Christlike Political Disagreement
by Jason Manning
[source unknown]

As a person who follows politics for a living, I've watched as the country has become more divided over political issues, especially those that have been labeled battlegrounds in a "cultural war." The level of bitterness and acrimony expressed by people is frightening. Too many of us engage in "cultural warfare" without remembering that we have been commanded not to fight each other personally. We sometimes forget that contention only springs from one source.

Many "secular" people often see us "religious" people as a modern band of Zoramites -- closed-off, self-righteous, and content in the knowledge of our own superiority. We sometimes promulgate this inaccurate perception by doing the opposite of what President Hinckley recently suggested. We stamp our feet while shrilly and personally condemning those who disagree with us. Or to use Elder Maxwell's phrasing we are very good at "cursing the darkness" and not so good at "lighting candles."

Too often we assign a lesser value to the souls of those whose stances or behavior don't meet our standards, walling them off from our lives and our beliefs. Imagine for a moment what our behavior looks like from the other side. At times we probably seem vicious or even a bit crazy for attempting to hold people accountable to standards they may not have heard of, don't believe in, and don't understand.

Those who don't agree with us have often taken a sincere and searching route to their conclusions. But we sometimes dismiss their efforts and their experience because, for whatever reason, they haven't arrived at the same location as us. In this process we fail to consider why and how they got there.

Where did they begin their journey? Were they issued a map? Were they taught to read the map? Did they have compass? What if their journey was entirely different from ours? What if they were required to start from a different place and with a different map?

One can have horribly bad political ideas and be a good person and one can express adherence to the best principles and be a skunk. Not being able to condemn those with whom we disagree as purely rotten makes our lives more difficult, but the Prophet Joseph said he would never condemn a man merely for his beliefs.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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