ON Kilter: How stubborn our propensities, what pain they bring

OPINION – There is an old adage: People will listen to good advice but they will obey pain.

Anyone who has a teenager can likely attest with a bit of frustrated humor the validity of this but in matters of more serious consequence it is worth asking why it is generally so.

Nothing could be more true than for the state of Utah in its ardent opposition to gay marriage. In Highland, a former law enforcement officer is rallying for an uprising that in essence challenges: If the legislators won’t overthrow the court’s decision, then it is up to law enforcement and vigilant people to do it.

Nothing like a little bit of treason to demonstrate your patriotism. Perhaps they should talk to a few people in Montgomery, Alabama, who had to have the National Guard come and tell them to obey the law, or else.

Why is it that in the face of overwhelming evidence that something is harmful to us or tacitly wrong, we cling to our predispositions even to our own peril – physical, economic, ethical, otherwise?

One reason may be that we have an inherent desire to believe the best about people especially if they are our friends or professional colleagues.

Inversely, it is our propensity to believe the worst about someone who does not fall within our circle of good graces.

But do either of these inclinations pass muster when it comes to finding out truth about someone or the systems they operate in?

Everyone can understand that people intuit an overall sense of goodness or badness in people they encounter. We get a sense that someone is “a good person.” Sometimes we have a gut adverse reaction to someone, warning us: Be careful, that is “a bad person.”

But such obtuse characterizations should make us nervous. They leave too much to interpretation that could be right, or could very well be wrong. We need to call our knee-jerk responses into check.

Let me put some skin on this:

At the core of the debate over marriage there is an underlying overtone of condemnation for a group of people who do not confine it to the definition set forth by a church. This is a debate for the ages it appears but, and here is the crux, if a church is free to worship how it wants within the confines of the law, so is everyone else. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. And when a court comes along with a ruling consistent with constitutional law and civil liberty, the people who defy it do so somewhat at their own peril. Because it is the very freedom they enjoy which they seek to erode. Furthermore, what happened to love the sinner, hate the sin?

As Sam Harris said: “It does not occur to them they are conditioned to a response or brainwashed. They would fight their would-be liberators to the death. They are held prisoner twice over by tyranny and by their own ignorance.”

This of course is a current and relevant example intended to paint a picture of something quite real and quite close to home.

Here at home, in the U.S. and right here in St. George, there are instances where power and position are equated with things like God, wealth, or affiliation – things that, under even the slightest bit of scrutiny, fail any version of a legal litmus test in our country. Yet, calm as Hindu cows, we stand by and watch almost without being phased.

The code enforcement division of St. George and the administrative court itself appears to be operating from a position of self-appointed authority whereby Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights are discarded in favor of “good intentions.”

So long as it does not negatively impact us directly, we live content to remain uninvolved. Apathetic even.

But here’s the thing, when another person’s rights are infringed upon, so are yours. It may take time to see the effect of it but it happens in real time right before your eyes. Because, by remaining silent, by presenting defense in spite of wrongdoing just because the offender is our friend, we in essence give permission to have wrongs done to us.

And as time passes, the system that allows this to happen becomes more autonomous and more powerful. But make no mistake, the system is not our friend. It does not have our best interest at heart.

In the movie, “The Matrix,” Morpheus says:

“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Look around you. Do you see anything nationally or locally that resembles this fictional portrayal of the world and its machinations? (Think First, Second, Fourth, and 14th Amendments.)

And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

Good advice would likely be not to allow it. Pain would be realizing that we had allowed it and, although it is said it is never too late, the hour is late and the dilemma is ever present.

The battle that is waging over gay marriage will define Utah for years to come. One way or another.

See you out there.

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • McMurphy January 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Treason ?? Really ?? After your former law enforcement officer visits those in Montgomery who would stand in a school house door he should also visit Birmingham and speak with those who walked with King.

  • JamesB January 5, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Good food for thought.

  • JamesB January 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Dallas. In light of what the former LEO in Highland is doing, how do you feel about the Obama administration picking and choosing which laws to enforce?

  • Betty January 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    While I agree love the sinner, hate the sin, I am totally oppose to the overturning of what the majority of the good folks of Utah desired. And that is sad. Something that was voted on by the majority of the people of Utah is now thrown to the wayside. Why vote? This is the perfect example why voting may be a waste of time. Oh, I do not belong to any organized “church” or religion, but I do take the Bible seriously.

    • Craig January 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      @Betty…If you take the Bible seriously, do you believe all that is written in it? Keep in mind, the Bible has been changed, rearranged,translated, re-translated,interpreted and reinterpreted since the first letter was scribbled on a rock. Many books that were once contained within it’s covers were trashed and tossed by the wayside. It is not all peace, love and roses. It is filled with violence and yes, lots of hatred. It condones and tries to justify murder. Is this the Bible you speak of?
      The phrase “love the sinner,hate the sin” is lame. What makes a same sex couple “sinners?”
      Is it because you and people who believe as you do do not agree with two people finding love and happiness? How, pray tell does the relationship of a same sex couple affect you? It doesn’t. The next time you tell yourself that you “love the sinner” but hate the “sin”, look in the mirror first.

      • bUB January 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

        Craig may have very well just earned himself a warm place in hell for blaspheming the holy book.

        • Craig January 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm

          I didn’t blasphemy the book. It’s all in there. Saul, Herod…big time haters and killers. furthermore, there is no hell.
          @Sweet Jude….have you ever thought Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because Lot was so willing to give up his daughters to the rapists at his door? Maybe you’re the one being “led so far away from the truth .” In any event, it’s not your place to decide what is “truth” in someone else’s life.
          RE: Dallas Hyland..It doesn’t matter if you like him or not…it doesn’t matter if you like his writing…if he gets people thinking, he has done his job. Agree or don’t agree…no one cares.

      • Sweet Jude January 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

        Craig, have you ever found the words unnatural affection written in the Bible? How about lovers of their own flesh? Oh yes, and better yet, why don’t you dust off your Bible and pick it up. Maybe you might find some clues. Whether or not you choose to live in denial does not change what’s contained in the Bible. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed partially because of the homosexual behavior taking place. Do you really think that the vast majority of the people here will give in to such slackness?

        Mr. Hyland is one of the very few here that can make himself appear right as classy as his rhetoric is for a small moment appearing to be a glorious personage himself, yet the truth is he is as misled and wrong on all the issues he rants about as you could possibly be. I don’t understand how some people allow themselves to be led so far away from the truth without being disgusted with themselves. That is, if they even have a conscience.

    • Ron January 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm


      A “majority” cannot vote to restrict the rights of a minority. Otherwise, we would still have segregation and laws forbidding people of different races to marry. The Constitution doesn’t grant the majority a stranglehold; it safeguards the rights of minorities.

      • Roy J January 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm

        Actually a minority can: consider the obvious minority of our elected officialdom.

        • Roy J January 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

          Oh sorry! I thought you said it in reverse. Hem. Scratch that.

  • mark boggs January 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Yeah, when you’re willing to join the ranks of George Wallace and Ross Barnett, you pretty much deserve every bit of derision heaved your way.

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