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Reducing Extremism


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44 minutes ago, AtlanticMike said:

Hi BlueDreams, nice to talk to you. So I'm a very conservative/ libertarian kinda guy. And on January 20th I will be 100% behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It's my duty as an American to wipe the slate clean and support them in trying to unite the country and keep us moving forward. I did the same with trump and Obama. I never had disdain for any of them though, personally, I think thats what went wrong the past 4 years. He never even had a chance to be presidential, atleast that's the way I see it. For moving forward and reducing extremism, I think we need to learn how to be positive again,  much of our daily life has become almost overwhelmingly negative. It's got to be a GRASSROOTS EFFORT, the media, liberal or conservative, make alot of money by keeping us confused so we feel like we're reliant on them for answers to lifes difficult questions.  Personally, I've turned them off. They all suck.

Hi Mike, 

Thanks for adding your thoughts. I'm trying to respond without diving too much into the political aspect because of board rules...but I appreciate a sincere answer too. For the record, since I don't think we've ever interacted, I'm a very liberal sort of gal. I did try to be more even-handed with my critiques of Trump at the beginning of his presidency. It lasted about 6-ish months. I couldn't do it. What he was doing was beyond just policy disagreements in effect for me and many that I knew and loved. BUT I didn't want to fall into the trap of assuming the worst of those who could and/or did. And that part was definitely an individual effort on my part to seek out voices different from mine, to work to understand them, and then seek to have compassion and empathy for them. It's also entailed, personally, changing what I value. I'm looking less these days for someone who fits my ideological bend and moreso people that I think will be willing to work for all of us, lean across the aisle, and incorporate other people's concerns into their plans. Those aren't traits that are limited by party. I've been seeing people less as ideological advisories and moreso as people with different concerns and experiences in the US than I have that helps to inform their political stance. It takes the heat out of a discussion, from my experiences, and allows us the space to get more where the other is coming from, even if we disagree. 

 

With luv,

BD

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59 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I think people are not always as objective as they think they are being. (And from my experience, the “extremists” see themselves as “raising a ruckus because the fox got in the henhouse” as much as the “sincere” people do).  

And that could be what Scott is talking about. Many people that I know who tend toward the extreme believe they are being as objective as you believe you are being.

But arguing over who is being more objective, or who is being sincere and who is being extreme, probably isn’t a good way to reduce extremism.  It’s more likely to cause people to become more deeply entrenched in their own perspective than change anyone’s mind.

I think the best way to decrease extremism is to focus on what we can do to bring that about rather than focus on what other people need to do.

To an extent I agree with you but not in this specific case. The rallying cry of January 6th was not based on objective fact. 

We have to grab onto facts when they are there and avoid false equivalencies.

So me demanding evidence-based standard in the public square regarding governance is what I can do, in addition to other things. All manner of wickedness is enabled by misinformation.

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

I agree; the more people are brought into the fold, the more exposed and ineffective the violent outliers will become. Of course there will be subdivisions within the larger fold along the lines of moral differences, but there will be sufficient respect of agency / human rights to prevent intra- and inter-fold violence.

This is a big part of it, too, imo.

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5 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

I want to make this clear: I do not want this to be super political. I don’t want to talk about political figure heads unless it is in direct reference to something they’ve said about religion and specifically the LDS faith. 

 

One of my weirder coping mechanisms when something goes wrong is to deep dive into the reasoning for what happened. I’m a therapist so I blame that. Since the attacks I’ve been digging and digging for reasoning, profiles of people, etc. there’s several “camps” that the people fall into....namely extreme nationalism (white/Christian/American exceptionalism being the most prominent), a string of conspiracy theories, a strong belief in the mythos of American beginnings, and an exclusionary belief of what it means to belong to “our country.” These culminated with violent language, villainizing those who disagreed with them, and heroic elevation/justification of what they were doing. 

