A few days ago I posted this article, Ending the Uncivil War, from BYU Magazine on my Facebook page that I begged my friends to read. Judging by all the apocalyptic posts using words like “stupid” “idiot” and “Hell” that have been filling up my feed, I’m guessing not very many people did. So let me do a little paraphrasing if you will. The words of the three authors who wrote the article; an Evangelical, the vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party, and a Democratic Senator,* can be summed up with a quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf from last conference:
When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we become “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake [forgave us].”11
The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other.
I know people feel passionately about politics; I get it. I understand being frustrated that things aren’t going the way they’d like them to.
What I can’t fathom is why people take one man who gives to charity, prays daily, attends church, and calls himself a Christian, put all of their faith in him to save America and keep the apocalypse at bay; then take another man who does the same things and make him the personification of evil.
You may not like Obama’s vision for America and you may be right that the cost is too high, but I don’t see how wanting people to have equal access to health care, education, and the American Dream is evil. You have every right not to like his ideas and methods, but let’s be careful how we throw around a word like “evil,” okay?
Hitler; evil. Bin Laden; evil. Dictators who execute whole swaths of people who disagree with them; evil.
Well, he’s our president, whether we like it or not. So how about we start showing him the respect he deserves–even if we don’t agree with him–and usher in a return to civility? One man can’t destroy our country just like one man can’t save it. It will take all of us to do one or the other. My preference would be for saving.
To that end, I’m taking the pledge that Mark Demoss, the Evangelical author of this article, asked members of Congress and people everywhere to take as part of his civility project:
1. I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior
2. I will be respectful of others, whether or not I agree with them.
3. I will stand against incivility where and when I see it.
I haven’t always been respectful of every president (sorry #43), but I’m going to do better now. Not just with presidents, but with people in general. I’m even going to try really hard not to yell at people when I drive. I may have to stop driving for a while. I’ll do it though, if that’s what it takes to make my corner of the world a little bit nicer (no cracks about my driving ability please).
I know there are many people out there who believe God is affiliated with one political party, but no matter how many scriptures are quoted (or more often paraphrased), I haven’t heard any compelling evidence that God cares more about political parties than people. So can I ask that we stop accusing Obama of ushering in the end times? Faith and fear can not reside in the same place, so how about we let go of the fear.
Maybe this quote from another apostle at another of our general conferences will help:
There are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable…If we show love and respect even in adverse circumstances, we become more like Christ (Quentin L. Cook, “We Follow Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2010),
Oh, and by the way, I voted for the guy who lost too.
* That’s right, the university that doesn’t allow men to have hair below their collars, women to wear bikinis, or anyone to wear shorts above their knees–but does encourage people to report others’ infractions–invited not one, but two Democrats to speak to its students. Their Conservative merit badge just may be revoked.