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May. 30th, 2012 at 10:32 pm
In the May 2012 issue of magazine Experience L!fe, there is an article called “Have It Your Way- Defying convention can be incredibly satisfying. But it can also invite a whole lot of trouble.”
Interesting. He had me at the title.
The article’s author, Bahram Akrandi, writes, “Anytime you choose to break trail…it takes a certain amount of energy and focus to maintain your momentum…When it comes to selecting your defining moments of difference, you have to know how to choose your battles. And I’d argue, that in general, your best change efforts will be focused on those areas where you see a real and serious need for improvement over the current reality.”
“This is true in the realms of business, government and community, as well as in our personal lives. Think about it: If a product, service or policy is just not good enough, it makes sense to innovate, to call for improvement. If a family dynamic is dysfunctional, it makes sense to move beyond that system, or advocate for change within it. But to actively mess with something that’s working reasonably well often backfires, and creates more trouble than its worth.”
The author then goes on to list three things to consider “…to anyone trying to decide whether “going rogue” is really worth all the trouble.”
The first consideration is your values.” Does the effort in question speak to your most basic principles and priorities?…If your goal isn’t rooted in your core values, explore what your driving motivations are, and where they are coming from. Undertaking a rebellion because you are bored, annoyed or trying to get back at someone for petty reasons is usually a bad idea. Look for another, more constructive way forward.”
The second consideration is your intentions. “Are you trying to make a significant difference in what you see as an important issue? Or do you just want to shake things up a bit, take the world by surprise, perhaps express your uniqueness somehow? …Consider whether you have the strength and determination to carry out your intended efforts alone, or whether you might need to build a coalition of support.”
The third consideration is unintended consequences. “When you elect to “go your own way,” the people and systems around you may benefit enormously, but they often wind up paying a price, too. Change is disruptive. Conflict is exhausting. So take a moment to think about beyond yourself and your own priorities to contemplate how your choices might affect your family, friends, coworkers or community – for better or worse. Consider what you might be putting at risk in the name of your quest, and whether you (and they) can live with both the best-and worst- case scenarios.”
This article got me thinking about so-called radicals I know within our church. When I was a teenager I lived in a ward that had a sister who was radically anti-porn. She organized the YW to have an activity of picketing a local porn shop. Only the girls, not the YM. It was horribly embarrassing to me, as a 14 year old girl still in shock at the changes my own body was making, to have to go stand in front of a sex shop holding protest signs, while considering the more horrifying indecencies possibly happening inside. That sister was married and had a boatload of kids. She had an office right off the kitchen that had a separate phone, copy machine, maps of all the porn shops in the state, and stacks of pornographic magazines so she could demonstrate the awfulness allowed under the first Amendment. I am convinced her zeal to rid the world of all sexual ugliness had to have affected her children. At the very least, her sex life with her own husband.
Rob and I have lived in a wards that enjoyed zealots who were convinced that only boys who achieved their Eagle rank in scouting would go to the Celestial Kingdom, others who were so obsessed with the tribulations before the Second Coming that they turned even the most innocent ward gathering into lectures on how to survive nuclear blasts and exhortations to stockpile toilet paper. And don’t forget the person convinced of the need to personally do the temple work of every human being who ever lived on the planet so no one would accost them in the next life, demanding to know why they have been stuck in the eternal waiting room because we were so selfish as to sit on the couch and watch stupid cable tv when we should have been saving souls.
The internet has been the blessing/curse that has spawned an explosion of knowledge about church history, increased discussions about the male -only priesthood, church policy on same-sex marriage, and every other minutia about church policy. It has also brought out the imbalances of life that can occur when one tiny part of the gospel becomes the number one priority of focus. I loved it when in the last General Conference President Uchdorft acknowledged that the topic of his talk came from a mother who wrote to him asking him to speak about forgiveness because she has children who aren’t speaking to each other. Can you imagine what would happen if every member of the church wrote church headquarters asking that their personal pet subject be addressed in the next General Conference? Who knows, maybe people already do to that. It worked for that sister.
You know my personal gripes: Wards that don’t let women give the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting and the church handbook policy against cremation at death. At times I have considered writing letters and starting blogs about my pet peeves because dang it, they are wrong and this nonsense needs to change. So far I haven’t done either. All I have done is rant online on Mormon blogs, in the hopes that would be enough because A. Women giving the opening prayer isn’t a core value for me. I can sleep at night knowing I will currently only be asked to prayerfully close Sacrament meeting, not open it. B. I do want to change this stupid unwritten policy, but C. I’m not willing to deal with the unintended consequences of being “that feminist woman who sees conspiracy wherever she looks.” I want to be admired for being “that smart, sassy chick who works subversively in ways that cannot be described and who wears pretty necklaces.”
Call me shallow and unmotivated. I prefer to think of myself as not wasting precious energy on things that, in the end, don’t really matter.