Isn’t it a shame the way we cheat each other, treat each other, beat each other?
It’s a shame the way we use one other, abuse one another, and screw one another, it’s true.
They will lock you up in prison but they won’t call it slavery
There are stolen children raised and trained in armies
It’s enough to make you go crazy
It’s enough to make you mad
It’s enough to make you go crazy
And I’m amazed I haven’t yet
Don’t hesitate to speak your mind
Never hesitate to speak your heart
They’ll call you crazy when you speak your mind
So never, never hesitate — Brett Dennen, Make You Crazy
The other day I was talking to a friend, and by friend I mean therapist who dresses like a 21-year-old (his words, not mine), about the latest and greatest that has gotten me all anxious and depressed and he told me I should blog about it. After all, it’s a part of who I am, and isn’t that essentially what I’m trying to do in The Low Point? Share myself?
Well, this seemed like the dumbest idea I’d ever heard. The man is usually full of good ideas, but I thought perhaps he was having an off day. But I am nothing, if not totally persuadable, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was The Greatest Idea in the World.
So let’s talk politics.*
A little history of how an extremely liberal pacifist came to marry a Republican and move to the most conservative county in the nation: I fell in love.
This isn’t really about why I’m a practically Green Party-liberal with a mindset deeply rooted in Socialism. After all, the majority of you won’t really care (even if you think you might, I’m pretty sure your eyes would start to glaze over mid-explanation), and this matter of political opinion isn’t up for any sort of debate. It’s just how I am and what I think.
It’s not even really about how awful Utah is in comparison to Oregon because I think I’ve successfully explained that in previous posts. In fact, I’ve really met just two people in my life who vehemently insist that Utah is actually far superior to Oregon, but statistics are against them. But that’s their opinions, and that’s fine.
This is mostly about how, on one of my most favorite days in the annual calendar, I found myself laying in bed, crying out of frustration and hurt.
Of course, Election Day isn’t as cool as Christmas. Although the gift of a good president is certainly top notch, I’m still not sure it comes as close to the magnificence of a Kitchenaid appliance or a Sony electronic. But there is a punch of adrenaline — an inherent excitement — that accompanies Election Day. It never really matters which candidates I decide upon or what measures I want to pass as much as the simple fact that about a hundred years ago, women fought for my right to have whatever say I wanted. I cast my ballot and then I wait, usually with bated breath, to find out what happens.
I have a long history of not talking politics on my Facebook page. I think it’s kind of a silly thing to do — it takes up a lot of timeline space, it irritates the hell out of probably 98% of a person’s friends, and it doesn’t ever change minds. Our personal beliefs are steeped in us — nothing anyone else can say will really alter that, unless, of course, that anyone else is God. And even then, it’s not always a strong enough case for some people. But I decided, a couple months ago, that I had every right to spend at least twelve hours on November 6th to celebrate all things politics — from the democratic system (that isn’t really democratic *coughs* I’m talking about you, electoral college) to my candidate of choice. [Incidentally, after visiting the website I Side With, I discovered I should vote for Jill Stein. I didn’t.] So suddenly there was a picture of Obama on my timeline. And my voting results (I don’t know if it’s against the rules to just take pictures while you’re at the voting station, but I did it anyhow because I’m such a rebel.) And a cover photo from Planned Parenthood.
That was pretty much it, actually. I posted a few times throughout the day about the potential results, but I felt that, under the circumstances, I kept it fairly tame. And by about 9:30 pm Mountain standard time, they were all replaced by the old stuff. Before midnight struck in Utah, I’d posted my final political post for the next four years.
But these stats don’t matter. I am a liberal living in a conservative place, surrounded by people who, although referring to me as a sister in the Gospel, would just as quickly tell me I’m
- an idiot
- someone who believes lies
- not worthy of a temple recommend
- going to hell
- not a good Mormon
I had this misconception that members of the Church backed each other up. After all, the commandment issued to Christians worldwide was to love their neighbors as they love their God. And, around the world, millions and millions of Mormons sustain their prophet every six months, promising to follow his teachings, which we believe come from God, and they’re generally this: “Love One Another.” I need to provide a disclaimer right here, right now: In no way am I implying that the majority of Mormons, in Utah county, or in Utah, or in the nation, or in the world are close-minded or rude. In fact, I’d say probably 99% of the members of the Church I’ve met have been some of the most wonderful people on earth, full of hope and faith and love, leaning towards charity and goodwill toward men, and striving for a nearly impossible goal of Zion on earth.
But there’s always those one or two people. And you’ll find them everywhere — in every religion, in every city, in every state. And to be perfectly frank, that is a huge downfall of human society in my opinion. As a child, I was raised to just be nice because nice counts for a lot. And sure, I’ve spent an awful time not being particularly nice to other people, but when it comes to their political or religious views, I don’t go there because that’s getting personal. And isolating a person for how he or she thinks isn’t just rude; it’s uncalled for, it’s inappropriate, and it’s not how we’re supposed to treat each other. I find it remarkable how easily it is for people to vilify a group of individuals for their God-given right to believe what they like.
I get it, this goes both ways. And I know a number of my conservative friends in Oregon had one heck of a time this election for standing up for their beliefs. It’s a nasty world out there, and there aren’t a lot of signs that it’ll be getting much better. So we band together. We stick up for each other. We push aside our differences and focus instead on what we have in common: our humanity.
A friend recently posted online that we had the “chance to … return a moral & religious & humble man to the office of the president” and wonders why the nation didn’t take it. And really, that just leaves me wondering why she doesn’t think that those of us who are LDS and Democrat felt as though we did return a moral, religious, humble man to the office of president. (Well … humble is a strong word when referring to a politician. Let’s be honest.)
We all have our reasons for voting why we do because of who we are. Instinctively, I lean towards liberalness because I want to serve others, share with them what I have and can give, ensure my niece and nephew and friends’ children can grow up with a good education, that no one can be turned away for medical insurance, regardless of the reason (newsflash, all medical insurance companies who have denied me again and again: if you continue considering acne to be a pre-existing condition, then we’re all doomed. DOOMED I tell you.), and that, when I am very old, I can breathe in fresh air, drink clean water, and continue to really only worry about my first world concerns, which pale in comparison to the rest of the world.
… And since I know you’re probably itching to ask, I do not have any sort of political stance on gay marriage, abortion, or legalized marijuana because those are what I consider social, fringe issues. I never have, and never will, vote for or against a candidate based upon his or her opinions on any of those matters, unless they somehow infringe upon my life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.
*I promise I will never ever do this to you ever again. Ever.
If you are interested in learning more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit http://www.lds.org or http://www.mormon.org. The Church has chosen to remain politically neutral and has never taken a stance, instead asking members to prayerfully make educated decisions during election years.