Raised as a Christian by Christians, I realize the importance of the holiday season as a time of coming together, peace on Earth, and malice toward none.
As I opened my favorite newspaper, the Altoona Mirror, I noticed that Sharon Cook brought forth her opinion ("Smile, it's Christmas," Dec. 22) in a letter to the editor.
She states that as she is going about her holiday business, and is met with "uncomfortable half smiles" from the adults in the Altoona-Hollidaysburg area, a place that she claims to be "the most unfriendly, saddest and sloppiest place" she's ever encountered.
To me, a 16-year-old boy from Gallitzin, a person who professes to be a strong believer in God - as Cook does - exhibits traits of love and compassion, especially when they express their desire to be kinder and more thoughtful to those they do not know.
One trait I feel that many Christians forget to exhibit of themselves is the trait (and the spiritual gift) of tolerance.
If Cook has the opinion that the residents of this area are "unfriendly, sad and sloppy," she is passing judgment unto those whom she does not know, the same people she claims to be kinder and more thoughtful toward.
A moral Christian does his/her best to refrain from passing judgment, especially on those they do not know.
If she had written in to say that the residents in "my particular town were unfriendly, sad and sloppy," perhaps "uncomfortable half smiles" would not be unexpected. That goes for almost any town to anyone.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a child, that Cook seems to forget, is the Golden Rule, which states: Treat others in the respect that you would like to be treated.
I was confused by Cook's observation of unhappy and unfriendly people in this area. When I think of Hollidaysburg, I think mainly of the Veterans Home, a very wonderful place made for those who can no longer stand to say the pledge because of their commitment to defending the loved ones of their own town and country.
I challenge Cook to visit this establishment and pick out one worker or veteran that is not friendly, that is not happy, that is not welcoming her with an "uncomfortable half smile."
There is another organization that contributes supplies to the Veterans Home, and that is the Hollidaysburg Legion. This establishment is built by blood of the good-hearted people in the area. The individuals that work here are yet another example of kind working folk.
Whether it is a misinterpretation of our area, or just the fact that she may not be looking in the right places, Sharon Cook's opinion is a contrasting message of her own beliefs.
Claiming to be a follower of the Lord, she states that she goes out of her way to be kinder and more thoughtful to those she does not know, yet turns around and defies her faith by passing judgment on those people using the area code as an excuse to stereotype the wonderful people that call this place "home."
While I would not like to attack her, and would like to believe her judgment is clouded, I would like to challenge her to use the Golden Rule.
If she spots someone that looks particularly unhappy, perhaps it is she who should go out of her way and make that person's day by even so much as asking how their day was or exhibiting random acts of kindness.
As she does this, she should realize that this is not something that is expected, but something she can do in the name of the Lord to better the world throughout the holidays.