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.