rigorous national debate about the twin dangers confronting the US in the form of our foreign trade and US budget deficits.
What stands in the way of our having a productive national debate is the lack of general economic literacy among all Americans. Economic decision making involves making reasoned, informed choices, and many Americans have not had the kind of economic education needed to make those choices.
As the leader of an organization that promotes the effective teaching of the skills that come from knowing sound, practical economics in schools nationwide, I believe the only way to ensure that the tough but necessary choices we face will be made wisely is to increase the "economics IQ" of all Americans. Economics should be integrated into the core K-12 curriculum, and every high school should require a basic economics course for graduation.
A better educated public is the only hope we have for a meaningful debate about serious public policy issues like the trade and budget deficits, taxes, and Social Security reform.
Robert F. Duvall
President and CEO, National Council on Economic Education
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