Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Subtle Hypocrisy

We too often are to others what others are to us.

If we can’t control our own feelings or actions toward those with whom we disagree, we have no standing to condemn them for not being able to control their feelings or actions toward us. For example, if we as Mormons speak in universal and stereotypical ways about evangelicals or Jehovah's Witnesses or anti-Mormon activists, we can't complain if they speak in those same ways about us.

We also can’t put the burden of understanding and love on them; we need to pick up that burden ourselves and model it to the best of our ability.


Matsby said...

"We too often are to others what others are to us."

Very well said.

I always struggle with this on a personal level.

Geoff J said...

"evangelicals or Jehovah's Witnesses or anti-Mormon activists"

One of these groups is not like the others...

The more specific we get with groups the more it is safe to speak about the entire group. There are only a small number of people who can be accurately labeled "anti-Mormon activists" and as such it is not so hard to speak of things they all have in common. By contrast, the number of people who could be called evangelicals is enormous and far more varied. (I suppose JW's fall somewhere between these two in number)

Ryan said...


I'm not quite sure where you're trying to go with that comment, but it makes me nervous for two reasons:

First, I don't think it's ever a good idea to engage individuals according to the negative stereotypes we've built for the group they [seem to] come from. Smaller groups are less likely to surprise, but even an individual we know well can break the stereotype we've built for them. If they really are "that way" it will become obvious soon enough. Better to let them prove it rather than make the assumption.***

Second, even if I [think I] have profiled somebody with complete accuracy, that's not an excuse to do as they do if it's not right.

I think that's what PapaD was getting at.

*** This doesn't imply trust, though! Stereotypes (if accurate) help us limit exposure to betrayal/harm, but mistrust isn't an excuse to mistreat people.

Papa D said...

I understand what you are saying, Geoff - but it's very easy to say the same thing about us if you aren't "one of us". I don't want to be profiled or stereotyped too quickly, even if there are some things that **probably** fit me as an active Mormon. I guarantee there are just as many things that don't fit me that would be included in MANY stereotypes others have of Mormons - and that's one of my main points in this post.