Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cynicism and politics

A friend recently referred me to an essay from Lew Rockwell's website, then wrote, "Kind of bothers me that I've become cynical enough that I don't see what is talked about in this essay as such a bad thing. Because, we really have become the disunited states, sadly."

It is extremely easy to become cynical and defeatist when one sees the state of politics and society these days. But, I believe that cynicism and pessimism are a denial of the power and roles of the Comforter.

Here is what I wrote in return to my friend:

Common themes I hear from LDS leadership in general conferences and read in church magazines are:

• Be prepared. Being prepared means having basic resources on hand for rough times and being debt-free. It means having one's life in step with God's counsel. It means paying tithing and other offerings. It does not mean preparing to live in tent cities -- something that has never come from LDS leadership but which is a religious hobby among many.

• Be involved. I am consistently dismayed by the turnout at caucus meetings, political candidate meet-and-greets, city-council/school-board/county-commission meetings, etc. I am no longer shocked but the percentage of fellow Americans who can't name even one elected official other than the president of the US. Yet, they feel free to criticize government and to vote for the very people they can't name. Involvement also includes doing volunteer work. The Church does what it can to get us to do "volunteer" work through various callings. But, if one doesn't put his/her heart into a calling, I don't think it really counts as being involved. We also need to be involved in non-church volunteerism so we can touch the lives of people we don't see every Sunday.

• Be optimistic. I don't think Libertarians (such any pundit on Lew Rockwell's show and website, including the author of this article) are very good at being optimistic. Pessimism is contrary to what I see in church magazines and to what I hear in general conference. I never hear or read church leaders talk about what this author writes about. The Church has taken steps (including excommunication) to distance itself from pessimists who are predicting imminent apocalypse, societal collapse, and tent cities. Yes, there are prophecies about future calamities, but LDS leaders don't seem to be worried about them -- possibly because they are confident that prepared, involved, and optimistic people will do just fine and they will see that their neighbors do fine as well.

As Dennis Miller says, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

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