Welcome to my lunch break. I thought I’d take a break from all that writing to write.
Some ugly and unsettling things have happened with me and my family personally since the election, and because of the election. The election is over, and you all know too well I have been more than willing to share my political say. However, I now see that there are more pressing problems that cannot be mended—but only exacerbated—by political discussion. The time for sharing opinions that can divide may have had a place in the election season (maybe not, I honestly don’t know) but I feel it’s time to keep my political thoughts to myself and to try to foster a spirit of unity in myself, my family and among my friends. It’s time to take down the signs and bumper stickers which now only serve to highlight differences, and to emphasize our common goals.
The emphasis on unity in the recent general conference (I just got my Ensign copy of it yesterday) seems more prophetic than ever after this week (and the past months). I’m reminded of what we’ve been reading with the kids in the Book of Mormon, as it continually warns about the dangers of allowing contention to come in among us. Today we read King Benjamin teaching that if people become contentious, they will cease to prosper in the land. The destructive contentions among the people in the Book of Mormon are almost always over politics, economics and class. The divisions and contentions are not just between church members and those outside of the church, but very often within the church. It has never been clearer to me that the Book of Mormon was given to us in our day as a roadmap and a warning of what will happen if we continue down this path.
We value our country, which is why political issues are important, even though they can’t fix everything, and much of our nation’s problems are spiritual issues. Policies and laws both effect and reflect citizen behavior, and is only one of many factors that influence the choices people make. Politics do not take precedence over the principles of the gospel—politics cannot excuse unChristlike behavior, even toward politicians, and even if we think “they deserve it,”—whether it’s Bush, Cheney, Obama or Palin.
We have had to sit down and teach our kids this week that God expects us to respond with kindness and respect with everyone no matter what—whether they treat us with respect or not, whether we agree with them or not, whether we like them or not, even when we are speaking about politicians or other public figures we don’t personally know– others’ behavior never justifies abandoning our own principles of how the Lord asks us to act.
And we’ve had to explain that good people, even good grownups, can forget this and choose to act poorly toward us, but we cannot write off those people for their poor behavior or just say they are bad. We talk about how Christ tells the Pharisees: Sure, everybody loves their friends, that doesn’t make them righteous—it is the ability to love those whom you disagree with or who treat you badly. It’s hard for kids to understand that because we adults don’t understand it, and the kids are seeing adults around them take an “eye for an eye” approach.
As I’ve had to sit down and discuss these ideals to my kids, I’ve committed myself to stick to common ground and avoid any cause of contention, and that I will try to recognize that divisiveness for what it is—a strategy of the adversary that starts on both sides with righteous indignation, then ends in division, anger and bitterness. This week when we were faced with this response from some individuals, I noticed that although I didn’t react openly, I internally felt the same progression of negative feelings. While defending a cause is good and needed, too often it turns into an attack on others (mentally or literally) and getting absorbed in fear and anger, which causes us to lose the Spirit and undermines our attempts to bring about positive things. It is so important that our children learn how to support what they believe without resorting to tearing down others.
Also, as part of that, I’m committing to get my information from sources that do not work to stir up contention and anger, be it for political, religious or entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, this angle is far too common in the standard exchange of information.
I don’t think we need to stop being who we are or thinking our own thoughts to unified, to be “as one,” but if my self-control and restraint are required, I think it’s worth it, because I for one think the only true temporal remedy for the state of the nation and the world is the establishment of Zion. And
So I need to make some changes not just in what I say, but in how I think. I want to apologize to those who have felt offended by what I have said and for any time in my political frustration I have gone against the things I’ve committed to strive for here. While we pray for our leaders and that our government will make good decisions for our country, and while we hope that as a nation we will turn away from divisiveness and ugliness, and we hope against hope that people can civilly disagree and still respect and love one another—all I personally can do from day to day is try to increase the love and the Spirit in my home and in my interactions with people. Since this blog counts as one of those interactions, the same rules should apply.
I can’t edit my blog from here, but you can look forward to it being depoliticized shortly.