By Ernie McCray
I got a call on my message machine asking for my help regarding a “secular” matter. It was my first such request in all my 75 years so I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why me?” since I don’t, although I’m not religious, necessarily consider myself a secular human being, and also since this particular worldly problem pertained to La Jolla.
I mean when I moved to San Diego in 1962, I was, in and of my 6 foot five black self, a problem in La Jolla, feeling, whenever I visited, about as welcomed as a seal in the Children’s Pool, like an unwashed heathen in a pristine hallowed place.
This lovely hilly seaside community and I, however, over time have come a long way from when we started our relationship so many decades ago, as I have swum and body surfed in its waters and run and walked its shores and rapped with kids in its schools and read scripts on its stages. But I have never weighed in on La Jolla’s affairs, secular or otherwise.
What the caller was interested in was presented to me in the form of a question which was: why is the Christmas on the Prado now called December Nights and why are the Encinitas and Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach Christmas Parades now referred to as Holiday Parades and La Jolla still has an annual La Jolla Christmas Parade?
I surely have no answer to such queries because I’ve never come near understanding matters that have a religious bent. Too many references to fire and brimstone for me. Too much bickering over whose God is real. Too much freaking out by practitioners when someone doesn’t believe in the same God as theirs, or believes in the same God but doesn’t believe in that God in the same way – enough to go to war or disown loved ones if their respective persuasions are far apart.
And secular doesn’t quite fit me because I’m spiritual as all get out. Sunrises and sunsets and both rugged winds and gentle breezes ease the tensions in my soul. A flash of lightning reminds me of my place in the overall scheme of things. A hike in the wilderness or the view from a high mountaintop or a frolic in the sea makes me feel whole, reminding me that all the elements of the universe are essential to my well-being. A moonlit night shines on me and I feel free to just enjoy the wonders of an amazing life giving and life supporting planet.
But the caller’s concerns about his community’s unwillingness to let go of their annual Christmas Parade really resonated with me when he said, regarding the parades that underwent name changes: “The names of the events were not changed for religious reasons. No one wanted to remove Christ from Christmas. When the decision makers chose words such as community and holiday, it was done to make everyone feel welcome at these secular events, regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion.”
He wants to show San Diego that La Jolla, despite its history, is a place of inclusion. I’m down with that considering the days when I didn’t feel that I belonged on streets like Pearl and Girard and Prospect.
It would be wonderful if a community, that is as looked up to and powerful as La Jolla happens to be, could find in its heart the will to honor diversity and make all its citizens feel wanted and appreciated by simply having a parade that did just that. It seems so American for us to embrace all our citizens, in my way of looking at things. Showing that it cares about all who live within its zip code would give La Jolla a different feel, a kind of inner quality that would make it as morally beautiful as it is in its physical state.
Anyway, on Saturday, July 6th at 9:30 AM the caller and his friends will show up at City Hall to meet with Mayor Bob Filner. They’re asking anyone who is interested to join them.
I don’t know what Bob can do but because he cares about issues concerning the heart, I could see him looking over the criteria required before a permit can be granted for conducting a parade on our city’s streets.
That would be my suggestion for seeking a solution to this secular matter.