So, I've been trying to resolve a few questions and issues as of late. Things that don't mesh, things that do. Maybe its because of finals, and the topics I'm writing about for the final papers. Maybe its because the thoughts are ever present regardless of what I'm doing, I don't know. But one thing I've been trying to understand is the area of displacement that I find myself in. Someone who is a believer in God, someone who is LDS by faith, and someone who feels strongly about my faith. Yet, I am also a strong supporter of the pro-choice movement, a staunch advocate of scientific thought and reasoning. I believe that humans evolved from a common ancestor, over millions of years, and I don't disagree with the scientific method. I embrace it fully. I support homosexual rights, and the rights of all humanity. I support racial and cultural diversity, and don't believe that the US is a Christian Nation in the sense that we are compelled to believe in Jesus or we're not real Americans. I believe in keeping prayer out of school, god out of secular topics, and frankly, feel like religion and faith are things that belong within the sphere of the home environment, not as a public indoctrination. The long story short, when it comes down to it, there are things I agree with people on, and disagree with people on, but never everyone all the time If I am LDS, then why do I not fit in with the vast majority of LDS thought? If I am scientific, and believe in separation of church and state, why is it that I find arguments with certain atheists, even though I feel that they are free to believe or not believe, and wouldn't want them to change their opinion? Why am I always playing a battle of outsider looking in? My humor doesn't fly among certain groups, but its hilarious in others.
Maybe I should start with a few of the things that have gone on recently. On the side of my scientific side being questioned, one individual I was speaking to questioned how I could be a Mormon, because he saw the majority of the Book of Mormon to be "wacky" and "Full of made up stories." Even after explaining to him that it was not quite as he described, I still was bombarded with claims that my religion as "obviously made up." Now, If I had been saying the same to him, that his understanding was flawed, and that his denial of deity was "obviously made up" I could see some of the attacks happening. However, the majority of my discussion with him was merely answering his questions to the best of my ability. I even made it a point to say that I was not around to convert anyone, nor was I going to condemn anyone for believing differently. In fact, I don't believe in a God that condemns someone because they do or do not believe in Him, or punishes for believing in another form of deity. But still, I was placed in a situation where I was confronted. How could I; as a rational, thinking man, who believed in the scientific method, and studied archaeology, believed in evolution and the big bang and understood climate change; continue to be rational, and yet still have a belief in deity?
Others, on the opposing side, have claimed that I cannot believe in the Evolution of Man, and still believe in God. To them, I must believe in the literal story of Adam and Eve. I have been called apostate, I have been told that maybe I don't believe, or that my testimony is not strong because I don't stand up and say "I know this church is true." Sometimes, I am told I am wrong for feeling that the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Prophets are all riddled with the flaws of humanity. I've been told that I cannot be a Mormon and a Democrat before, which astounds the mind. I stick out like a sore thumb on BYU campus, partially because of my looks, and partially because of my statements. I read constantly from Facebook status updates that claim concern for those "godless Americans" who voted for Obama, and are apparently being deceived by the Devil. I am a strong supporter of Homosexual rights, and basically, I do not have a problem with marriage being extended to Same-sex couples. I would have a problem if it was enforced in such a way that churches would be forced to perform them, but if it was just an issue of "they can" then that's cool.
Anyway, this build up is for a reason, which I swear I am getting to. As I was examining this, I realized that a lot of this world is living in the false dichotomy. We are constantly being bombarded with more subtle stereotypes and categories that are being imposed upon us. If you are going to fit into one box, you must fit into them all. So not just "mormon" but "conservative." Or not just "Scientific and rational" but also "atheistic." Rather than accepting that a man is the whole, not just the sum of all parts, we have taken the whole man and forced him to accept a whole idea.
This can even be boiled down into how this past election went. 49% of the vote went one way, 51% went the other way. And that is how we see the world. Half of us are on the side of the right, while the other half is obviously wrong. Rather than understanding that within that half, there are other figures, other possible parts to this, we have taken these numbers and said that half of the country is like us, and the other half, not like us. And yet, I am certain that within both of these percentages, there were individuals who did not fit the mold that each narrative had to show.
To be all of one entity is to remove from one's self the rest of what makes us a whole individual. In fact, the statement "be ye therefore perfect" could actually be translated as "be whole." The whole and complete being, honoring none of his qualities over another, but accepting them all. I am a man with a past, I've been in bar fights, I've drank, I've slept around, I've behaved foolishly. I will not deny these things. But I have also been a man who has helped others, who has compassion for his fellow beings. And I cannot deny these things either. A whole man is what I should strive to be, not a man fitting into a box. Because I cannot be happy if I am in one shell, and not the whole. And I don't believe in a God that wants unhappiness.