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.

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