There are a lot of feelings going on right now. Not just personally, (though there are), but also in our whole society and country. Good feelings, bad feelings, anger, hope, sadness, dismay, distrust, relief, agony, and probably some indifference somewhere in there too because, well, balance.
I have a lot of thoughts jostling around in my head too, like little wisps of smoke that can punch and kick and grab at each other and the sides of my skull. That might sound too dramatic, but that’s the best way I can visualize it right now. I’ve read articles, I’ve read tweets, I’ve read facebook posts… people have things to say. People are hurting, people are happy, and some people are happy that others are hurting and vice versa.
I’m a sociologist, right? I guess I can say that because I do have a masters in it. So I’m a sociologist, and the thing about studying people is that it’s not really easy. It’s complicated. There are so many factors that make up a person, and so many people that make up a subculture or culture or society.
Take me, for instance. I am LDS. I have those forces pulling and pushing at me, and they are varied and highly pressurized: moral absolutes, commandments, right and wrong, sin, salvation, exaltation…. I am a woman, and one who has had a miscarriage, endometriosis, and other issues. I am educated, hailing from a well to do town, with mostly Republican immediate family. I am a wife to someone who didn’t grow up in the same circumstances; rather almost the opposite in many cases, familiar with welfare and mental health issues and instability. I am a mother to two young children who have their own issues and little personalities. I’ve lived overseas and experienced life in another country, even getting my own share of “free health care” in England. I served a mission for the church near our nation’s capitol, teaching and meeting people from all over the world. I’ve traveled to the Baltic, Russia, Germany, France, Hong Kong, etc. I am a Relief Society President and former Primary President. I’ve been in an extremely multicultural ward and Stake (London, England) and, well, Utah wards. I’ve studied subcultures and sociology. I’ve read Foucault. I’ve written for an art glass magazine. I’ve taught communications courses at a university level. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. And so on.
And we all could write similar lists, or at least give an accounting of our lives and what makes us who we are, in a similar way.
From individual to group
So recently I began to think about people. Why do people act or choose or vote the way that they do? I’m trying to make sense of why people and groups of people do the things they do. That’s sociology, basically. How does it all work? Why? Well, there is group think, intimidation, anonymity, peer pressure, etc. in addition to just ourselves and our own make up that influence behavior. There are cultural and societal pressures that manipulate and exert subtle force. And there are legal, ethical, moral or religious factors at play.
We all have our own opinions. We all have our own version of facts and what is real or not real. But what is at the heart? If you take a person, and strip away all of the extraneous layers, facades, medals, honors, whatever… what is left? What really matters?
We like to talk about foundations and cornerstones in the Church. I want to use that analogy here again. If we don’t start from a strong foundation, how will the rest of the building be “fitly framed together,” like it says in Ephesians 2:21? Let’s make this an individual test, too. If you as a person are not strong, morally grounded, upright, kind, honest, fair, open minded, then what sort of “building” or prospects can you build up from that? If part of the foundation is cracked, is it possible to build a sturdy structure that will withstand figurative wind, hail, storm, etc.?
We hear so much complaining about organizations and systems and programs. We want this and that to change. But are we building on top of crumbling structures? Are we trying to construct a mansion on top of a cracked and disintegrating foundation? How can we expect good things to come out of something or someone who is proven to be less than that? Doesn’t Christ warn us about this? Matthew 7:17 says, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”
On another note, what is more important: organizations and systems changing or the morality and character of the leader? Can a character of dubious morality really make positive changes in organizations and systems? What would Christ say? What does history prove?
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW! COME BACK!