I want to add some more to my letter on the value of life (and death) among Mormons. So last letter I focused on the God aspect of it (sort of, lol). Now I want to focus on the average Joe aspect. I've been reading a book on the history of the AIDS epidemic from 1978-1985: the beginning of it in the United States, Europe, and Africa. I confess that I cry while reading this book. It just breaks my heart to know and realize how the world actually works. So when I'm finished reading this book, I am soooo going to read something lighthearted and cheery.
Reading this book helped me realize that respect for life is conditional among my friends (Mormons and non-Mormons) and family. I grew up in a family where war was viewed as being inevitable and unavoidable. War was something to glory about. Death was virtually ignored because that was just depressing, you know? Capital punishment was seen as necessary and vital to the progress and security of society. Social deviants, particularly homosexuals to my father, did not really deserve life. Oh sure, no one should organize a mob and kill them, but they were disgusting, deviant individuals that mar the good nature of "average" Americans. Who these average Americans are, I have no idea to this day. While watching television one time, he said with disgust how terrible it was that the government was giving more money to fund the AIDS research. In his opinion it was the gays' own faults for contracting this lethal disease.
I will state simply here that while I don't use "support," I do recognize the ugly truth that sometimes war is an option that must be undertaken. The why's behind this are for another time. That same attitude is also what underlies my grudging stance of allowing capital punishment to exist (in other words, why I don't actively go out and work to remove it).
Growing up in Northern California, I witnessed friends and strangers alike cry out angry words against Muslim countries during 9/11 and in the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I am ashamed to admit that I supported such actions by the United States (particularly the invasion of Iraq). Several of my friends seemed to see war as same as fighting some kid after school with a ring of kids around you to watch it and cheer you on. Our enemies were wrong and we were right. Even as a believer, I found church statements and church members' support of war disturbing. How quick people were to cite passages for going to war and fighting over the passages of peace, forgiveness, and valuing life.
The main point I have in these two letters is that Mormons do not respect life, as I have come to understand. They may give lip service and fight for fetuses' rights but they do not value life itself. Life is cheapened by such doctrines as the afterlife and resurrection. It is devalued in the face of war, murder, genocide, and apathy towards such acts. Life is excused in the face of mounting starvation, human suffering, and even distance between those suffering and those not.
But can it be excused? I mean, aren't we all human and therefore prone to errors? After all, the West once actively participated in slavery for hundreds of years but it eventually learned from its mistakes, right? After all, we seem to learn from our mistakes. Nobody's perfect. The Church is a reflection, at times, of the people that are living their lives under the counsel of God and becoming better people, right? All these things may be true. And I will never deny the fact that there are those within the LDS Church that exhibit a better understanding than I do about the sanctity of life and live according to those values better than I do. But there are also those outside of the LDS Church in other religions and organizations that do the same. There is, in my opinion, no concerted effort to value life and no real interest in interpreting scripture and theology in such a way as to respect the priceless gift of life through all of its stages.
Do you agree, Kiley?
That Crazy MoFo
That cat is evil
I love this baby :)