January 8, 2010

Revolving Intolerance

I think it's interesting to look back over the history of humankind in terms of hatred and intolerance, especially over things such as race and religion. There seems to be a recurring pattern in human beings where we oppress others who are different from us. What I find most interesting is how many of the groups who are victims of the oppression eventually end up becoming the oppressors, and very often for the same reasons.

For example, the historian Tacitus reported that Romans were intensely cruel to early Christians. Many were crucified, fed to wild animals, and killed in other horrible ways for the simple fact that they were Christians. Yet Christians killed people in similarly horrible ways, believing they were witches.

The Hebrews believe they were enslaved by Egypt for centuries, yet many Jews were involved in trading slaves (source).

I bet if one were to look at any race or religion in history, one could find a time when that race or religion was hated and oppressed by some other group. What's more, I bet one could find a time when that same group became the oppressor to another group different than they.

Similarly, the early LDS suffered great hardships as a consequence of following their beliefs. They were forced to leave county after county, were robbed, tarred and feathered, and even killed for no reason other than being LDS. Those who stuck to their convictions regardless of the consequences are admired and revered in LDS culture. And yet, if a person sticks to his convictions, and they are somehow in conflict with the LDS faith, he is quickly attacked, hated, shunned, and often oppressed.

Why is it that people are so bad at remembering when they were on the receiving end? They gasp in horror at the stories of Joseph Smith, Jr. being chastized for reporting visions, and the early LDS being driven out of their homes. Yet these same people harshly attacked and some ostracized me when I announced that I was following my conscience. We all want to be allowed to follow conscience: to walk to the beat of the drummer we hear.

LDS know the horrors of being oppressed for belonging to something they felt they could not deny, yet the LDS sure were intolerant of anyone with Black skin, even when they shared the exact same religious beliefs! Once again, the oppressed became the oppressors.

Even more recently, the Church retains a disdain for homosexuality (here is one example, here is a response). I was told by a stake president a few months ago that he was "born a believer." I don't think he could stop believing in the LDS church if he tried. Yet he expects a person who is born with same-sex attraction to give up what is at his or her core. He would be furious if I told him he had a flaw that needed to be fixed. Yet he expects that individuals who feel they were born homosexual must deny it, or be fixed.

Why does this double standard persist throughout history? Our own predecessors knew exactly how wrong and horrible it was to oppress others for reasons such as skin color and religious beliefs - because they were on the receiving end! Why then do we, who have finally been accepted for who we are and what we believe, still not accept others for who they are and what they believe?


Anonymous said...

I think what complicates matters is a belief in God. People justify their mis-treatment of others as a means of carrying out God's will. However, when others mistreat them in a similar way, it's easy to say that it's Satan trying to hinder the work of God. Obviously people can justify any behavior in the name of God; look at 9/11. It's pretty scary actually.

Milamber said...

I have wondered the same thing.
Why is it so? The only answer that I have come up with is that it is simply human nature.
Why is it human nature? Now, there is something of a mystery.
One thing that I believe is that through our intellect, human tendencies can be overcome and the nature of humans can change, but it will take the erridication of fairytale belief systems that justify being cruel to and persecuting others.

Nick said...

" I was told by a stake president a few months ago that he was "born a believer." I don't think he could stop believing in the LDS church if he tried."

Well if he is born in the covenant then of course he was born a believer because his parents gave him his belief.

Its exactly the same with many of those Born as JW's. They too think they are Born into the 'only one true church.'

How lucky can you be??!!

Warren Jeffs was born a believer too,(even better he was already chosen for his role Like Joseph Smith was in the pre earth life) BUT would the Stake Pres let his wife and kids associate with him or his kind?

I think if the Stake President tried hard enough then he could soon stop beleiving. But for some reason he is has some kind of flaw in his thought process IMO like people who are suckered all their lives by endless horroscopes and mystic mediums. They too struggle to disbelieve and end up passing on alot of time and wealth they ever had listening to these Charlatans in return for just things they want to hear and be told and never changing anything for the better by their own efforts but continually seeking for someone else to magically do it for them or at least tell them its going to get better!

I believe that Patriarchal Blessings are no different except written with a get out clause( conditional on obedience etc.

" Yet he expects a person who is born with same-sex attraction to give up what is at his or her core. He would be furious if I told him he had a flaw that needed to fixed."

I've read a little of Spencer Kimballs teachings on a cause of Homosexuality and it has to be the Most Dumbest, Stupidest thing I ever heard!

I won't repeat it here from potential enbarrassment to anyone, but anyone who has done a bit of LDS research will know what I mean. lol

Who needs comedians when LDS Prophets and Apostles do a great Job already. hahaha

Richard Packham said...

Strictly speaking, nobody is born a believer in anything. Belief must be instilled later.

We are all born atheists, i.e. having no belief in God or anything else supernatural.

Minor correction, Eli:

Tacitus is hardly guilty of the cruelty to Christians you mention. I think you mean Tiberius.

Eli said...

Response to Richard Packham: Ah - thanks for the heads-up. Tacitus was the historian. My bad.