Over the past several months I’ve been dealing with a dilemma at work. Most of you know that I am a teacher and I spend all my time helping those with special needs (that is not my problem). The problem is with some of the other teachers who I believe are in need of special services… just kidding of course.
These are not major problems by any means and I want to emphatically state that to a person I enjoy a majority of our conversations and enjoy the perspective that many bring to the table and in this case there really is a table, the lunch table where we often engage in spirited conversations.
The problem is, as long as I tone down my rhetoric everything is fine and when I say tone it down I mean refuse to honestly open up about my politics or even my religion. On the few occasions that those topics were broached the very nature of the conversation changed. I often sense a drastic cooling in the room when I start to mention my personal beliefs and on a few other occasions had I not backed off the conversation would have turned heated, not from my end I am proud to say.
The problem is in the democratic sharing of ideas that are to me the foundation of our great country and the only way I believe to develop a solid foundation for alternating beliefs. But the dogmatic rhetoric within this school and most schools is disturbing as it presents a wholly one sided view and not the preached eclectic openness of liberalism that is espoused and supposed to helps all to learn. It’s ok for me to sit and listen while other spout off their likes and dislikes about this candidate or this policy but when I interject with a more conservative view the process of democracy is quickly stifled.
Ooh their polite and many would rather walk away then have to confront someone who thinks differently than they do, but when a discussion is sidelined by non participation then the process of discussion is over, leaving every one less informed and less able to overcome the major differences that exist in every avenue of life and work.
I am one who likes to discuss and I like to banter back and forth with the idea that I may actually learn from the others point of view, but the opposite is very rarely true with the others spewing their lines like automatons programmed to respond only in a very specific and pre-planned way, with their ears turned off so that if any divergent ideas seek audience in their brain it can be summarily removed before any real damage can occur.
I have purposely left off all reference to my school and will not even mention the names nor change the names to protect the innocent. The specific individuals matter little in relation to the overriding void of openness that should exist as the educated speak and ponder those ideas presented.
For many years I have been vocal about the issues I saw as important. It’s easy to do as a blogger but almost impossible to do as an educator. If I did decide to voice my opinions almost immediately a cloud of discord showers down the liberal line, drenching me in a diatribe of illogical and honestly, irrationality, that stems from too many years of following the wake of some great ship, thinking that the waves will protect if only we stay in close proximity to those ideas, never realizing the true danger of those waves and the easy in which they can pull you under the boat and shred you to ribbons by the powerful propellers. The wake of the boat increases in danger the closer you actually get to the boat. In other words, the more inline you are with one singular thought the less able you are to accept the truths that are so often in abundance, if one is really able to or willing to listen.
There are only a few teachers that would even entertain a discussion of voting for the conservative or even the non democrat, most getting visibly disturbed by the very act of breaking their life long bubble of perception with no variance available toward consideration of another’s point of view to ever consider the possibility of change.
Just the other day I was in a polite conversation with a language teacher who I have talked to in the past with most of our conversations surrounding the unconcerned areas of life and the safe areas of politics, meaning I simply agreed and let them talk while I nodded my head to be polite, not wanting to offend in any way. But the conversation turned to religion and I was asked what church I attended? My answer was direct and to the point as I stated that I was a “Latter Day Saint” with the needed attachment that we are also called “Mormons”.
Almost from one breath to the next the conversation went from cordial and friendly to the other party standing up and making excuses for having to leave and a subsequent issue of no contact with only a polite but curt greeting in the hall. The question arises, why would my choice of religious offend another? Do they not have that same choice and why is it that my choice is not as valid as their choice? Does not the same logic follow all of our choices?
I know politics and religion are two volatile subjects that are often encouraged not to be broached but my question is why? I feel strongly about who I am and how I can retain my understanding of myself and my fellow man though the process of self examination and study. I enjoy learning from others and receive great satisfaction when profitable discussions can be achieved with the almost mandatory segregation due some illogical discord based on inaccurate perceptions.
The problem is not just around my work room table but seems to be a rampant issue across this great land. We as a country have lost the ability to openly discuss and share, holding the principles of mutual respect to guide our thoughts into learning from each and with no overall principle of conversion from either side.
Many shed their logical skins when Mormonism is even mentioned, feeling uncomfortable with the whole idea that as a Christ centered Mormon I can have profound feelings for the Son of God. So often parishioners have heard the propaganda of horns on our heads and lecherous activities within our temples and the ideas of having multiple wives leading many to conclude that the Warren Jeffers crowd and the LDS Church are one in the same….Not even close.
It’s not in the misunderstandings that bother me but in the ignorant refusal to discuss our differences. In both religion and politics the inner sanctum of ones mind often overshadows the practical as screaming priests or politicians can be heard in the minds of the weak telling them to ignore whatever is being said, regardless of the truth.
It is primarily due to my belief that I seek to further my foundations of truth. I can read, ponder, even pray to find the truth but only when I live what I believe will the truth of my decisions be known, for “faith has to proceed the miracles of belief”…Spencer Kimball.
Even within politics the religious fervor of one party over another transcends the common sense and destroys all rationality. One of the teachers asked who I was voting for, thinking that I would have taken the Educational side and chosen either Sanders or Hillary, When I mentioned Trump the room went quiet before the storm of reprisal and the negative slurs began in Ernest and unabated until I either stopped defending my life or I left the room.
When was it OK to disregard the beliefs of one over the beliefs of the others? When was it OK to demand a belief prior to participating in a conversation? Do we all have to agree on everything? If I like blue and you like red does that make me wrong or you conversely more right than me? When did this country become so rude and inconsiderate? And when did my beliefs create in others the need to lambaste and condemn me for those beliefs?
I will most likely continue my soft footed approach to lunch room discussions but I will never back down when my thoughts or my beliefs are converted to hate and revulsion from others that do not agree. Let me close with this. I am a Mormon. I believe in Christ as the Son of God. I am a Christian by all rights and would like to remind all who disagree that the name of my Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. What’s the name of your church and what does that say about your devotion?
My politics are Christ centered with the overriding belief that teaching a man to fish is ultimately the goal of any social or welfare system. I believe in honesty and integrity and search the candidates for those who are honest, capable and electable. I believe in the constitution and its divine origination.
So if you don’t agree with my stance, at least have the maturity to agree but disagree and leave the name calling to those who are truly ignorant.