Over the joyous holiday season, I’ve had time to think about some less-than-joyous things.
I hate getting into arguments. It makes my heart sink to get into yet another argument. Some days, I just don’t want to check the blogs I read because I fear that there will be a comment in response to me, and I know that if there is, it could be another rebuttal I’ll have to counter. I know my emotions will spiral downward for some period of time that I can’t get back.
I hate getting into arguments, but crazily enough, that doesn’t stop me from jumping into them. Perhaps that’s my first fault? I can’t stand to feel misunderstood or marginalized, so I keep trying to press my view point until there’s understanding and agreement. At the same time, I know that I’m just falling into a trap I’ve set for myself…I know that all that will happen over the course of the argument is that I’ll be ruining friendships and boiling emotions, and I’ll leave the discussion just a bit more marginalized than I entered…
I don’t require agreement, but I think in an ideal world, opinions wouldn’t always butt heads and put us into a situations where one threatens another. So I always wonder, when I meet someone different if they will be the kind of person to provoke a disagreement of beliefs– or if I will provoke this disagreement. I wonder if I have to prepare myself for a future war of words.
If I find myself in an argument, I won’t let down. If I do, I feel I’ve betrayed my entire belief system. Perhaps that’s a second fault?
I know that “taking offense from what someone else has said” is one of those copout reasons that some faithful Mormons believe exmembers leave the church for, but I must say that the potential for argument is one of the reasons I dislike religion. And not just religion, but anything related to the sphere. Whatever the grouping, whether in the church or in another church or even among the churchless (it’s not as if atheists are immune!) there seems to be this confidence in opinions that ignites flames of disagreement and argument.
It doesn’t stop me from taking labels. Cultural Mormon. Weak atheist. Agnostic. Apatheist. These labels become too complicated, but still, I use them. Maybe a third fault?
One of my issues while in the church was reconciling what I didn’t believe with that I could believe. At the time, I liked many of the physical and tangible aspects of the church…like its organization or its emphasis on professionalism and business, but I disliked things like the intangible or spiritual aspects — even though I could see faith making a difference in others’ lives, it meant nothing to me. So while I had little problem defending certain aspects of the church and in regurgitating standard book answers for theological points, I felt uneasy defending things like the historicity of the Book of Mormon or testifying about matters of faith — not only did I feel enslaved to the idea of being in an argument about beliefs, which I hate, but I felt enslaved again because, as a Mormon, I had to defend everything — including that which I didn’t believe in. What kind of Mormon would I be if I told my opponents that they ought not take the BoM in any literal fashion? (I’m not sure if it is worthy-for-temple to view the BoM as an allegorical, yet fabricated work.)
It was incredibly freeing to distance myself from the label. I realized: I don’t have to defend things I don’t believe in. In fact, because the few things I did appreciate weren’t limited to the church, I didn’t even really need to base things on the church.
Reidentification didn’t necessarily spare me from all arguments. Instead, I traded anti-Mormon arguments from non-LDS Christians and other groups for anti-atheist and anti-nonbeliever arguments from everyone including LDS friends, stronger atheists than I and weaker atheists than I. But I was ok for a while with it, because at least I was defending the ideas I chose.
But…really…I was still making enemies.
I still wish, however naively it may be, that the things I say won’t create a spirit of contention. Yet, I wish simultaneously that I can be allowed to live without others denigrating my views. So, perhaps, for this holiday season, I apologize for the uncharitable things I’ve said (or the things which were interpreted as uncharitable). Unfortunately, I’ve never been a fan of New years’ resolutions, so I can’t say that in the future that I’ll be less willing to argue even if I hate the eventual escalation.