Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Frenzy

I have been somewhat concerned by what I have witnessed in this election season. Those who know me can attest that I love to follow politics and I am usually quite involved in our nation's decision making process but recently I've become extremely disaffected. I could talk about quite a few different things that have been troubling, the name Joe the Plumber comes to mind, but I will confine myself to the one I find most difficult. Proposition 8 in California, for those who are not aware Proposition 8 is a proposed California State Constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage and legally define marriage as a union between man and woman. The proposition itself I think is a fine thing. It is an important issue and shows what is great about a democratic system, that when it becomes necessary we can redefine or refine the law. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, one of the most significant groups in favor of the proposition. I also personally believe in marriage between a man and a woman, all I will say to support that is that I believe it is God's plan as I understand it. It would seem that my feelings on this would be clear cut after this introduction but it is much more complicated than that. I also believe in agency, or choice, basically everyone is entitled to do what they think is best with their own life. That in and of itself isn't my problem with the Proposition 8 debate however. What has been difficult for me to deal with is the outrageous amounts of hatred and prejudice that I have witnessed on both sides of this debate. I am astounded at the propaganda and indoctrination that has been attempted by both sides, and unfortunately in my opinion, to an even greater degree by those in favor of it. I have heard all sorts of horror stories and apocalyptic predictions of what will occur if the proposition fails. Within the community of the mormon church stories are rampant about important church leaders condemning any church member who does not significantly contribute to the campaign. Even more troublesome are the rumors of what "the gays" will do once they have gained the right to same-sex marriages. As I understand it from some, it is one step from that to children being indoctrinated in school to hate their parents and experiment with homosexuality. It is has been as divisive an issue on the campus of my own university as any that I can recall. It bothers me to see tactics such as paranoia and fear-mongering exploited by people I respect even if it is for a worthwhile goal. Don't misunderstand me, I think that one of the most noble things one can do is take a moral stand. I think that if one takes such a stand they are in some ways obligated to attempt to share it and convince others to believe the same but to resort to loathsome tactics such as these strikes me as distinctly unchristian. I worry that regardless of the outcome of the vote tomorrow this may end up as a loss for everyone. Is changing a law worth sacrificing friends and neighbors? Is years of hatred caused by misunderstanding a worthwhile trade if it helps your side win? Is it justified because "they" are doing it too? It seems to me that same-sex marriage or no there will be for many years to come imprinted in the minds of many the stereotypes of ignorant self-righteous religious zealots and godless attention seekers who wish to force their lifestyle onto others. I hope that after the votes are tallied and the election frenzy dies down that people will continue to stand up for what they believe in and seek to contribute to the political system. However, first and foremost I hope everyone will remember how Jesus fought his battles and the commandment he stressed above all others. That we love one another.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Welcome to Utah

I feel that the most appropriate place for me to begin my blogging will be with an insight into what I'm sure will come to be one of the staples of this blog. The Utah Mormon Culture.

I find that I am on an almost daily basis amazed, entertained, and annoyed by various attitudes and traditions that our isolated little culture has inspired. The example I will focus on today deals with returned missionaries. It is no surprise to anyone that missionaries tend to return to where they came from profoundly affected by the area where they served. They adopt elements of the culture, dress, and attitudes of the area they served. I served a mission in Norway and because of that love techno music and euro mullets. Had I not lived in Norway there is no way I would like those things (well I might still like techno, it is amazing). However, sometimes this is taken to extremes. Ridiculous extremes.

Let us examine this idea deeper. I will start with an experience from Church several weeks ago. School has just started so I'm now in a new singles ward. With this comes introductions, the tentative feeling out, looking for just that right clique to ally yourself with. Also the obnoxious kids take the opportunity to secure their positions in the pecking order via extreme social posturing, also known as showing off. Well let me explain how these introductions go. It is pretty much a standard procedure. First you say your name, then where you are from, then what your major is, and finally where you went on your mission. I can't even begin to say how many times I've had to repeat those four facts these last few weeks. Well, where you went on your mission says a lot. Each mission has its own culture and stereotypes associated with it. So what I noticed is the way everyone pronounced their mission name. Those who served in the USA managed to say it without adding anything extra. The same for those who went to Europe. Ahh, but not those who served in South America. They pronounced their mission roughly like so: BBBBuueenossss HHaaiirrrrrrressss, Hhaaarrgentina. They somehow manage to roll about 86 r's even in words that don't have r's. If it weren't so annoying it would be impressive. To be fair it is impressive that they have managed to learn a foreign language and master it. However, I would submit that just because you can say a place name with a thick accent doesn't necessarily mean that you are some kind of prodigy linguist. I have also noticed that it is only missionaries who serve in South America who are guilty of this crime against decency. I myself am quite capable of saying the name of my mission in Norwegian, should I do so it would go from Ahslo, Norway, which is how it is pronounced in English, to Oshlo, Norge. There is a considerable difference there and I submit that most people wouldn't even understand what I said. Wouldn't that be impressive? Yet amazingly, I, along with pretty much everyone other RM from Europe, can say the name of my mission in English.

I wish I could say that is where it ends but unfortunately it is not. These same RM's also seem to be incapable of ordering, talking about Mexican food without making a mockery of themselves. I will give a recent example, I went with one of my friends to a Mexican restaurant where he ordered a BbuRRRRiittto. The Mexican lady working there gave him a weird look and asked if he wanted a burrito. He said yes and then to cover his embarrassment explained how he as a pale white boy spoke better Spanish than this Mexican lady because he served a mission in Peru where they speak real Spanish unlike those Mexicans who apparently butcher their native language. I have my own opinion of butchery, but you can just guess what that might be. This is another example that seems to be exclusive to South American Missionaries. I have another good friend who served a mission in Alabama and he sure doesn't start talking like a gansta' from da' hood any time he mentions fried chicken. Another example, I have a friend who served in Australia and I will personally guarantee that he has never asked someone to "throw another shrimp on the barbie."

On that note I will conclude by thanking all of those returned missionaries who have retained their dignity and are still capable of communicating in intelligible English even when everyone would be so impressed if they were to grace us with their hard earned and authentic native accents at the drop of a hat.

An idea whose time has come

I find that I often form opinions. I would go as far as to say strongly held opinions. Those who are close to me often find that they are burdened with them as I am incapable of holding them to myself. So as to avoid ranting and at the encouragement of a number of particularly burdened friends I have taken it upon myself to create this blog and provide myself with an outlet which will help me maintain the goodwill of my current social network. I do this fully aware of the fact that not all will agree with my ideas and commentary. To those who may find themselves in this group I say merely: such is life. With this disclaimer I proceed with my blogging.