For a long time, Louisiana has had a reputation for crooked politicians, corruption, and shady elections. Money in freezers, call girls, bribes, state-wide elected officials in jail - it’s no wonder that Louisiana has been a laughing stock for the nation.
In 2002, with my eyes wide open to the truth of Louisiana politics, I took a shot at political office by running for judge. I thought I could so my small part to help. I ran a clean campaign and got trounced, 64-36%.
I learned two important things in this effort. First, I learned who my friends are. Second, I learned that some people I thought were my friends, were, in fact, not. I cannot tell you how valuable this information is.
It turns out that I had made many friends over the years who moved mountains for me when I never would have expected them to. They stood on street corners, manned phone banks, wrote checks, and did so many other things that were way above what I asked them to do and what I had hoped they would do. It was truly a blessing to learn how I had touched some hearts that I did not even know I had touched, and I remain humbled for the efforts and friendship of these fine and holy people.
I also would have bet you a lot of money that other people would have been first in line to help me. But, some folks I “knew” would be there for me were nowhere to be found. Alas, they turned out to be the epitome of “fair weather friends.” Make no mistake - they are good people, but they are not true friends. You know, the kind of true friend who you call at 2 a.m. with a problem and they get out of bed and come right over, instead of saying, “Gee, can’t this wait until morning”?
The point is, you do not always know when you touch someone’s heart, or whether they have selfish motives in being your “friend.” Indeed, all the time, effort, and money I spent running for office to learn this lesson made the entire race worthwhile, and has altered the way I treat everyone since.
Now for the fun part - the “Louisiana Politics” part!! During the campaign, some of my signs would occasionally disappear mysteriously. We’d put them back up, but they disappeared again. So, we decided to investigate. Here are two videos of the culprit in action...
And who is the culprit??? His name is Leo. He had worked for me a few years earlier and did not feel like he had been treated fairly, so he quit. At the time of these videos, he was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, married with three terrific children, and a practicing lawyer. Nonetheless, he felt the need to get out of his car in the pouring rain to pull my campaign sign out of the ground. Then, on a different day, he decided to drive off the road to vandalize another sign.
When he was later accused of destroying the signs, I am told that at first he denied it. When he was then confronted with the videotape, I am told he acted like Ralph Kramdon on The Honeymooners - “hummina, hummina, hummina...”
I guess it’s tough to be embarrassed on videotape. But, do you know the hardest thing for me to understand? I still can’t imagine how Leo’s life was made any better for having done this to me. I suppose that this is a question only he can answer.
Leo, I am sorry you felt the need to do this, and I forgive you. May God bless you and heal your wounded heart.
P.S. I suspect that some of you might be asking, “Chris, why are you posting these videos now, so many years later?” Well, let me give you a few reasons.
First, I think the videos are funny. (Remember, this is my website!)
Second, I talk a lot about consequences - good and bad - for our actions. I struggle mightily with some of my past actions, and I have tried to repent and learn from them. My hope is that someone somewhere might be contemplating doing the same thing Leo did, and then reconsider the consequences after wondering, “Is there a video camera somewhere out there that sees me”?
Third, many decisions in life require us to weigh risk and reward. I think most of us ask ourselves, at one time or another, whether what we are going to do is worth it. I am fascinated by this intellectual question, and I have often wondered if it was worth it for Leo - truly worth it in the end - to have endured public embarrassment just to try to get a small measure of revenge against me. I am hoping that he will answer this question for me someday.
Fourth, and finally, I have tried for many moons to reconcile with Leo, each time to no avail. I hope that he will see this, we can talk about it, and then “bury the hatchet.” And, after that, I hope to be able to remove this page from this website forever, never to be seen again.