Playing Nice

I’ve been thinking lately how we ex-Mormons are often lumped together as a rather nasty, bitter sort of people full of hate. Tne “Recovery from Mormonism” board is routinely described on Mormon boards as being a “cesspool” of hate, mental illness, and irrationality. I’m sure these descriptions annoy you as much as they do me, as the descriptions, to me, signal more a need for certain people to marginalize and discredit us as evil apostates.

That said, I understand the hurt, the anger, and even the bitterness many of us feel, and I think getting it out of our systems is a good thing. Eventually, it passes, and most of us can move on with some degree of peace. I know that, for the most part, I am more at peace with myself than I ever was before.

But sometimes I think we’re guilty of doing the same thing in reverse to Mormons. Certainly there are aspects of the religion and its teachings that many of us find destructive and abhorrent, and rightly so. I’m sure we all understand just what the church can do to your psyche. But sometimes in casting off those undesirable aspects, we lump individual Mormons in with the general behavior, even if it’s not deserved.

I try to put myself in the position of members when I talk to them. How would I have responded, knowing what I was taught in the church? I probably would have assumed, as many do, that apostasy comes from sin or offense or lazinss, or whatever. Not because I myself am the kind of judgmental jerk who would jump to that conclusion, but because the church taught me that is why people leave. I would have had a disconnect between the person I know, and the alleged reasons for leaving.

In short, I’m saying that I need to be better about cutting church members a break. Yes, some people are nasty and vicious, but I’m not talking about them. Rotten people are in and out of the church. But I am trying to see the difference between intentionally cruel behavior and the conditioned reactions that people have toward us. It isn’t their fault, really, that they absorbed some toxic teachings. Look at that priesthood lesson in this year’s manual about how awful we apostates are. How could someone be taught that all their lives and not absorb it?

Anyway, I’m not excusing bad behavior, but trying to figure out how best to respond when people perhaps unwittingly fall victim to stereotyping of us evil apostates.

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5 Responses to Playing Nice

  1. Rick says:

    Agreed. In matters of “faith,” what we believe is at the core of our life purpose, and any challenge to that is perceived as an attack like any physical attack…and the core “fight or flight” reaction kicks in.

    It’s only when we are able to put ourselves in their shoes that we can be civil and empathetic. That takes time.

    ~Rick

  2. Ray Agostini says:

    I’ve always liked this quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

    During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.”

  3. Odell says:

    I agree with your comments in principle and practice. However, and unfortunately, the LDS church conditions even the most kind Mormon to dispise the LDS apostate making any empathy on the part of the former Latter-Day Saint difficult, if not impossible, to practice.

  4. Bull says:

    My recent exchanges with my brother are, unfortunately, a fairly typical example of the Mormon conditioning. He responded as programmed, probably fully believing what he said without once considering that it might a) be really offensive and b) completely wrong. Once he realized that I was offended and that he was wrong he rapidly tried to make amends, although not without trying to play the persecuted member card.

    I generally don’t feel a lot of anger any more, but it doesn’t take much to bring it back. Thankfully there are places like outer blogness and RfM for venting so that I can be a bit more charitable toward the people in my life.

  5. […] the interfaith relations department, Runtu has resolved to play nice with the faithful, and not paint them all with the same negative brush. I should probably take a […]

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