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Christmas and Politics

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Posted 11-01-2010 at 05:27 PM by Jeff Westover

I have a friend who is my political opposite who, for the purposes of this post, I will call Paul. That, of course, is not his real name but I have no doubts my family and friends who might read this will know who I am speaking about. I think the reasons why I don't use his real name will be obvious as I share the story.

I'm not sure when Paul and I became friends. We lived years ago fairly close to each other and I think we might have first met at a school event we had in common with our kids when we lived in California. In any event, we're about as different as two people can be.

We have had many an intellectual conversation about life, the universe and everything including a fair share of politcal sparring. He's as atheist as the day is long and I am, as he likes to say, as Mormon as a dude living in Utah can be (he knows how I deplore being classified as a Utah Mormon).

Our friendship has always been very warm though. He's got great kids, a wonderful wife and a strong sense of right and wrong. I respect him greatly because despite his political insanity he has incredible integrity.

Because my birthday falls in late October I recall the time he found every politcal sign in town he could that espoused a Democrat or liberal initiative and put them on my lawn on my birthday. There must have been fifty different signs and every one of these supported something I opposed. Only he would know that, of course.

I left all those signs up on my lawn that season, too. I wanted to see just who would react to it and what would be said to me. Familiy and friends joshed me mightily over it and we all had a good laugh.

Years ago, when we launched DefendChristmas.com, Paul and I had a heated argument. Like many, he assumed the site was just another Bill O'Reilly-like outlet for the very contrived war on Christmas. I tried hard to explain to him that the site merely shares and archives the news of the war on Christmas but that really -- honestly, truly -- we don't take sides in those battles.

Well, not entirely. Occasionally, when something is just blatantly ridiculous I'll get on my soap box. One such thing that Paul and I go round and round about is the idea of separation of Church and State. He thinks it is in the Constitution and I flatly deny it.

For the record, the Constitution outlines the prohibition of the government sponsorship or establishment of any one religion. It is silent when it comes to keeping any mention of religion out of school, courthouses, or on the money.

This week's release of the Merry Podcast shares a speech given by President Franklin Roosevelt on Christmas Eve 1941. I encourage you to listen to it -- it is fascinating. I sent the link to Paul just to get under his skin because Roosevelt while president in the speech invokes the name of God and specifically Jesus Christ several times -- in very religious fashion, I might add.

There isn't a president of any type who would do that today for fear of the backlash he would receive.

In any event, the types of arguments Paul and I have are never to be resolved. We're still friends and always will be. He knows he'll never change me and I know I haven't a chance to change him. And that is fine. I still love the guy.

Yesterday I sent him a scan of my mail-in ballot for the election tomorrow, as has been our little ritual with every election since we moved away from California. I wanted him to see that me -- a very independent registered voter -- actually voted for seven Democrats on this ballot. That might not only be a personal record for me but also for all the state of Utah. I had a good laugh with him when he sent me his scan -- he voted for eight Republicans!

But his email to me turned serious when he talked about an issue he is having in his youngest son's school, who will not allow the word "Christmas" to be used in any holiday observances this year.

All of a sudden, Paul wants the help of DefendChristmas.com.

We will watch the news. He's just starting his fight with this and we will see how far he takes it. He is the type of man to get the media on his side and he will get attention. But I find it curious that when it hits close to home, he's checked his political ideals at the door.

We talked about that a bit. All politics, of course, is local, so they say. But right and wrong is really what it is all about and when injustice is done to one of your own you tend to cast aside ideals in the name of justice.

I am a Libra. I like peace. I love balance. But I fear I might be headed to a showdown with Paul on this one.

I have a terrible distaste for our public schools -- for a variety of reasons I won't spell out here.

There is just very little they can do right, in my view.

And politics, especially, is one of them.

My hat is off to Paul. I hear exactly where he is coming from. And I feel his pain.

But this is the world we've created for ourselves.

It is too bad the message of peace that is at the heart of Christmas gets lost in our arguments over it.
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  1. Old Comment
    Storeytime's Avatar
    Great story and message, Jeff. I really struggle with this topic. I have friends who are opposite that me in political beliefs but we just don't talk about those things and focus on what we do have in common.

    The closest thing I do have to this kind of relationship is my parents, who I am very blessed to still have here on this earth. They are 93 and 86 and look and feel 30 years younger.

    They are lifelong Yellow Dog Democrats. I've converted from being a Yellow Dog to being a conservative with compassionate capitalist leanings. They are the only people I know that will have peaceful discussions about political issues.

    You know that I'm a homeschool and private school Dad. I've recently become somewhat of a homeschool activist because of a local court case where the judge gave custody of three children to the father and his parents because the mother homeschooled the children. I am firm in my belief that the best thing we can do for the public school system is make it compete with the other systems until it either totally fails or shapes up.
    Posted 03-01-2012 at 10:38 PM by Storeytime Storeytime is offline
 
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