I meant to blog about this in December but, with this year’s more-than-typical Holiday Madness, it slipped away from me. What the heck, I’ll blog it now.
We’ve all likely seen the “Keep Christ in Christmas” signs that have been popping up on lawns and streetcorners in recent years. They’ve always subtly bothered me, but I couldn’t ever seem to put a finger on exactly why. This year, some of the signs near my house were subtly different, and I suddenly knew why I’d been bothered.
As best I can recall, the signs in question seem to have been provided by Racine’s Grace Lutheran Church, a local congregation. (I may be wrong. I never managed to get a photo of one of the signs, and it was a bit difficult to read the fine print as I drove by). The subtle change? They added a two-letter word to the sign –“We”.
Suddenly, instead of a notice that a religious battle was being fought, or a cold command to the world at large that December 25th and the surrounding days were theirs and theirs alone, the sign was a warm and welcoming statement of faith. Instead of ‘You damn well better celebrate the season my way!’, the sign projected a feeling of ‘This family is trying to focus on the religious aspects of Christmas. If you’d like to try it too, why not check out this church?’
I like it. Now, I don’t mean to imply that everyone with one of the original signs is trying to push people around. I’m sure that most of them meant nothing of the sort. They likely intended to project the same message that I got from the revised sign. But somehow, in the sign maker's excitement to get the message out, their focus slipped a little to the side. It happens to me all the time. I get excited about a point I want to make, and instead of simply revealing my excitement, I come across as argumentative and pushy. It’s a trap that most of us with a point of view fall into at least once in a while.
The difference in the signs is similar to the difference between “You shouldn’t eat meat’ and “I don’t eat meat”. The sign seems to side with the sentiment of “Be the change you want to see in the world.” as opposed to the sentiment of “By any means necessary.” That ‘we’ on the new sign? It’s a word a lot of causes could stand more of. If you want people to remain open to your way of thinking, it helps if you don’t start by giving them the feeling that they’re the enemy.