Some of these elements I’ve seen in the US branch of the church. I will not say it has the same flavor outside the west in particular. The further from the mormon corridor you get the less it seems political ideology is married to religious identity. This doesn’t mean people’s faith doesn’t inform or influence their political decisions. They often do. But there just seems to be a healthier differentiation between the two. So I wanted to open up a discussion as to what can we do to reduce the likelihood of extremism taking root/being enabled in our faith communities. 

Here are a couple that I have roaming in my mind: 

reducing US-centric messages that are based more on American myth /interpretation...or at least opening up and encouraging differing opinions/perspectives. Ex. Interepretations of scriptures in the BOM that is often interpreted heavily from a white US view of history in the americas

Taking a moment to dig and see if what one believes (especially if it dives into politics) is the only way to hold a religious influenced ideal.

I think this is a tough one for many even outside the church.  I once got asked how you could have both republican and democrat mormons by someone not a member.  It was really easy for me to see as I thought of different political stances, but I find most are so stuck one side or the other that they have a hard time even allowing themselves to think theirs might not be the only way to hold religious beliefs. Yet in the very rare occasion you can introduce something without politics many can see the "other" side is still holding true to their mutual religious beliefs.

5 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

I’ve sometimes seen that those who lean conservative assume that their interpretation of the gospel is the correct one. They’re more likely to share opinions that veer political and feel comfortable doing so in church. Note: I think this can happen anywhere where one view is seen as the assumed norm...for those in states like UT, that just happens to be conservative assertions. And their circle often leans or is almost entirely conservative so there’s often little push back. Which leads to my other thought...

Seeking other opinions or perspectives in the church that do not line entirely with one’s own. Avoiding rigid or absolutist stances. I’m extremely opinionated and that veers both into politics and religion. And with that I think there’s a temptation to imagine a world rewritten in our brand of ideals. But I’m trying to move past viewing my way as the best way for a country of 300+ million. I’ve been thinking a lot about Oak’s talk...particularly on getting to know perceived enemies. Often politically we’ve gotten to a point of treating and assuming the “other” side as the true enemy of our country, values, religion, etc. which 99 times out of 100 I don’t think that is the case.

I agree.

5 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

Pointing in before pointing out- I’ve noticed people are usually extremely “good” at pointing out where other’s views diverge from orthodoxy or “logic” or whatever else.

I have see this a lot.  It often reminds me of that scripture, which I of course can't remember now 😆, of looking at ourselves.  It's not the moat and beam one.

5 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

But we tend to be terrible at recognizing our own blindspots or the extent of our lack of knowledge/experience. Note I say “good” because usually their description of the other side is often a caricature rather than full grounded in reality. 

Exploring, understanding, and teaching the concept of peace. One trend that I’ve seen in interviews or statements about the Jan 6 events were many - even those wandering the halls after trespassing  - stated they were peaceful. There seemed to be a severe misunderstanding as to what peace really means and it reminded me of one of my favorite verses pre-jesus coming in the BoM that talks about the people having some resemblance of peace...but that in context it was pretty clear that it was artificially derived and unsustainable: 3 nephi 7:14 

Having a hierarchy of values where our political ones are more second or even third tier. 

 

 

These are a few I’ve been mulling...but I’m interested what you guys think. What could you see may curb the direction of extremism in our faith communities? 
 

with luv, 

BD 

I've been reading the book Outliers. It talks about a little town in Pennsylvania. Long story short they found that the people were dying of old age instead of heart disease etc.  The people lived in a matter that reminds me of zion - lived in homes with 3 generations. The streets were filled with people walking and talking.  People genuinely cared for each other.  

I've wondered "that town sort of began that way.  Could one or a couple of people start something and change the community they are already in?"

I think that goes along with where you are going.  If we want to curb the extremism it has to start somewhere.  And if I want that to happen then I have to be willing to be the starting point - at least one of them.  

So I think you are right that we need to point to ourselves first.  

We also need to be willing to make it safe for others without feeling the need to jump in defense.  People don't think you are listening if you spend all of the time defending.  They just think you are being a wolf in disguise. 

