In the book 1984, George Orwell introduced a concept that has stuck with me since my first reading in the 8th grade.  Doublethink, he says, is the act of simultaneously accepting as correct two contradictory beliefs, often within a social context.  This is a powerful idea, mainly because so many of us – maybe even all of us to a degree – engage in this behavior.

Recently, I was listening to an old, old, old Mormon Stories (okay, maybe just old, old) podcast entitled, "Raising Children in a Non-Traditional LDS Home." (If you want to listen to it, click here.  It's 143–146.)  While the podcast made me realize that my children will be growing up in a more traditional environment than I might normally concede, it had quite a few gems, many of which kickstarted the cognitive gears.

And that's how we got here.

One of the panelists (I believe his name was Lee) made a simple, but poignant comment as to the values which are instilled within children.  He posited:
How well do Latter-day Saints teach tolerance and inclusion beyond ethnic, cultural and national orientation?  And beyond that, diversity of thought, diversity of action and diversity of belief?
Now, listen.  I know that I just posted about tolerance (if you missed it, you can read it here).  I promise that this is not a rehashing of that topic.

Indeed, I would say that this is about something more.  To me, this is about rooting out the fundamental problem with so called 'intolerance' in the first place.  It is about the cognitive dissonance between what we say and hold to be true about the Gospel, especially within the framework of missionary efforts, and what our cultural actions imply about those who are different from the mainstream, the status quo.

I wonder how many times I have heard someone say, "The beauty of the Gospel is that it is for everyone!"  Dozens, I'm sure.  And you know what?  It's true!  The Gospel can reach everyone, can affect anyone's life, because there are no limitations on its grasp of the human condition.  There is no specific demographic that are eligible for conversion; all are welcomed by the Savior into His fold.

I wonder if the same is true of us.  Are all welcomed into our midsts?*  This thought has weighed heavily upon my heart and mind since it materialized there so innocently days ago.  We say that the Gospel is for everyone.  But then our actions seem to imply that the uniqueness of that person must be drained from them in order to make them same.  In order to make them comfortable.

What does that say about our culture?  On the one hand, I can see that to a certain extent it could be interpreted that some of our one-ness must be sacrificed for unity.  On the other, I wonder if we cheapen our Mormon experience as a whole because we shun the different.

In effect, though, I think that this occurs internally and externally.  I'm amazed at how much pressure we put on ourselves to be...grey.  Our lives, our personalities, our very souls are injected with color!  With vibrancy!  With diversity of thought, action and motivation!  And that diversity is beautiful!

And even more importantly, it is essential.  Essential to our community as Saints and to our ability to draw together in order to come unto Christ.

But then, we all have had experiences where those amongst us have made us feel less faithful, less...Mormon...because of this very diversity.  Take for example, a blog post from a recently made friend wherein she describes a Saint who judges her for listening to NPR and hip hop.  Really.  You can read it here.  (As a side note, if this is true a special seat in outer darkness is being reserved especially for me.)

Really, it's a tragedy.

So here's what I posit:  Let us be more kind.  Let us rejoice in our diversity, both within ourselves and in those with whom we come into contact.  Let us recognize that it is Christ who has given us diversity in experience so that we might become colorful people.  Let us gather together with those different from ourselves, embrace them and see Christ through their eyes in order to see His many dimensions of love.

Perhaps most important of all, let us love one another and stop questioning each other and our own righteousness.

*Whether or not I can pluralize 'midst' took 15 minutes, 3 computers and 2 people.  The OED says yes, but only if we're talking about multiple sets of peoples.  Which I am.  So there.


treen said...

I read your friend's blog post that you linked, and that was ... amazing. There are no words. Really.

Lauren Kay said...

Oh, Trina. There are so many words. Just none that we can say here.

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