Thursday, August 30, 2012

Proud to Be an American or Not So Proud to Be an American: Re-Start Up Edition

Once Upon a Time, I wrote a series that was titled:
Proud to Be an American and

Not So Proud to Be an American




Proud to Be an American


Each post explored something (in the early 2000s when the blog was active) in particular the country that seemed so amazingly wonderful, or amazingly groan worthy, that no matter what side of the political spectrum you fell on, there should be something in the post that makes you think a little about your life. 
 
That blog has disbanded, and since I was writing under a pseudonym, unless you read the blog back then, the history of what the particular stories were really doesn't matter.  The response from readers though was usually positive.  Usually I got a lot of, "Huh, I hadn't thought of that," as comments.  That does NOT mean that very many people agreed with me.  Often I would get comments on a post months later, when a situation I had previously addressed was in the news again.  Most of those comments came in the, "See you were SOOOOOOOOO wrong! This terrible thing happened and if we didn't have "thing that I talked about" in place, it would be lots worse."  Occasionally I would get a "How the heck did you know that was going to happen?  Do you go and tell someone to do it?"
 
While the responses were often funny to me, the reason why I felt I was doing something important was that people who passionately disagreed came back!  We were able to talk about the issues respectfully, because we understood where the other person was coming from, because we took the time to explain it in our comments.  Not just, "I am right and you are wrong," but an actual explanation of why someone thought they were right.  More often than not, the comments were as long or longer than the original posts. 

Think about that.  Someone read something on a blog, not more than 3K words (our internal editing decision) and it made enough of an impression, that they explained their opinion or belief, and WHY they had the opinions.  Then, THEY. CAME. BACK. to tell me I was wrong!  Someone was still thinking about the post, after all of the millions of interactions they had between reading that post, and coming back to comment on it.


Not So Proud to Be an American

You can look for more Not So Proud to be an American or Proud to be an American posts this year. Most of the posts will not be political or related to the election, but all of them will look at the good and bad of the Community that we call America!





When talking to my friend Rachel about how to discuss politics on blogs, and whether it is a good idea, part of her comment was:
"Politics really have a way of wrecking friendships if you aren't careful.  :)  I have a very good friend - very sweet, very out-going - but her politics drive me nuts and I don't think she realizes that.  (I avoid talking politics, she does not.)  Which is unfortunate, because I really like her."
 
I agree with her!  I think anytime you start bringing politics, especially party ideologies, into a conversation, it can poison the entire thing.  That is why I try to approach ideas or events, and not political parties or their platforms!

I have been exploring Keepapitchin.org  It is a wonderful place to dig a little here, and a little there.  There is a huge archive of religious writings and accounts, fiction, essays, poetry, magazine covers, graphic novels, Sunday School lessons and personal journals.  (I am sure that there are LOTS of other things I haven't found yet too!)  Keepapitchin's repository is almost all from LDS authors or publications.  The church publications and stories of different time periods show differences in the focus and terminology that was used.



Recently I came across a Sunday School Lesson from December 9, 1928 which was titled, The Social Teachings of Jesus as Applied Today.  I found great peace as I followed the path as laid out.  Starting with spiritual and scriptural references, and then giving an invitation to the class of saints to carefully consider what they are doing now, and how to do better.  The lesson lays out how any follower of Christ can apply the scriptures, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves living in. It gives the questions to ask, rather than supplying specific answers. (I really suggest you read the post over on Keepa, before you start asking or answering the questions!) 


1. (a) What are some of the striking differences between the civic ideals and practices of our own time and country and those of New Testament times in Palestine?   (b) What differences do these facts make in the manner of applying the moral teaching of the New Testament?
 
2. Describe some modern community practices that illustrate in a large way the moral principle taught in the parable of the good Samaritan.
 
3. In what particular ways do you now see the Golden rule applied?
 
4. (a) Why are the rich criticised severely by Jesus and by his Apostles, especially by James in his epistle?    (b) May this criticism be applied to many of the rich of today?    (c) To what conditions must a rich man conform in order to justify his possession of riches?    (d) How are these conditions related to the principles set forth in the basal readings?    (e) Is poverty in itself a guarantee of Christ-like character? If not, why not?
 
