BCE/CE vs BC/AD
Contributor
Written by
Savannah P
July 2009
Contributor
Written by
Savannah P
July 2009
BCE or Before Common Era and CE or Common Era have been suggested as replacements for the Christian centered BC/AD language used to determine dates. This was brought about by the realization that 1 in 3 people in the world are Christian. Of course this does not change the fact that the most commonly used Western calendar is in fact Christian, but it is more respectful language to non-Christian people. I happen to prefer this language, and ironically the majority of resistance I have gotten regarding the replacement of BC/AD with BCE/CE is that it is in fact meaningless due to the reality of the calendar in use. Anyone who knows me well is likely aware that any assumption of my being Christian or any action which may be interpreted as an attempt to force me conform to Christian ways/beliefs is a major trigger for me. Judaism has been central to my mother's family, my heritage, and to my upbringing. I was brought up in a state where Judaism is very sparsely represented. I have encountered people who have never met a Jew, or in some cases have not even heard of Judaism. Throughout my life I have encountered antisemitism and ignorance. Those experiences are always painful and sometimes scary, but what tends to hurt me more is the apathy. Sometimes there is an underlying implication that there is something wrong with my not being Christian. Other times there is a lack of understanding or sympathy for how sensitive I am about my heritage being disregarded. When these issues are boiled down to their core, it is not about being PC, it is a matter of respect. Regardless of the fact that the calendar primarily used is Christian based, Jesus, however a great man he may have been, is not my God. I prefer to avoid the statement "In the Year of the Lord" or "Before the Messiah" as they do not represent my beliefs. Yes I desire this respect in spite of the fact that I, like everyone else I know in mainstream, live by the Christian calendar. Honestly if I could change that extremely exclusive reality I would, but as I cannot, I will only ask that I be respected. Perhaps in the distant future this alteration of language will eventually incite a questioning of primary use of a Christian based calendar. I have been researching the use of BCE/CE and have found some good comparatives to further my point: "Consider an analogous situation: the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. The most recent version of this pledge includes the phrase: "Under God." Imagine what a Wiccan (who believes in a God and a Goddess), or many Buddhists and strong Atheists ( who do not believe in the existence of God) feel when having to recite those words. Consider how a Christian would feel if the pledge read "Under Buddha" or "Under Allah." These modern terms are to be preferred because they do not impose a particular theology on the reader or writer." If we are to support a movement towards equality, then neutral language is a necessity. Any assumed norm that takes precedence in the mainstream tends to benefit one group while under-representation may lead to inequalities and oppression. An ideal example of a movement towards neutral language that is more inclusive to the overall populace is the move away from male centered language. I believe that the neutralizing of religiously exclusive language is comparable to the increasing use of gender neutral language. As I have stated earlier this is more about inclusiveness and respect than it is about being PC. "Is this 'Politically Correct'? Well, it's polite and it's more accurate. I don't think anybody wants to go around changing all the dates on medieval tax records to pretend our ancestors used religiously-neutral language, or anything like that. So never mind the "political correctness" angle -- just look at it in terms of politeness, consideration, and accuracy." All quotes were taken from http://www.religioustolerance.org/ce.htm

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