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5 hours ago, juliann said:

I think reducing the "last days" nonsense we hear so much about would be a good start. That is all about being part of a privileged group, which you prove by surviving. There is always an undercurrent of satisfaction that the "bad guys" will not only be annihilated but it be accomplished in ugly ways. As long as I have lived, the last days were imminent. I don't know how many more centuries of that false belief have to occur before we get down to business and realize we are supposed to live with humankind. As long as we think we have to assign everyone into good and evil categories in order to measure ourselves "worthy," I think we will continue to seek out groups/beliefs where we feel we are better and more enlightened than others. Extremists on the right are easier to identify but it is happening on all ideological fronts, not just religious ones. 

If we are actually approaching the last days, than ignoring that fact is a real problem.  People can take the last days as a positive or a negative.  They can look at it and get whipped up about events and become fanatical.  Or they can just accept things as they are and not stress out about it.  Since I believe we are actually approaching the last days, I am more inclined to just let things happen.  Not worry about politics as much because in the end it does not matter.  I am less inclined to even vote in elections because I believe we are too far down the path for anything to be done now.  I did not vote in the last election in part because I don't think it really matters which party is running things at this point.  It reduces my stress level and I can worry about other things.

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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t have any ready or definitive answers, but I’m not inclined to hear from those who, four years ago at this time, were excusing anti-Trumpist extremism.

It was at about that time that the term Trump Derangement Syndrome was coined.  

Anybody remember the woman who resigned from the Tabernacle Choir in protest of their performing at the inaugural?

I'd like to respond but I'd probably get banned. How do you get away with political comments questions like this?

I recall once I got banned for a week for saying nothing more than "Thank you Mitt"

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2 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

To an extent I agree with you but not in this specific case. The rallying cry of January 6th was not based on objective fact. 

We have to grab onto facts when they are there and avoid false equivalencies.

So me demanding evidence-based standard in the public square regarding governance is what I can do, in addition to other things. All manner of wickedness is enabled by misinformation.

I think politically-activated violence is even more fundamentally rooted in bias than in misinformation. We can perceive and manipulate solid facts in such a biased way as to turn them into misinformation, or even have a bias not to manipulate them at all. Then there is a bias for violent acts, whereby facts or misinformation are used to support them.

So I think the problem is not extreme beliefs or the bias that creates them, but the violence and the bias that creates it. Many people believe "x" but only a very few use it to justify their violence as means to a political end.

Moral bias is deeply rooted; I've compared it to the Meyers-Briggs personality types. But just as personality type can be managed and changed with experience, I think moral bias can be also. Socialization is the key to this. As those who are left out and marginalized for x-y-z reasons (e.g. race, income, education, various other differences, etc.) are given an opportunity to belong, their biases (for both facts and violence) can change.

The ideal would be for people of all political stripes and beliefs to be able to worship together: to borrow from a phrase, all religion is local, in that it is practiced primarily among people we know and with whom we associate. Thus within our local religious communities, we do not have to compromise our beliefs to associate with others whose bias can come around to refrain from violence as a solution. Law and order/enforcement remains a valid safety net for failure.

This sense of "local" belonging has to transcend the draw of social media and other technologies that imitate local and intimate connections, having a form of belonging but lacking the reward of living peaceably day to day with those around you.

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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t have any ready or definitive answers, but I’m not inclined to hear from those who, four years ago at this time, were excusing anti-Trumpist extremism.

It was at about that time that the term Trump Derangement Syndrome was coined.  

Anybody remember the woman who resigned from the Tabernacle Choir in protest of their performing at the inaugural?

 We saw dangerous extremism happen on Jan 6, and it wasn't anti-trump people. 

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4 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Heh. What is extremism to one person is “a sincere, principled, evidence-based position” to another. And so we get that iconic image of the woman screaming at the sky because she’s pissed off that Trump got elected. I’m sure she thought she was being sincere and principled.

And so it goes. 
 

Im just saying I’m not disposed to be lectured to about moderation and unity from those who would have none of such things four years ago. 

Are you really comparing the 2016 election with the 2020 election?  Give me a break.  Yes, there were people who were unhappy with Trump being elected and some did speak out.  But that is not extremism, That is called free speech.   Extremism is when you dress up in your red hats and violently attach the nations capital.   There is no justification for this.

