There has been a lot in the newspaper and on TV lately about tolerance and racism, especially with all the stuff that's been happening in Missouri. Son Number Three and I saw a recent segment on the news that ended with an appeal for viewers to send in their experiences with racism or intolerance. My son and I got to talking about it afterward. And he posed some good questions I couldn't really answer.
If someone made a foul and disrespectful musical about the Quran or the Torah, there would be protests and riots. It wouldn't be tolerated. But someone produces such a musical about the Book of Mormon and it wins Tony Awards. Why do we insist on courtesy toward other religions but say it's okay to poke fun at Mormons? My boss got tickets to attend the show and said she wanted to go because she'd heard it was foul. And she told me this with a grin as if she had no idea that this could possibly be hurtful to anyone. She's an intelligent and extremely educated woman who spends much of her life volunteering in an impoverished country. Her heart is good. So what's going on here?
Growing up LDS, and especially living outside of Utah, we've always been taught to just let it roll off our backs, to be peacemakers, to answer disrespect with genuine caring and kindness. We're told to laugh it off and say snappy things like, "Now that you've seen the musical, read the book!" We're to love our enemies. This has been engrained in us since our ancestors were forced out of their homes by armed mobs, since the pioneers trekked across the continent, since great-great-great-grandpa was shot in the back. And I completely agree that getting angry or belligerent is not the solution. I want to contribute to the peace in the world, not detract from it. For the most part I'm able to shrug it off, ignore it, don't let it get under my skin. I'll just quietly be who I am. I'm tough, right?
But when people I know and work with and respect, people who know I'm LDS, don't even realize they're doing something that belittles my religion -- any religion -- I admit it does hurt. How much more, then, does it hurt my child?
So I told my son to go ahead and write to the TV show and share what he was feeling about it. His response? A small smile, a shake of the head. Naah. Don't stir it up. Don't make trouble. What's the point? It's not a big deal.
I'm afraid he's been a good student.