Haiku on a billboard war
December 4, 2010
You may have heard by now of the holiday season billboard put up outside NYC by the group American Atheists. It shows a typical Christmas scene and the words “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.”
Naturally some religious groups took offense. Admittedly the new ad is more in-your-face than the earlier ones which just offer support to people who are already atheists, agnostics or in doubt, the ones that just say “you are not alone.” So the Catholic League made a rival billboard, with a showier Christmas image, saying “You know it’s real. This season, celebrate Jesus.”
The position of most people I know is not adequately expressed by either billboard. They are quite happy celebrating the holidays of their community without worrying much about whether the basic narratives behind them are really literally objectively true. Now: when I try to condense a train of thought into something pithy, I find my mind tends to run in patterns of 5 and 7 syllables; so I offer these alternatives to the competing billboards:
Maybe it’s a myth.
No reason not to enjoy!
Or perhaps, since even moderates can be in-your-face sometimes,
It’s a myth. So what?
People enjoy a good myth.
Or to sound more sophisticated, the second line can be
“myth can still be meaningful.”
Or, “myths are fun and meaningful.”
Or in the spirit of Kent Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments,
You know it’s a myth.
Celebrate it anyway!
Mix and match to taste!
If anyone wants to use one or more of these, or some further variation, to make a real billboard, bus ad, or maybe greeting card, feel free! They are my holiday gift to you! My ego would appreciate your letting me know if you do so; and if you want to credit me, use my nom de blog, Allogenes. It rhymes with Diogenes – you’ll sound like you’re quoting an ancient Greek guy!