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To write or not to write, that is the question

As I said in my last post, I watched some of the LDS general conference this last weekend.  As I was doing so, I thought of many things that I want to write about--and I probably will.  But I want to take a minute to talk about why I write.  In fact, I want to take a minute to find out why I write.

I get worked up about something--perhaps something a Mormon leader says, or something that a politician says or whatever--and I want to tell everyone about it.  I want people to understand my position.  I want people to agree with my position.  I want to be right.  I want the truth to be known.  I want a lot of things.  But I need to stop for a minute and think about what effect my writing has on people who read it and whether that's what I really want to be doing.

There are so many ideas floating around out there and so many of them seem wise to me.  Some people, like Richard Dawkins, say that you should just say what is true regardless of whether it hurts people's feelings.  He's not ashamed to talk about how ridiculous religion is and how silly people are for believing in it.  There are people who say that it is best to be kind and to put the feelings of others above proving them wrong.  I think both ideas are right and good.  I think that it's important to stand up for what is true and I think it's important to consider others' feelings when interacting with them.

There're people like Penn Jillette and Ron Paul who are libertarians and say that the government should be limited to maximize the freedoms people enjoy and that charity is voluntary, so government programs for the poor can't be considered charitable since they're mandatory.  There are people like Obama and Bill Gates who say that we should have social programs to help people who are in need, that high taxes are justified because those who have much should give some of their excess to those who have little.  I agree with both of these ideas.  I think it's important to have restraints on the government and I think that many of the social programs we have do much good.

So, why do I post?  What is the purpose I wish to accomplish?  I don't know.  Perhaps my primary goal is that of equality.  I think that all people should be treated equal and should be granted equal protection under the law.  So, I want the words I say to have the effect of convincing people to vote for equality.  And, I do specifically mean marriage equality, but all other kinds of equality as well.  I think gay people should be treated equal by being allowed to marry.  I think transexuals should be treated equal by allowing them to live their life as the gender of their choice--that, for example a person born male who transitions to female should be treated as any other female in society.  I think it's hateful and hurtful when people make comments about transexuals being abominable or unnatural.  I think that women should be treated equally by being paid the same as a man with comparable qualifications, that they should not be treated as sex objects, and that their personal space should not be invaded by sexual harassment.

Another goal (which may also be my primary one, making equality secondary, I don't know) is to share truth.  I want everything I say to be correct.  Whenever I say something wrong, I want it to be corrected.  If what I say comes out wrong or is demonstrably false, then I'm doing it wrong.  I mean to be accurate in all of my words.  I want to represent reality as accurately as possible.  But more than that, I want people to believe the things that I say.  Even if the things that I say are true, if no one reads them because I present them poorly (perhaps I am too angry or too focused on one particular issue, perhaps I am too offensive or condescending) then I am missing my mark.  I want to be accurate but also to be accessible.  I want people to feel that I respect differing viewpoints even if I don't accept them.  And I don't want to present myself as an absolute authority on any issue, because I'm not and everyone knows it.

One thing that has been making me introspective in this way is a conversation I'm having with my sister.  If I am honest with myself and look at the consequences of my blog posts over the last two years, I can see that one of the main effects that it has had is polarization.  Those who believe in the LDS church have stopped reading my blog (aside from a small handful).  They have written me off as someone who is bitter toward the church--the stereotypical "apostate" who "can leave the church but can't leave the church alone".  In effect, all it has done is cement their view that they are correct--that their church is true and that what their church says about those who disagree with it is also true.  And those who agree with me stay here and appreciate what I write because it aligns with their own views.  I don't want this to happen.  This is not an effect that I want (yes, I do want like-minded people reading my blog, and even commenting and telling me they agree to be sure).

I want to convince Mormons that their church is false.  Not because I hate the church or because I'm bitter or anything else, but because I honestly believe that it is a false church.  I believe that it is a fraud. And I believe that it takes advantage of its members.  Clearly I'm not doing it right because (as far as I know) I haven't convinced anyone and I've driven off all of the people that I've wanted to convince.

So, before I finish writing all my posts about General Conference, I want to make sure that I'm doing what I mean to be doing.  Do I want to criticize the talks given in conference?  I believe that there were some false and harmful things said.  I think that the harm should be corrected as much as possible, and criticizing the harmful words is one way to go about that.  But, I also want people to critically analyze their own beliefs.  I want Mormons to take a step back from their beliefs and look at them one by one and critique them.  Decide whether they are valid, true, and good beliefs to have.  I don't want to offend all the Mormons who read my blog and chase them away, leaving only ex-Mormon choir members to preach to.

Something is awry in my approach.  I'm not having the effect I want to have.  So, I think that I need to change my line of attack.  I'm just not entirely sure how to go about it.  I've actually received some very useful feedback from the conversation with my sister.  I ask for any feedback any of my readers have.

My sister has suggested that I include things that are good about the LDS church along with any criticism I have.  I thought that I had been doing that, but I suppose I haven't been doing as well as I thought.  I want to be objective and I thought that I had been.

My brother suggested that I avoid using words like "bigot" when describing people who don't support marriage equality.  I'm torn there.  I can see the wisdom in avoiding words like that, because it is a polarizing word and drives off anyone with a differing viewpoint.  But at the same time, I think it is an accurate word to describe someone who thinks that they deserve to have privileges that they wish to deny to gay people.

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