Monthly Archives: November 2017

Christmas Tradition

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[Yesterday: 3.5 miles]

So we are coming up to Christmas again and I’m back in the traditional Facebook argument with my cousin about the supposed pagan meanings of Christmas.

I probably shouldn’t get into it again with him.  But it does help me think through some things.  This year I’m thinking about information and conscience.

So, he tells me that putting up a Christmas tree is a reference to an ancient pagan worship practice.  I assume he is right that pagans did this, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is, by imparting to me that information he removes my ignorance and my innocence.  The rightness or wrongness of the information doesn’t matter, but my reception of it does.  (I should say, the right/wrong of the information doesn’t change the shift of burden from him to me.)

Our society is going through a period of “outing” famous men for being sexually crass.  I’m not going to comment on that, but just say that your favorite entertainer, artist, commentator is outed.  It can change your attitude about their work and the enjoyment you had before is not the same now.  A case in point:  Bill Cosby.  What was seen as a wholesome TV show is forever tainted because now everyone knows that Bill Cosby did some bad stuff.

Is it better to know or not to know?

I’ve been mostly a not-know guy and I’ll probably continue in that vein.  My wife gives me a bit of a hard time about this, for keeping my head in the sand. I suspect I do it for my own self preservation and I’ve missed the opportunity to help people who needed help.

Here’s my defense:  by assuming that someone is innocent it helps me to have an innocent attitude toward them.  Neither they nor I are improved by my knowing their intimate faults, unless there is some assistance I should be giving.

On the other hand, having an untruthful conception about someone is counter-factual, living in denial, not where I should want to be.

It’s an interesting question.

And, back to the Christmas thing, the impartation of information can have this moral dimension:  step on a crack, break your mother’s back.  Ok, if I internalize that information it changes the way I walk.  I’m going to step on all of the cracks to fight empty superstition / I’m going to not step on a crack because I love my mother / I’m going to ignore that stupid saying and step wherever my foot goes.  It’s a weight of information (hopefully not too heavy in the “step on a crack” case) that is transferred from one person to another.  So now I think about Christmas trees in a different way. I don’t think it has improved my life to know this.

Is ignorance/innocence something to be valued?


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Nov 30, 2017
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