Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mercy and the Manipulative, Merciless Media

February 19, 2009

"How great a thing is mercy. Most often it is quiet and unassuming. It receives few headlines. It is the antithesis of vengeance and hatred, of greed and offensive egotism...

"If cultivated among all men, it would put an end to the atrocities of war...

"Our generation is afflicted with critics in the media who think they do a great
and clever thing in mercilessly attacking men and women in public office and in other positions of leadership. They are prone to take a line or a paragraph out of context and pursue their prey like a swarm of killer bees. They lash out with invective and snide innuendo against those who have no effective way of fighting back or who, in the spirit of the teachings of the Master, prefer to turn the other cheek and go forward with their lives." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Blessed Are the Merciful,” Ensign, May 1990, 68)

I have given a couple talks in sacrament meeting at church in the past year - one on love, and one on tolerance. Both times I came across this majestic talk by President Hinckley. I may have referred to it previously. However, it illustrates exactly my journey over the past several years. Maybe I've been deceived and indoctrinated unknowingly with evil liberal invective, and I am hopelessly wandering in the wilderness of relativity.

That's one way to look at it.
I tend to see it as I am trying to implement the virtues of mercy and tolerance into my daily actions. I think it's a worthy pursuit. I would rather be merciful than vengeful, hateful, egotistical, and greedy.

I take President Hinckley at his word: mercy has the potential to end war completely.

Mercy is not weakness, and war is not a way to demonstrate strength. War is a demonstration of the barbarity and primitiveness to which mankind is often willing to sink.

But I am not writing to talk about war. I am writing to reiterate, with the help of President Hinckley, one of the largest problems we have in society today. Read it again. Our generation is afflicted with critics in the media. These people divide, enrage, and manipulate so many. They mock those with whom they disagree. They attack differences, and spit on virtues like mercy.

I don't need to name names for you to know of whom I speak. They frame the debate on everything from abortion, to stimulus spending, to war. They deceive many, and they enrich themselves through encouraging contention and dissension among society as a whole. I know politicians are just as guilty, but with the level of trust the average person has for politicians being extremely low, I don't think said figures have nearly as as much influence on the general populace as media personalities.

I declared "war" on them by decided I would not let them manipulate me. I will not listen to them. I will not read their blogs or columns in the newspaper, online, or anywhere else. Whether on the right or on the left, they do not deserve one second of my attention, whether it is for simple entertainment, or for any other reason.

I wish more people would do the same. I wish the absolutist mentality that rules so many, on the right and left, would be extinguished. I wish we would stop characterizing people with whom we disagree as stupid, lazy, less intelligent, dishonest, or whatever other condescending adjective we can spew. I wish we could reason with each other without getting angry and that we could put ourselves in one another's place.

Sounds idealistic, I know. Yes, I'm a dreamer, and fantasize a lot about a better world. A world where people don't get put in concentration camps or camps for refugees. A world where people don't get imprisoned in secret locations without cause. A world where people aren't persecuted for their beliefs, however different they may be. Maybe it's not realistic. But not listening to the manipulators in the media is a great first step. Yes, we need to be informed, but we need a lot less of the type of information that is often portrayed on the radio, and especially on television.

In my mind, this is what motivates my line of thinking. It is what colors my opinion on the current debate about stimulating the economy. I know very little about economics. I don't have time to read the 1000+ page stimulus bill. I only know people are losing their jobs. People are losing their retirement. People are losing their health care. People don't have enough money to pay the mortgage. These people often times have families. They have children probably not so different from my own. It breaks my heart to even imagine my children going hungry. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else.

There are probably a multitude of flaws in the bill that I have no idea about. But I believe it is going to help a lot of people, as well. And there are a lot of people who need help. Not because they are lazy. Because they are in the midst of tough times, and they are scared, and don't know when things are going to get better, or when they will find a job that will cover their needs.

You can call it socialism. I call it mercy. And President Hinckley said it: the voices I speak of in the media are merciless.

A few more lines from the Prophet:

~Mercy is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The degree to which each of us is able to extend it becomes an expression of the reality of our discipleship under Him who is our Lord and Master.

I remind you that it was He who said, “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt. 5:39.)

It was He who said, “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” (Matt. 5:40.)

