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...