Politics, political correctness, and your funeral home



It was almost impossible last week to live in the United States and not know or hear about the Presidential Debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.  Even if you didn’t want to know it was happening, you knew anyway because it dominated the news and announcements on almost every media venue you would check in at.


I watched the debate, but will spare you my opinions.  I did, however, see this article the next day about public company Tractor Supply announcing that they were going to “shelve” climate and diversity goals after customer pushback.  That lead me back to a time over 50 years ago when I learned a valuable lesson about keeping politics and political correctness out of any public stance your funeral home would make.


The year was 1972 and I was in the 9th Grade.  One of my classmates and neighbors was Mindy Haaven and her father, Jon Haaven, was a candidate for Minnesota’s 7th District Congressional seat.  At the dinner table I had heard my mom and dad discussing the election and learned they supported Mr. Haaven.  One day at school during the Fall election season Mindy asked me if I wanted a yard sign for our house.  I said sure. . . and the next day after school I proudly put up a sign in our yard, which adjoined our funeral home.  The sign just happened to say, “This is a Haaven House”.


Needless to say, my dad came home and inquired about the sign.  I proudly proclaimed that “I got it from the Haavens and put it up”.  As my dad was great at calmly doing, he explained to me that our funeral home served all people. . . all races, all nationalities, all church denominations, and all political parties.  It would probably not be a good idea to alienate those people who opposed Mr. Haaven by having a sign in our yard. . . . . . That all made sense to me.


Over the years I have developed a favored political ideology and party.  However, my wife and I find ways to support that belief without publicly doing so.  We found it a fair way to be supportive to both our favored political candidates and to the people we served at the funeral home.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

That’s not to say that you have to live without expressing your morals or faith.  I find those traits to be different than basic political ideology and support.  As a matter of fact, our faith is very important to my wife and I . . . and I continuosly strive to be bolder in my proclamation of my faith so that others might benefit from their own adoption of it if they choose.


As for political correctness. . . . . the Tractor Supply article is interesting.  I think it proves an individual, or a business like Tractor Supply, or your funeral home, needs to have core values and culture for which they or the business is known for.  But, those values cannot be a mirage, simply for business goals.  Evidently, according to the article, Tractor Supply adopted some values such as the idea of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and carbon goals as those ideas were becoming culturally popular.


Now, as those ideals have started waning from the public majority and the company’s customers complained, Tractor Supply has decided to eliminate those values and culture.  It’s good that they recognized that their customer constituents didn’t seem to align with those values.  However, now that Tractor Supply has adopted other priorities, such as animal welfare and veterans’ causes, how do the customers know they are sincere with these after they conveniently “ditched” their other announced values?


Going back to the lesson I received from my dad. . . . . it’s probably best to just “live” a life of morality, faith, and justice as you see fit and not announce your values to the community in an effort to gain business.  Somewhat to that point, as a funeral director and as an individual, it is my opinion that doing the proper thing without asking for accolades is the best way to do something. . . . .and, I’ve learned that when you do something without asking for “Thanks” or other favors, you end up getting more in the long run. . . . . . It’s just funny how that works out.


So, like my dad would say, “You probably have a political philosophy.  However, keeping it out of your funeral business is probably a smart idea.”


More to this story —  Jon Haaven lost that election for Congress in 1972 but went on to buy our local community newspaper and run it until his retirement.  He’s in his 90’s now and was instrumental in convincing me about ten years ago that I had the ability to serve on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.  He, and a couple of his retired friends, made me believe that I had that ability when I never thought myself capable. . . . .So, I applied. . . . and after 29 separate interviews and answering questions in front of two Senate and House member panels, I was the guy they chose and became the first person from my community to sit on that board in 127 years.  Serving six years on that board was an incredible experience for me and an experience that I was extremely grateful for the opportunity that allowed me to contribute to my state.


It’s funny how things come around.. . . . back in 1972 my family was Haaven supporters and 43 years later in 2015 Jon Haaven was my supporter. . . . . and I was, and am, grateful he was.


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1 Comment

  1. Kent Dorsey on July 1, 2024 at 9:19 am

    I am constantly reminded of business owners political view by posting of bumper stickers on company vehicles. 43 years in a business that I have found it best to keep myself neutral in public and ride along and watch all the political scrapes break out – and I find myself thankful I am not in them. The bumper sticker thing is truly baffling to me, as I make my notes of various tradesmen who post those stickers…
    While your mention of faith has merit, as time has gone on I find myself somewhat put off by aggressive/numbers funeral directors who use religion as a means of gaining a competitive advantage on a competitor. It often works in our part of the country.

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