A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

civil discourse Community Mission Traditions

Recently, I got a chance to experience the missionary/salesperson perspective first hand. I was asking various people to sign a petition. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to say what the petition was for, except that it may or may not be related to my work.

You might question how this relates to Mormonism. Well, that’s a great question.

Well, I took my petition to a local stake trunk or treat event. I don’t usually attend local LDS stake events (as my name was removed some time ago), but I was invited to this one. It was a fun event, and no one was asking for temple recommends in the parking lot. Besides, my kids loved all the candy. (I did also bring some candy for someone else to give out).

So I wore my petition t-shirt, and began making my pitch.

I was heartened by the response I got.

Every single person asked me what the petition was about exactly. They were not about to sign some petition a random person asked them to sign, even someone at an informal LDS stake event. I’m not sure if they had all seen the 80s film “Heathers”, but everyone read to see exactly what it was that they were signing.

I did have one notable set of refusals, from the LDS missionaries. I never served a mission, but evidently, missionaries are not allowed to make any political statements or sign political petitions. They did meet the “over 18 and reside in the state” qualification, however. They were exceptionally polite in their refusal as well – saying that if they could have, they probably would have signed the petition.

In my quest for signatures, I asked many different people, at various places.

But I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged that everyone was skeptical and inquisitive, LDS and non LDS. They were not about to sign whatever was put in front of them. They weren’t about to sign their name so I would stop pestering them.

They wanted to know exactly what they were agreeing to, and wanted time to decide whether or not they actually supported my cause.

I brought the petition with me to the story time at my local library. The librarian who runs the story time has known my kids and me for over two years now. I asked her to sign, and she asked me questions about it. Later, she remarked – “Aerin, I know you. I should have just signed your petition; I didn’t need to ask specific details about it”.

I responded to her that I was glad to have had a chance to explain myself, and how encouraged I had been (about our voting populace) that everyone who signed was very inquisitive about it.

It’s probably too much to ask that whenever we have an issue, cause or petition in front of us, that we really examine what we’re signing. That we really think about what we’re agreeing to. That we don’t just trust that since we know or trust the person in front of us, the person asking us to sign is trustworthy, so their cause must be trustworthy or right.

Whatever the cause may be, whoever the person may be.

I think a healthy dose of skepticism is essential to a well-run society.

5 thoughts on “A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

  1. That’s a very encouraging story! And thanks for referencing Heathers – I’ve never seen it but always meant to, and I just added it to my Netflix queue. 🙂

  2. Saganist – I’m sure it’s one of those films that meant quite a lot when one sees it at the age of 17, and it’s very different as an adult here in the aughts.

    There are, of course, many disturbing themes including at least four murders/suicides.

    So it’s definitely a black comedy. I knew many of the lines by heart at one point.

  3. Aerin — that’s cool. I’m glad to hear that the folks there were friendly and open-minded, but not so open-minded that their brains fall out. 😉

    I agree about Heathers. I liked it when I saw it years ago — and if you haven’t see it, you might as well, for cultural literacy. But it’s probably not as cool for grown-ups today as it was for young people when it came out. 😉

  4. I think it is interesting that Mormons can be skeptics about some things, but tend to shut off critical thinking when the prophets speak. I guess we all have our blind spots.

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