If Bryce were reading this he’d look at that title and say, “Never use that word again”. He hates when I try to be all current and cool by using slang when it’s very obvious that I’m pretty much the opposite of that. I figure I’m using it ironically and implicitly mocking my own vanilla self. Anyways…
Jeff felt the urge to go help his dad with a home improvement project and convinced me that I should take the opportunity to attend the Women’s Conference held annually at BYU. I’ve attended in previous years with friends, but this year none of them could attend. Luckily, somehow we were able to assemble a pretty illustrious group of Peacock (and previously Peacock) women!
Stephanie Nielson was one of the presenters. She’s a popular blogger that I have followed for several years. She is an LDS mother who was in a terrible plane crash 5 years ago and had to fight back from near death. She took a picture during the session which appeared blog the next day:
So, I’m pretty much famous. No bigs. (Bryce wouldn’t like that word either.)
You don’t see me?
Clearly, I’m right here:
Closer still. I’m SO easy to spot!
Do you see me now?
Yes. I’m pretty proud.
She talked about bearing her testimony through the use of social media. She shared some of the hateful comments, emails and other communications she gets on a regular basis. But she also shared a letter from a family whose lives were changed because she mentioned God in an article in a popular magazine. That led them to Google her, find her blog and request a Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon led to the missionaries and later to conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But social media isn’t for sissies.
We’re in a new frontier. We have an unparalleled platform to speak about things we think and believe. Things that are important to us. But you have to be pretty resilient to then allow people to also publicly react to the things you think and believe. Many such comments devolve into ugliness written so easily and nearly anonymously.
I wonder sometimes if this will eventually lead to a breaking down of barriers where people will feel increasingly safe in saying mean and hate-filled things to people in person. I think it happens a lot already.
A previous President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley wrote a book entitled Standing for Something. It’s one of my favorite books. He lists “Our Fading Civility” as one of the 10 neglected virtues and says this:
Civility is the root of the world civilization. It carries with it the essence of courtesy, politeness, and consideration of others. How very much of it we have lost in our contemporary society! All of the education and accomplishments in the world will not count for much unless they are accompanied by the marks of gentility, of respect for others, of going the extra mile, of serving as a good Samaritan, of being men and women who look beyond our own selfish interests to the good of others. Only as we do so will we find fulfillment. (pp. 53-54)
But good can win. I believe that. I believe good is stronger than bad. So I need to add my voice to the discussion more frequently. That was my takeaway from the conference.
I can be afraid and be silent. I have justified this stance in the past by thinking I was just being tolerant of others’ opinions, but in truth, I probably just didn’t want to put myself in a position to receive the ugliness I’ve seen others bombarded with.
Alternatively, I can stand for something and join the conversation. I will try to do so thoughtfully, but do not guarantee I won’t stumble! We are all seeking truth and staggering through life the best we can(each of us making plenty of mistakes to be sure—do we need to point out each and every one in OTHERS?). I think I can be tolerant and compassionate to others while still speaking up for truth as I understand it. Consideration, thoughtfulness and civility is my goal.
Later that day, my sister-in-law (sistah- for Bryce) Michelle and I actually met Stephanie and her husband at a book signing.
I never know what to say in these situations. So of course, I mumbled something awkward. Whatever. It’s strange meeting someone that you know so much about through their writings. I wanted to ask how the construction on the new house was, like we were friends or something. Of course she doesn’t know me, but I feel like I know her just a teensy bit. While her face and body bears considerable scars from her accident, when I looked her in the eye and spoke with her, I didn’t notice it at all.