Thursday, March 12, 2009

Owning our own opinions

**note - I was thinking the other day that I wanted to cross-post some of the things I've posted before on various message boards. So here we are. I may post more - we'll just see how it plays out.

I was reading something another former mormon wrote - where someone had harshly criticized her. Yet instead of criticizing her outright, they said "other people are saying x about you".

And I was realizing that in my family (and many members in the mormon church and elsewhere), some people will rarely say what THEY think (when it gets down to it). They almost always say "well, so and so thinks you should do this".

They can't come out and own their opinions, they have to hide behind other people. So you (the original person) will get mad at the other person, not at them. They are also denying their own authority - or ability to have an opinion on a topic. Women, in particular, find it hard to acknowledge their innate authority. It can be seen as aggressive - at least it's been seen as aggressive for years in American culture. And women from a certain generation might have been forced to de-value their observations - manipulating and controlling to retain any power at all.

It's incredibly difficult to re-write this script. To start thinking - I don't care if my friend says the bishop thinks x. If the bishop thinks that, he needs to tell me himself. Or if you (my friend) think(s) that, we need to talk about it. But it's really between me and the bishop - or me and you?

Or shouldn't it be?

It's difficult for people to come out and say something negative - or say something they know the other person will disagree with. Or to actually admit to feelings "I 'm scared that if you do x, you'll get hurt". Or even acknowledging that another person's choices are none of their business at all.

I'm not saying that friends always agree. I'm not saying that well-timed constructive criticism isn't very important. I treasure some of my good friends in my life who will call me on my stuff - in a kind and healthy manner (you know who you are!!).

I know the LDS church isn't the only organization that does this. I've had many friendships like this over the years. And lots of companies are this way (where things aren't spelled out and must be inferred and assumed).

I believe it's just one more way to control a person (and sometimes to shame them) - to not allow them to determine which people are truly acting in their best interest. Where no one plays by the rules - or any rules that can be successfully determined.

These means of functioning get in the way of healthy relationships and friendships within that church (and elsewhere).

It creates a tattle-tale culture. Growing up mormon, I remember countless lessons denouncing gossip. But if the LDS church (and other organizations) started interacting on a one on one basis - removing all of this "he or she said you should do..." stuff - it would be a completely different place.

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