Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Words with Enemies

Last week, along with the rest of the internet, I wrote a post about Frozen.  I felt compelled to do so after reading a blog post by "Well Behaved Mormon Woman," Kathryn Skaggs, that made me want to stand up and start yelling to the world that Mormons are not all crazy people who wander around with some Haley Joel Osment-like ability to see gay people in the subtext of every Disney movie.

I disliked her post for many reasons -- I think her concerns were misguided and overblown, she came across as very paranoid and inconsistent (if you don't approve of a movie you shouldn't keep taking your grandkids to see it), and she managed to add a huge stack of dry wood to the "Mormons are crazy" fire (I hate it when people do that!).  But mostly it upset me because her post is going to be the means of building rifts, continuing deep misunderstandings, feeding misconceptions, and, for some, leading to despair.

And I honestly don't think that is what she meant to do, which is why I feel immensely sad for her. Having lived life for awhile now, I know that there are few things as soul-crushing as being misunderstood.

I have no idea what her intentions were or what good she hoped to achieve by her writing.  I have no idea what life experiences have colored the way she sees the world.  I don't know anything about her except that she claims to be a "well behaved Mormon woman."  But I do know that the vile and vitriolic way that people have responded to her blog post is unacceptable and needs to stop.

I understand that some issues (like homosexuality) are so personal and so painful that it is nearly impossible not to become defensive any time the conversation inches toward the chopping block.  Every time I read internet comments about fertility treatments, for example, I turn into this:

dear lord please grand me the power

But, I have to remind myself that these commenters don't know me.  They don't know or care what I've been through.  They don't know about my conversations with God, and they certainly don't know about His answers.  If I only see in these people what I'm looking for -- that they are a bunch of self-righteous jerks -- then I'm not really seeing them at all.

If it's ideas you are fighting against, you will never change hearts when you are using words meant to injure and demean.  Hateful words can never change hearts.  They can never inspire good.  They can never do anything but damage and destroy.  But kind words?  Compassionate words?  They soften.  They enlighten.  They help us understand and love each other in spite of our differences.

No matter what side of an argument you are on, no matter how right your ideas are, if you lace them with venom and hate, you are wrong.  Being right is important, yes.

But it is never more important than being kind.

1 comment:

kws said...

Absolutely agree. And that's possibly the best meme ever.