A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Shoulda Woulda Coulda (Or, Unrighteous Indignation)

Approximately 76.8% of my blog posts are inspired by things I should have said. You know the conversations - where everyone around you is of one mind on a given topic, but you think differently.  (For the record, this applies to both political conversations with my conservative friends and religious conversations with my friends of other faiths or no faith). Driving home from those conversations, I usually think up great retorts and zinging one liners to prove how wrong those people were/are. Later, after calming down and being less angry, I think of probing questions to ask that may have provoked people to think about their position and see things from the other side. Usually I simply regret that none of this occurred to me at the time of the conversation, because it's far too late now to come back and re-discuss the topic.

"Happiness is...a witty reply that totally wins the argument"
So blogging is basically my coward's way out. I get all the satisfaction of responding in just the way I like, without any of the dissatisfaction of actually having to be the voice of an unpopular minority in the conversation.  Yet sometimes I wonder, am I shortchanging both myself and my friends by doing this? An anonymous rant on the internet may be emotionally satisfying in the moment, but it's not really helping in the long term. Would it be better to speak up, however in-artfully and incoherently, and risk that we might both learn something? Maybe there are others who are silently thinking the same thing? Perhaps if I spoke, they might also be able to speak.

How do I get over my cowardice? There's a verse in the Book of Mormon, which states "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that you bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love..." (Alma 38:12). I think this is applicable here - a balance between "boldness" or courage in your beliefs, but also without being overbearing, which the dictionary describes as "unpleasantly or arrogantly domineering." Too often, I am "righteously indignant" (especially in the zinger phase) that my friends are so wrong or narrow minded, without remembering that it's just as likely that I am wrong or narrow minded in my thinking and without remembering to love my friends. By blogging about it, I preclude responses to my thoughts that might benefit both me and my friends.

It's helpful context to know that the Book of Mormon verse above is Alma's advice to his son. Alma states further "Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy--yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times" (Alma 38:14). Too often, I'm silently patting myself on my back with righteous indignation which is anything but righteous. I need to work on remembering my friends in mercy, instead of the shoulda, woulda, coulda approach of trying to zing them with my take-downs. Even if they're wrong - and let's face it, sometimes they are. But sometimes I need to be filled with love instead of anger.