Purity of Language

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend that said that they had been made afraid by political correctness, and that that was one of the ways things were getting better now. I was confused, but I didn't dig in at the time, and then my own concerns escaped my simple needs, and I never got back to it. For that I'm sorry. This is my woefully inadequate attempt to fix.

My earliest memory of "political correctness" would have been early high school. That puts me right into the middle of the second great debate. Most of the concern at the time was around our society grasping new words to try to be more inclusive of women in our discourse. As an antiquarian or paleophile at heart, I was on board with words like "chairperson" being an abomination. Until, one day, reading a book of essays on recreational mathematics (as one does for fun in high school), I read this by Douglas Hofstadter, and my mind melted and formed anew.


Go on, read that. I'll wait.

Anybody who was forced to (or for fun (hi!)) read 1984 should recognize that language has power. For me the danger presented by post-Regency English is pretending that people that are women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, disabled, poor, other/no religion, etc. don't exist. And that damage is what "political correctness" is working to undo. Now, I have to believe that this term has come to mean something else to the Fox presenters who yell it at me every day as I walk past the TVs at work. Those talking heads tell me that it somehow forces a uniformity of thought and action. That it threatens me, and those I love. I don't understand, and would love for those that pay more attention, or have felt afraid to help me there.

As I've taken Hofstadter's arguments to heart, I haven't seen increased uniformity in my life. Learning that different words mean different things to different people at different times. Choosing phrasing that includes people not like me within the realm of possibility. Thoughtfully listening to the pain of others mocked and ostracized for not fitting in with our default American image. These experiences have made me better (not good, just better), and given me a richer, more colorful, joyful life. Seeing the options available to my wife and son and daughter, compared to then gives me hope. I assert that having society ask me (an introvert) to get to know and pay attention to people is an improvement for me and for it. Pretending we're all the Cleaver family and nothing else exists is so much less interesting and less true.

So please, those of you that disagree with me. Let's have a conversation. I promise not to mock or make afraid. I promise to make angry eyes at those that do. If we're lucky, it'll be a fruitful discussion, and we'll both learn something new.

Why We Protest

Last night, a dear friend of mine was asked why she was protesting. As she gave her heartfelt answer, the words that have driven me from Mosiah 18 flooded my mind.

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,"

But, there's more words after that, and they caught my attention again this morning as I studied.

"and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in"

I've usually read this as the preaching of the gospel, and so I wasn't paying as much attention to it. Except just a few chapters later, the Lord uses the same phrasing to say that we will be witnesses of the injustices of the world at the judgement bar.

And all the times the scriptures say "come and see", or "look", or "behold" came flooding into my mind.

Part of our mandate is to comfort, and mourn, and yes, preach, but also to see and learn and share. So we can witness to each other now and later the truth of all things.

So, come and see. If you feel uncertain, contact me, and I'll stand by your side. Our brothers and sisters need you.

Service is Key

I have spent the twenty three years I've been home from two years in Costa Rica wondering how so many people I knew could go to a foreign country and serve the people, then come home, have a good cry about how much you love the people of (insert country name here), and then reliably vote to hurt those that come to our country as immigrants and refugees.

Watching police and politicians and school administrators work to destroy the people their job is to serve, I'm coming to a hypothesis. And, I know that this is obvious to so many of you, but serving other people is hard. They are often recalcitrant and tired and distracted, just like us. And it is a simple transition to just. stop. caring. Think the people you're helping are dumb or dirty or selfish or weak . Thinking they are less worthy then yourself. It is an easy decision, you sacrificed much to come and serve, and you get hurt or rejected or ignored. Clearly they are at fault. Except,

That is wrong. Love is first and last.

I have some repenting to do. For example, I looked down on so many people for using phrases like "si Dios quiere", when asked if they would do something. My father, visiting me, saw a home that was mostly dirt, and realized that they were happy because they had sufficient. He drew strength and contentment from that.

Serving people is hard and full of heartbreak. If there is something I can say or do to lift you up and dust you off, please reach out. I will do my best to watch, but I'm as fragile and broken as the rest of you and will fail, and hopefully reach out.

We're in this together.