OPINION – The fear and anger that are driving so much of our societal discourse today are taking their toll.
I realized this when I saw my friend Stephen Palmer’s statement over the weekend that he was choosing to withdraw from the political maelstrom.
Palmer wasn’t waving a white flag of surrender. He was making a conscious decision to step away from the madness because he realized that all the purse-swinging is accomplishing nothing.
I think he has a point worth considering.
For all the fighting that is taking place, virtually no one is being enlightened or swayed in their thinking. This means that all that effort and energy is likely being wasted.
As Palmer puts it:
And so I’m bowing out of the political debate not because I give up, but because I’m tired of fighting against the wrong people and I’m tired of fighting in general.
We all just want the same things, and we argue because we all care.
Ideological disagreements make it too easy to reduce those with whom we disagree to mere caricatures. We allow ourselves to see them as the embodiment of evil or stupidity.
Sometimes we ascribe superhuman or subhuman characteristics to our opponents to demonize them.
In reality, the vast majority of people have a lot more in common with us than we would like to admit.
The tiny minority of radicalized power seekers and those who seek dominion over their fellow men are extremely adept at creating conflict and division where there was none before. When we’re consumed with attacking each other, we fail to see who is really benefiting from the strife.
Instead of volunteering to play along with their contrived blame game, what if we were to put our best efforts into something that bore good fruit?
There’s no shortage of genuine problems and challenges around us. However, once we start seeing others as something more than another foe to be crushed, an undeniable truth comes into view: The people making the biggest difference in the world today aren’t the ones trying to rule it.
A perfect example of what this looks like can be found in the tireless efforts of the Southwest Recovery Mission Ministries based out of Mesquite, Nevada.
This is an outreach ministry that serves needy families in Colorado City as well as in Southern Utah and Southern Nevada. They rely entirely upon personal donations to help meet the needs of individuals and families within our region.
If you’re not familiar with their work, it’s because they are far more committed to providing assistance, comfort and friendship to the needy than they are to tooting their own horns. They carefully guard the anonymity and dignity of those whom they serve.
Most of us have some knowledge of the difficulties faced by those who have either left or been forced from the community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Families have been broken up or have faced punitive hardships imposed by their former leadership.
For instance, a household that would normally have an average electric bill of $150 per month may find themselves facing a monthly electric bill of a thousand dollars or more. How many of us would be able to shrug off that kind of inflated expense?
This is where many people might discover that their ability to see others as something other than an opponent is being put to the test. The temptation to simply dismiss these needy families as polygamists is overwhelming to an awful lot of folks who think themselves respectable.
Thankfully, Southwest Recovery Mission Ministries isn’t handicapped with such excessive pride. They serve these families with the same degree of love and respect that they feel for any of God’s children.
When I’ve spoken with members of this ministry, it’s clear they find a great sense of purpose and fulfillment in helping to ease the burdens of those around them. Their joy is undeniable.
Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of their many personal donors, a measurable difference is being made in the lives of hundreds of people. Best of all, it’s being done – as true charity should be – on a purely voluntary basis.
If you find yourself becoming disillusioned with the growing sense of rancor that is beginning to dominate our social discourse, consider stepping out of the melee for a bit.
Who do you know that could benefit from your help, either personally or through a donation of funds or goods? If you can’t think of someone, consider making a donation to the folks at Southwest Recovery Mission Ministries.
They’ve shown themselves to be outstanding and compassionate stewards of the resources that flow through their hands.
Most of us have a sense that we should be doing something. Try doing something that doesn’t require fighting with others over who your next ruler will be.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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