It was He who said, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matt. 5:41.)

It was He who said, “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:42.)~

In other words, the Master Teacher didn't tell us to say, "Go get a job, you lazy bum, and stop begging for me to be nice to you." He didn't say it was my job to judge whether someone was working hard enough, or doing all that they could, to deserve my mercy, or my help.

~It was He who said to the woman taken in sin:

“Where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? …

“Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:10–11.)

It was He who, while hanging on the cross in dreadful agony, cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)

He, the Son of the everlasting Father, was the epitome of mercy. His ministry was one of compassion toward the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the victims of injustice and man’s inhumanity to man. His sacrifice on the cross was an unparalleled act of mercy in behalf of all humanity.~

For those of you who consider yourself religious, which sin is greater, the sin of murder, the sin of adultery, or the sin of getting help from the government? Christ forgave the act of murder and adultery. He is the final Judge. Maybe certain people are lazy. Maybe they don't work hard enough. I'll let God judge. I will try to have mercy.

The folks in the media make me want to do just the opposite. I say it's time to listen more to Christ and stop listening to the agitators who preach against His teachings. It might make more of a difference than you think.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Truth From the Gut

February 18, 2009


I have not watched Stephen Colbert in quite awhile. But I needed a reason to not do something productive, and I found this clip from a week ago. I know I wasn't going to post irreverently inappropriate clips on here anymore, but rules are made to be broken.

I love this video on several levels, but mostly because of how much Stephen loves Glenn Beck. Be sure to listen to the quote at the very end. I won't repeat it here, but I hope it sticks with you for years to come.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Joaquin: Faking It?

February 16, 2009

I don't know what in the world happened here, but each time I watch this clip, I laugh even harder. I don't know if Joaquin was faking it or not, but if he's not, then that's one of the classic late night interviews in history. Dave is hilarious. Just watch and laugh.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Was It Really Worth It, Kirby?

February 12, 2009

Last night I was sitting quietly in my basement, enjoying a peaceful evening with my two adorable children when I heard footsteps rushing up the stairs and a knock at the front door. Two people whom I had never seen before practically broke down my door and with all the determination of a great white shark consuming a newly-discovered, bloody corpse, they tried to sell me one of the most amazing inventions ever known to the human race - a Kirby vacuum.

Ninety minutes later, they had me convinced. Sure, the Kirby gets so much suction on the carpet that it literally lifts the carpet up with it's undeniable power. Sure, you can use it to paint your house, blow your leaves, detail your car, shampoo your carpets, and make an actual golf ball spin rapidly three inches away from the vacuum hose. Sure, they in some way inexplicable to me in this recession-stricken period in our history were able to knock the outrageous preliminary $2395 asking price down to the factory-price - $795.

All I could think about was how I had just lost 90 minutes of my life, that they obviously had no conception or appreciation for how valuable that time lost was to me, and that I had to finish my six-page Spanish paper, as well as a 20-minute class presentation.
I don't know who is more to blame, the pushy people who barged into my place of security, myself for being stupid enough to let them in in the first place, or my neighbor who didn't let them in so that they ended up at my house. Well, we know the second choice isn't an option, so it's either pushy people or my neighbor.

The moral of the story is this: the people from Kirby reminded me of a resolution I made years ago with regard to overly aggressive and pushy salespeople. If I can't keep them from barging into my house, or wasting my time calling me on the phone, they at least need to know that they have lost a customer, forever.

I have made this resolution time and time again. I often re-make it whenever I walk into a shopping mall. I explained my position to this effect in the past to a representative of the Casper Star-Tribune. I had subscribed to the paper for a time, but because of financial circumstances, I canceled the subscription. When they wouldn't stop calling me, I finally said, "Listen. I like your newspaper. I am aware of its presence in the world. In the future, when I am able to do so, it is very likely I will subscribe to the paper again. But if you call me one more time, I guarantee you I will never buy another paper from your company again."

Unfortunately, I didn't say the same thing to the Kirby crew. But I'm saying it now. I'm sure it makes no difference to the salespeople from last evening if I never buy a Kirby vacuum. But resolutions such as these are necessary to combat against the space-invading creatures that will not leave innocent civilians like me alone. In the end, my life will be easier. So, was it really worth it, Kirby?