I am not naive enough to believe that there was some magical “long ago” when people all lived by the highest moral code and life was sweetness, light, and merriment. That is not, and (as far as I can see) will not ever be the human condition. God established the earth for a far greater purpose than that.
Even so, I find myself wading through tons of mixed emotions as I look around at modern American society. I find it so distressing that I have stopped watching TV (and was mortified by what I saw on a morning news show at the dentist’s office yesterday). Somehow we, who pride ourselves on being enlightened and progressive and advanced, seem to be losing some of the things that should be most prized about humanity.
For example, we are fast approaching another presidential election. The little I have seen of the preliminary positioning is that of insinuation, accusation, and denial of personal faults. How did we, as a country, come to value this kind of a process as our basis for choosing our leaders?
Another example is the rise of violence. It’s as if all of our advanced electronic devices have removed our ability to see other people as living beings with feelings, passions, and needs just like ours. We see personal differences as mountains to be mowed down, and take no thought of the effect of our words and actions on others as we promote our self-centered cause.
Freedom of speech, a human right so dear to the founders of America that it is included in the Bill of Rights, has taken on a new twist: if you disagree with me (or if I disagree with anything you say or think), then you are a hater, a bigot, and a small-minded excuse for a human being. Therefore, I have the right to accuse you of such, curse at you, and even threaten your well-being. How on earth are we to have respectful, enlightening conversation under these kinds of conditions? Why is it a threat to someone’s state of mind to admit that, perhaps, you or I don’t possess all of the facts or complete and total understanding of an underlying issue? When did it become a matter of honor to be able to shout down and threaten another person into silence?
Maybe I really am so completely old school that I am looking for heroes. People who aren’t necessarily perfect, but people who try at all times to live and function to the best of their knowledge and ability. People who can step outside of their own selfish concerns and look at the totality of the issue. People who don’t fly into fits when someone has a different viewpoint. People who are open to discussion, but willing to hold to their convictions. People who aren’t threatened by the idea of God, even if they don’t believe in Him. People who don’t need to shut other people down or out, but instead welcome the challenge of accepting and loving them as they are while building a solid friendship with them. Is that so strange?
I’m neither a prophet or a seer. I’m not genius enough to have all of the solutions to every problem plaguing people around the world. I’m just one person living a quiet life, serving where I can, and living my beliefs as a Latter-day Saint to the best of my ability. If I can make any difference, it would be in helping myself and others stop and think. Maybe, just maybe, we can slow the runaway train of incivility down before we have a massive wreck.