We Can Do Better
I am once again deeply concerned about the social media posting that has been so bitter during this current political crisis. I raised this concern over a year ago when we faced a hard-fought election season and challenged ward members not to get caught up in the lack of civility that was so prevalent. I was deeply impressed that ward members heeded this challenge and kept their dialog civil.
I feel it is of no small coincidence that two Apostles (Elder Perry and Elder Anderson) reminded us of the importance of the 12th Article of Faith which reads:
We believe in being
presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in ,
honoring, and sustaining the .
Focus for a minute in the terms “obeying, honoring, and sustain.” Where, in these admonitions, are we encouraged to be rude, close-minded, or disrespectful?
Now add to this the following words from President Hinckley:
Civility is the root of the word civilization. It carries with it the essence of courtesy, politeness, and consideration of others. How very much of it we have lost in our contemporary society! All of the education and accomplishments in the world will not count for much unless they are accompanied by marks of gentility, of respect for others, of serving as a good Samaritan, of being men and women who look beyond our own selfish interests to the good of others. Our Fading Civility, June 10, 2008.
In light of these two powerful concepts, let me offer some suggestions.
The height of disrespect, which runs counter to President Hinckley’s counsel, comes in name calling of elected officials. I have seen Face Book posts referring to President Obama a liar, slime ball, dictator, and as Satan incarnate. These irresponsible and childish epithets were found on Face Book pages hosted by members of the Church. In my opinion, when we resort to name calling, we dilute our own voices in the conversation and become nothing more than annoying static.
A sure sign of an impotent argument is when the one framing it insists on absolutes. The minute we assume ours is the only true and living opinion, we become close-minded and are no longer contributors to the political arena. There are no absolutes in politics.
When we blur the lines between our religion and our politics we run the risk of assuming that we speak for God or as God as we pontificate our beliefs. God is not American. He is not a member of any party. While our religiosity can shape our politics, it cannot become our politics.
Please remember this; America is a conversation and not a blunt instrument. The Framers of our Constitution clearly understood that this nation would evolve and change in content and complexity. They purposely left us a document and political process that could ebb and flow with those changes.
The best way to join that conversation is to integrate President Hinckley’s counsel for civility. We all can do better at constantly seeking to obey, honor, and sustain the law.