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6 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

reducing US-centric messages that are based more on American myth /interpretation...or at least opening up and encouraging differing opinions/perspectives. Ex. Interpretations of scriptures in the BOM that is often interpreted heavily from a white US view of history in the americas

Always a difficult subject, because the American myth is so deeply seated in Mormonism: The American Religion.

At some point we have to let go of it. Our salvation is not at all tied to the fate of America or the victory of one economic or political ideology over another. When you look at conflicts or tensions between faiths, it's almost always a conflict between economic or political ideologies or a battle for geography.

I once had the opportunity to spend two weeks with the Prime Minister of the Exiled Government of Tibet. He's also a devout monastic. I attended a film festival with him about the conflict between Tibet and China and one of the scenes was the tank man in Tiananmen Square. I was floored when he later told me he had never seen that clip before. He explained to me that, even though he was the elected Prime Minister of an exiled and oppressed nation, he avoids political media and political debates as much as he can. His reasoning was that if you become attached to the political or economic ideologies of a "homeland" you will eventually be consumed by those attachments and your spirituality will suffer. In his mind, TRUTH is not dependent on place or time.  

Before we can reconcile, we need to extract politics and economics from our faith, to the point where we can stand together without hard feelings or ill will towards each other.

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9 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

 We saw dangerous extremism happen on Jan 6, and it wasn't anti-trump people. 

We saw dangerous extremism All Summer Long and it wasn't pro-trump people.

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30 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Always a difficult subject, because the American myth is so deeply seated in Mormonism: The American Religion.

At some point we have to let go of it. Our salvation is not at all tied to the fate of America or the victory of one economic or political ideology over another. When you look at conflicts or tensions between faiths, it's almost always a conflict between economic or political ideologies or a battle for geography.

I once had the opportunity to spend two weeks with the Prime Minister of the Exiled Government of Tibet. He's also a devout monastic. I attended a film festival with him about the conflict between Tibet and China and one of the scenes was the tank man in Tiananmen Square. I was floored when he later told me he had never seen that clip before. He explained to me that, even though he was the elected Prime Minister of an exiled and oppressed nation, he avoids political media and political debates as much as he can. His reasoning was that if you become attached to the political or economic ideologies of a "homeland" you will eventually be consumed by those attachments and your spirituality will suffer. In his mind, TRUTH is not dependent on place or time.  

Before we can reconcile, we need to extract politics and economics from our faith, to the point where we can stand together without hard feelings or ill will towards each other.

That would have been so interesting! 

I kinda see your point and @carbon dioxide as having a similar theme to it. And there's value in stepping back in evaluating whether we're getting stuck in what's just temporary and circumstantial. I'm also concerned though that we can step too far back and disengage to a point that we become apathetic to what's happening around us in our societies. When we disengage too much, it often leaves a vacuum that gives disproportionate voice to the most impassioned (and therefore often some of the more extreme ends). And that can be its own problem. I'll be honest in saying that I haven't found that good balance. I teeter in and out of politics trying to take breaks but finding myself sucked back in. 

Truth to me is not dependent on place or time....but the application of it often very much is and I think there's value in not just seeking truth but then facilitating and encouraging such in our societies. 

 

And yes the American myth is often deeply seated in mormonism in the US particularly. But it doesn't have to be. I've been spending a lot of time studying Jacob 5. I'm slowly going through it verse by verse and sketching/painting small ideas. A few of which I'll likely make into larger paintings. But the imagery of the first tree keeps coming to mind when I think of the US end of the church. There's this main body that as it grows old a main chunk starts to die off and that is reinvigorated by an infusion of new branches from wild trees. And I've been thinking how is that shown today/manifest? Some of these ideas that have calcified and become assumed can be shaken out a bit or explored as people with fresh eyes and differing perspectives look at the same verses and see different applications. Inviting those to share their insights and to acknowledge points of multiple interpretations or focus is one way that's personally helped me view verses differently.

 

With luv,

BD

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