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If you're going to talk politics, then please...

If you don't mind, but just for today, I'd like to sound-off for a minute...  I really enjoy the political process, but I am not a fan of "talking" politics.  Like one person who responded to a recent comment I made on Facebook, "Awe...I hate politics, it brings out the worst in people."   I have to admit, I agree.

I decided to blog about this problem, because I would really like to see more LDS members be able to discuss politics, and not have it turn ugly.  A good conversation can lead to a lot of learning, understanding and ultimately goodwill between those who think, believe and feel differently.  I like to learn, as much as I like to teach.  And above all, I love truth!




But here's what disturbs me the most, about this type of negative exchange -- good people who actually stand for similar values, often find themselves at odds with each other, in the name of a particular candidate or issue!  What's that all about?  I think we need to be very careful when we're out there having political conversations -- on whatever topic or individual, that we determine first, our intent for doing so.  Let me just say, that I'm committed to not using my blog to promote political candidates.  I'm much more interested in promoting faith and values, to those who share similar standards.  If I happen to blog about a particular candidate, it's going to be on general terms -- not to promote.  Perhaps we could also use this approach, wherever we have influence.

Hopefully, most people that come in contact with you online, also know that you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This declaration alone, ought to help you remember who you've made a covenant to represent in your everyday walk and talk.  I know it does for me.  I would be so disappointed in myself,  if someone had contact with me, that then reflected in a negative way on the LDS Church -- and more specifically, on Jesus Christ.  

You may think that I'm looking through rose colored glasses when I suggest that we should be able to talk politics, or even religion, with those who think differently than us. But I don't think so.  It just takes the right kind of people.  People who care more about respecting another individual's 'right' to have an opinion that is different from theirs -- and also a willingness to learn -- than in 'being right'.  

I'm not saying they will ever change our position or opinion, or you theirs, but understanding what motivates other people can be really helpful in creating positive feelings and developing relationships of trust.  You know, good old fashion good feelings between two people!  

I have many online friends that I respect greatly, specifically for their ability to have the more 'sensitive' types of conversations -- like politics or religion --  without being critical, judgemental, or aggressive with their opinions.  Those are my favorite kinds of friends to make.  I learn a lot from them, and I'm thinking or hoping, that I've been able to broaden their perspectives about what I feel, believe and think, too.  For sure, it is from these positive types of  interactions, online, that I have learned to tone down my own passions.  Really, it's a good thing, and I highly recommend trying it the next time you start into a conversation about politics, or religion, with people who might be perceived as different than you!

And above all, IF you're going to talk politics, then please... stand on your own personal beliefs, values and opinions -- as your own.  Yes, we are Mormon, and as such, much of what we stand for is founded on the teachings of Mormonism.  However, in the public square of politics, it is not necessary or recommended to attempt to use the Church, or your Christianity, to proclaim with passion your position.  Many good people can easily be put off by this approach.  Rather, we are often much more effective communicating and building bridges with others, on foundations that we all can relate to.

You may or may not agree with me, but I find it helpful to keep this in mind: 

Because I believe... I am a Mormon, and NOT because I am a Mormon, I believe...   Think about it.  Take away the Church and ask yourself if you suddenly are going to be a different person?  No, I don't think so.  Not at your very core.  I embrace my faith because it resonates with my spirit of what is right and true.  Therefore, my power as an individual comes from this place and not my membership in the Church.  

Now, go forth and use your own power, with greater wisdom... 

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs







4 comments :

  1. I love this post - so refreshing to see someone promoting rational discussion about politics and religion!

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  2. @Megan -

    If it encourages a few more positive conversation about politics or religion, then perhaps I've done something worthwhile. ; )

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  3. Excellent post. I really appreciate your call to actually engage in politics--I think the most dangerous thing we can do is to leave the discussion of politics to "others" -- if good, friendly, well-intentioned people don't take up the important issues of the day, who will?

    Just as a case study that backs up your post: my Google+ feed has been the site for quite a few deep political discussions over the past weeks and months. The other day, a friend of mine (who isn't a Mormon) read the 20+ comments (all made by members of the church) under one of my posts on Social Security. He was amazed at the civility and respect with which everyone treated each other, despite our disagreements. His respect rose for the Mormon church and our ability to disagree without being disagreeable.

    I think politics and religion are two of the most important things we can discuss online, and while both take substantial effort (sometimes the best idea is to walk away from the keyboard and think a bit before responding to a particularly aggravating post), I feel both are well worth the investment.

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  4. @Jeff -

    Thanks! And how did I miss that thread on G+? I'm going to have to pop over and check it out. I love that example, though. But really, even one person can turn a potentially negative exchange about politics, or religion, and make it a positive for everyone involved. I think it has a lot to do with 'tone' and 'intention'.

    It is refreshing to discuss politics or religion, online, with those who are more interesting in learning and discussing versus debating and defending. I hope to see many more members step out and have these positive conversations as well.

    We do need to be part of these conversations. LDS members can have a powerful influence for good in helping to create positive feelings in discussing these matters.

    Thanks for sharing!

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