Chesney Guest Column: Christmas an annual opportunity to show our shared Northwest Illinois values

I love the Christmas season and the goodness it brings out in people throughout the world. As we celebrate the most glorious gift given us by God, I am always impressed at the benevolence and kindness of our neighbors and our shared Northwest Illinois values.

I often get asked what I mean when I say, “Northwest Illinois values”. I first wrote about my definition of this in a Guest Column back in July 2019. At the time, I wrote the following: Living within one’s means.  An honest day’s pay for a hard day’s work.  Hard work and determination breed success.  Leave a place better than you found it.  Take care of your neighbors.  Transparency and accountability in matters of public business.  These are values I see shared throughout our region and beyond.

I, both, believe that definition is shared by most in our region, and I see it on full display every day in Northwest Illinois. This is especially the case during the Christmas season in Northwest Illinois. I haven’t been afraid to talk about our Northwest Illinois values while serving you in Springfield. I feel there is something very special about the common-sense approach we take to helping our neighbors in Northwest Illinois.

Tragically, this year, more Americans believe there is a war on Christmas than ever before, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. The war on Christmas is the belief that politicians and society are trying to remove Christian elements from the holiday and replace them with non-secular elements. The belief there is a war on Christmas is especially higher among older Americans. Not surprising considering many older Americans have been segregated from family and friends during the COVID pandemic. To recognize a perception among them their Christmas celebrations have been under attack is not difficult.

Instead of lamenting or denying this perception as non-reality, I hope we can all take it as a call to action to reach out to older relatives, neighbors, and community members to share Christmas cheer during a difficult time of year for many.

I recently read an article about Christian evangelism and the author made the point that you cannot reach nonbelievers with “passive congeniality”. The article described millennials in the US as increasingly demonstrating characteristics of shame/honor culture due in part to the rise in multiculturalism and a collectivist mentality toward shame and fame fueled by social media. Many fear this western indifference toward Christianity could give way to intolerance. The author of the article describes an approach of not dismantling one’s worldview in sharing your faith through evangelism, rather pointing to how a God who cares about them fits into their worldview; meeting people where they are.

It struck me that this is as prudent of advice on our shared values as any. If we live our faith, we won’t get discouraged if people feel there is a War on Christmas. Rather, we take this perception as an opportunity to show our neighbors the love and kindness which does exist in our community through outpourings of goodwill and joy.

Christmas is an annual opportunity to show and share our Northwest Illinois values. I ask you to join me in sharing goodwill and cheer this Christmas season with your family, friends, and neighbors. From my family to yours, have a happy, healthy and Merry Christmas!

State Representative Andrew Chesney advocates on behalf of the 89th District in Illinois. As a legislator, his policy priorities include cutting taxes, creating jobs, and government accountability and transparency. Learn more at RepChesney.com.