Mormonism, Politics and Why I’m Saying Bye to Social Media

Guys, I’m so tired. I feel physically tired, mostly because this afternoon while out I was suddenly hit with an enormous wave of depression that has left me alternately sad and apathetic and filled with physical pain.

And also the title is probably overly dramatic, because I’m really only peacing out to Facebook for now because people tend to be less dickhead-ish on Instagram. I have some friends with very adorable children whose lives I need to follow somehow and a makeup business to maintain, after all, so I can’t just go off the grid entirely (although writing that makes me think, “But maybe I could.”).

I’m going to say this once, and then I’m never saying it again on a public forum (and I assure you, I am filled with a lot of trepidation over even mentioning it in a not-very-publicized or even read blog, fear that I will be attacked by racists and/or misogynists or, even worse, friends who claim they love and respect me): I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve been planning on it since 2012 and haven’t read anything that’s changed my position or made me think I’m making the wrong decision for myself. For a much better, more detailed explanation than I could ever give about the root of Hillary’s problems is that she is, unfortunately, a woman, check out this amazing article here (you’re not going to read it, are you? You’re going to skip it and have already thought up horrible things to say to me. Go ahead. I won’t read it for awhile anyhow.). Plenty of men, plenty of politicians, plenty of Republicans have done many of the same “egregious” and “unforgivable” things with little to no consequence, but America can’t seem to give her a pass. Do I love her? Not really. But I certainly don’t despise her, and I think she’d make a very fine president. Anyhow, I didn’t want to say it, but it’s important that you know my stance before I get into the rest of my post.

I am faced with two pretty glaring problems, however: 1. I am a liberal living in a predominately VERY conservative state and 2. social media has turned us all into argumentative, vicious monsters who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. We speak loudly and carry multiple big sticks (or assault rifles, you know. Whatever.), and we believe it is our God given right to tell everyone how wrong they are. I abstain from this behavior because my anxiety can’t take it, I respect my friends, and I think by now it’s been VERY effectively proven that arguing online neither changes minds nor strengthens bonds. It’s a whole new world of us vs. them, but we’re sacrificing families and long-lasting friendships in the name of being champion. If that isn’t America’s tragedy, I’m not sure what is.

Growing up Mormon, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning certain aspects of the religion, periods of disbelief, and moments of quiet contemplation, but I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about Mormonism. So most of what I’m about to say is kind of the Gospel According to Mary, and you may take it as you will.

Election years always bring to mind Article of Faith #12, which states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law (emphasis added).” So basically what it’s saying is we will uphold the law (except when it comes to driving down I-15 apparently) and we will honor and sustain our lawmakers, which includes but is not limited to our president, and that’s the rub, isn’t it? We claim to believe we will honor (which can mean respect, not attack or cyber-bully, or spread lies and rumors) the President of the United States of America, but in a religion that is somehow very Republican (and for those of you not particularly familiar with the Church, we are not told to vote one way or another — this is just how the cookie has crumbled, politically, within the Church’s culture for decades, and damned if I understand it), that’s pretty hard when the president is a Democrat. And I’ll say this goes the other way as well, of course, although the last time we had a Republican in office, social media certainly hadn’t taken off in the way it has today, but Democrats are not exempt from this particular Article of Faith. We don’t have to agree or like it, but we have to be respectful.

Newsflash: most aren’t. #religiouspeopleamirite

This year’s election, which simply cannot come to an end faster for me, has also brought to mind Article of Faith #13, which states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … (emphasis added).” So this says very plainly that Mormons believe in not spreading lies, gossip, rumors, or falsehoods, and that we will bestow upon all others benevolence (which is defined as offering charity and goodwill) and virtue (which is defined as moral uprightness). I mean, basically we claim to believe in being literally the best versions of ourselves, kind, tender, forgiving, and honest. So I find myself utterly confused when I see dozens of Mormons all around me (and this is just within my circle of friends and acquaintances — I have no doubt in my mind that there are thousands, if not millions, of Mormons capable of this as well) posting anti-Hillary sentiments on a daily basis. It’s easy to repost a meme or a picture or an article or something that’s awful (even if it may be true). And apparently (and I’m speculating here, but I feel pretty confident in my assumption) Mormons believe in being benevolent to and honest about anyone except for Hillary Clinton because somehow she doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “all men” (I could say something again about misogyny but I don’t want to beat a dead horse). So that’s weird to me. And I feel like there’s some sort of discord and disconnect.

I’ve been heartbroken this year, particularly, to see individuals whom I held in very high esteem be, quite frankly, terrible humans online. It’s shaken my faith, it’s made me question why I belong to the Church still, in spite of everything, and I imagine Joseph Smith, who was martyred in the name of this religion, coming down from the proverbial mount with the 13 Articles of Faith, a modern-day Moses who just received the Ten Commandments, weeping because we’ve built a golden calf and do nothing but idolize it all day long.

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Like a Fish Out of Water

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.*

Image courtesy of standupamericaus.org

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.

Image courtesy of tumblr.com

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.

Photo courtesy of my iPhone

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.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood on Facebook
(https://www.facebook.com/PlannedParenthoodAction?fref=ts)

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

  1. an idiot
  2. someone who believes lies
  3. not worthy of a temple recommend
  4. going to hell
  5. 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.

Mormon missionaries take part in a winter clothing and supply drive in the Staten Island and Rockaway areas
Photo courtesy of mormonnewsroom.org. All rights reserved.

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.

Photo courtesy of ysu.edu

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.