Abdul-Hakim Shabazz: This Christmas, I want civility for my neighbors

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Abdul-Hakim ShabazzMy friends, although my name is Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, it is time for my annual Christmas wish this holiday season.

Say what? The Black Muslim with a Christmas wish? Hey, I also smoke cigars, drink whiskey, and I love bacon, so give me a break.

Now, I know this year has been tough on all of us, with inflation, attacks on reproductive choice, and war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, not to mention Donald Trump.

And throw in the fact that many of us will have to deal with relatives we can’t stand. By the way, I recommend a trip to Illinois, Michigan or Ohio to pick up a couple of products that will help you deal with family stress, but I digress.

So, here’s my annual wish for this year: Just like in previous years, I ask for a little civility.

Let’s face it: We have a lot of problems in our cities, states and our nation, but we won’t solve them with yelling, screaming and tribalism (the thought that opposing views aren’t just wrong but are downright evil).

Just look at any social media page these days. A conversation that starts out about tax cuts or policing in communities immediately devolves into name-calling and personal attacks.

Now I am not going to say we need to go back to the “old days” of the founding of the republic, where our nation’s leaders expressed opinions with great oratory and virtue. If you take a close look at history, we said some pretty bad things about one another. Thomas Jefferson was once referred to as “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” That was pretty harsh rhetoric for the early 19th century.

No, I’m talking about people of goodwill who can disagree without being disagreeable. You might find this hard to believe, but Ronald Reagan and then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill were actually pretty good friends. However, he was a California conservative, and O’Neill was a Boston liberal. They knew how to put their differences aside for the better of the country. What a concept.

If only Joe Biden and U.S. House Republicans could do that.

We can have a spirited debate. I’ve never had a problem with that. And on occasion, we lose our tempers. Remember the story of the Son of Man and the money changers? Exactly. A raised voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing; however, when everyone is shouting, no one is listening.

So, whether we’re Republican/Democratic, Black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, whatever, at the end of the day, in order for us to function, we need a civil society where reasonable people in good faith can come together and work out their differences and make this city, this state and this nation a little bit of a better place.

Is that too much to ask for at Christmas? Maybe. But I will ask, anyway. Have a good Christmas, and slow down when you get to the Salvation Army bucket and, hopefully, the holiday spirit will last past the January White Sale.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Winter Solstice. Did we miss anyone?

I’m off to engage in my holiday tradition of watching Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.”

Happy Holidays, and see you all in 2024.•

__________

Shabazz is an attorney, radio talk show host and political commentator, college professor and stand-up comedian. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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