5. Enumerate some ways by which all the members of a modern community may share in the use of the natural resources of the earth and the goods of civilization.  (Notice the use of may, rather than should.  This is a brainstorming session, not an invitation to debate.)
 
I do not think that a person needs to be Christian, or religious at all, to have the questions that are asked, make an impact on the way you think about yourself and others.
 
 I think most people who are not religious are humanist enough to feel that there are some things that any society needs to provide for poor, destitute and sick children, men and women. So, the non-Christian version of the questions might be tweaked slightly to become:

  • What is different between now and days past? 
  • What are we doing to deal with those problems? 
  • Is it working? 
  • What else can we do? (Notice the use of can, rather than should.)



You are welcome to leave comments on your thoughts about the post and the issues raised here.  Here are a few things that might help you start thinking.
  (You do NOT have to answer them in your comment, but you should be sharing thoughts and ideas about THIS post and/or the Keepa post.)
  
 



  • What do you think we can do to support everyone in our communities? 
  • When you think of communities, are you only thinking of a small geographic area? 
  • Where is the line between community, and everything else? 
  • Given your distinction of community, how do you see your community interacting with the rest of the world? 
  • How much is your idea of community influenced by your experiences with religion or politics?

What I do not want:
"Should we?" arguments,
pretending to be comments.

 


There are lots of blogs where partisan debates are welcome and encouraged.  There are even more places where people on all ends of the political spectrum can find other people who like their opinions and will pat you on the back for thinking just like everyone else on the site.  If you are not answering the questions in this post, and are instead spouting political agendas, they will not stay up.  I currently moderate after the fact, but if I have to, I will moderate comments before they go up.  Hopefully it won't come to that.  (If you aren't sure what this means, you can go to the comments section on the Keepa post, to see examples on the kind of comments that are not welcome.)

4 comments:

  1. It's tough to try and see both sides of the story. And when you don't try, feelings end up getting hurt. :(

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  2. Empathy is always a lot of work! Thank goodness the benefits are worth all the work!

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  3. I received this comment by email earlier oday. The writer gave me permission to post it without using her name or info identifying her.

    Julia, you were my visiting teacher about six years ago. I don't know if you even remember my me. You wrote me every month, but I never wrote you back or called you or even though you sent me envelopes that had your address on it and a stamp. I knew I could write you but i didnt know what to say so I never did.

    I started back to church two years ago. I live in (name withheld) and my home teacher went to school with you. He saw some of your comments on a big blog, and i guess he found you or found your blog. I haven't ever been to a blog before.

    When he was helping me get a light bulb replaced outside, we were yakking about home teaching and whether I am going to be a visiting teache because I don't know if I would be good enough at it since I have never been one before and I only ever had one visiting teacher, which is you. I think you are a good visiting teacher because you kept sending things even though I never said thank you. I told him about you, but he didn't know it was you, because I didn't remember your name and your last name is different now anyway.

    I told him how you sent me cards and the magnet with my name on it for my birthday and the envelopes soo I could write you back and the gift certificate for ice cream and that you kept sending them even when I never said thank you.

    When he saw you blog post he thought about me telling him about when you were my visiting teacher. So he and (wife of home teacher) came and let me use their laptop and showed me the blog letter.

    When I read about someone else getting cards, I wondered if I was special or not. Then (home teacher) said that I was very special because Heavenly Father only has four or five people that get to have you as their visiting teacher at one time. There were lots of other people who needed friend's too. I didn't get just one card. I got 7, and I still have all of them in my special box and I read them whenever I am sad. The magnet you made me is also on my fridge and it usually has my doctors numbers which are important.

    I don't know how to send emails on blogs and I don't want anyone to know my name thag doesn't already know it. (Home teacher) said I could use his email since i don't have a computer or email. He is going to bring his laptop everytime he comes so I can read the things you say so I can still hear them. I am glad other people get cards and that you listen for prompts and send good things. I am reading hard and taking the temple class. I still have the temple card with the Portland temple. I have it in the corner of my mirror and I read what you wrote when I don't think I am good enough.

    Thank you for being a good visiting teacher. I am still nervous, but (home teacher) says I don't have to write. I can just visit people and then they don't have to read my bad handwriting. I wish I had sent you something back with the stamped envelopes, but you don't lived there anymore. I will say thank you this way. Thank you!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just realized I put this comment with the wrong posts. Oops.

    ReplyDelete

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