Wednesday, May 8, 2013

8. No one can speak for me better than myself

I'm going to start this one out on a religious note. don't worry, we'll get to the secular stuff later.
As a Mormon... we have the Articles of Faith.  and #11 is "We claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience.  And allow all mankind the same privilege to worship how, where, and what they may."
In the last month or so, this particular article has really struck home.  I try to live it as best i can.  I'm aware of my religious beliefs and i'm also aware that Mormons, or even Christians don't have the corner on the market for good people.  I have a lot of friends.  The majority of which are not Mormon, and many of them aren't religious at all.  Worship or don't worship, so long as you're not trying to kill me or throw me in prison, i'm good with whatever you decide to do with your life.  I am, afterall, not my brother's keeper. We have freedom to choose all of us.  I can respect your beliefs, especially if you respect mine.  i can even respect your beliefs even if you don't respect mine. because i truly believe that we all have agency both moral and physical.
Now... sometimes i think Mormons forget that this applies to each other.  I claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience.  MY OWN. not yours, not any one else's. mine. and i think a lot of mormons, especially in happy valley utah, don't really get this.  There have been people i've met at BYU who 'caught' me studying on a sunday, or 'caught me' slipping out a curse word when i've stubbed my toe really hard after a long day, or 'caught me' with a can of diet coke (caffeinated) on campus.  And after having 'caught' me either lectured me on why i'm a bad mormon, why i'm sinning, or declared that i'm a bad influence and never spoke to me again.
i kid you not.
BYU just really irks me, to be honest.  i'm fine with the dress code and the honor code with few exceptions. things like facial hair... my brother (and several other of my friends) were sealed in the Temple sporting a beard.  so if you can go to the Temple with facial hair... what makes it so bad? My friend's dad was offered a stake calling, but they'd only give it to him if he shaved his mustache... because it was a 'poor example to the young men' ... seriously??
what ever happened to good ol' article of faith #11? Do we not allow all mankind, INCLUDING OUR FELLOW MORMONS, the privilege of worshiping how, where and what they may?
i include this under "no one can speak for me better than myself" because i've noticed something a bit disturbing trending the social networks, especially with my younger friends.
Some 'more experienced' people post articles bringing up a topic.  said younger friends post things that are basically pleading for advice.  which usually i wouldn't mind. we all need counsel sometimes. why not seek it out? but it's the way they ask.  they are not asking because they are gathering information.  they are saying "I'm confused about this.  someone tell me what to believe." and then, once the loudest person gets a grip on them, they're done thinking about it.
Especially again as a mormon, this is deeply disturbing to me.  We're taught about the Gospel when we're young and then we're told, commanded, encouraged to pray for ourselves and to find out for ourselves what is true and what isn't.  and i believe some things are eternally true, but also that truth is different for every person.  I can say that i believe with my whole self that God is the Eternal Father and that He sent Christ to die for us... but i'm not running off to take the veil and become a nun.  the truth for some people may lead them to a life of a nun or a nanny or a teacher or a doctor or a physicist or a parent.  that doesn't make the truth less true, only that it affects us in different ways because we are all inherently different.
no one can speak for me better than myself. and so i need to stand up and speak! and say no, i don't believe caffeine is evil.  No, i don't believe in being a housewife and only a housewife.  No i'm not ready to have kids and it's none of your @)(#*$ business anyway.  and to own it.
that's the hard part.
owning it.
but i'm getting stronger. and i'm letting my voice be heard.  i'm saying you know what? this is what i believe.  and i've found my own truth. and i can ask for respect, and from most of my friends i'll probably get it, but not from everyone. and surely not from everyone on the planet. but you know what? that's okay. because i am who i am and i'm not a bad person and i'm standing up for myself instead of shoving and slinking off to a corner. that's all.
so follow the dictates of your own conscience.  and seek out what it is you believe.  you. not what anyone tells you to believe.  don't let other 'better' people speak for you.  who is better than you for your own situation?