Back sometime in the lost, golden age when Barack Obama was President of the United States, I was engaged in a political discussion on the internet with a member of my extended family. This person said that Obama was the most racially divisive president ever, but that because I was blood family we would always be connected. I wanted a divorce.
Recently, that is since white-nationalists marched with torches chanting their antisemitism in Charlottesville, and since the LDS Church responded with a statement clarifying its first that "white-nationalism," "white-supremacy," and promotion of "white-culture" were sinful and unsaintly, another member of my extended family left voice mails for me saying that I was full of hate and a disgrace to the family name. I want another divorce.
It is odd that the only person you can divorce in your family is your spouse. I suppose you can disinherit your children and kick them out at some point from your basement. But I love my wife and kids. My wife is still with me going on 38 years of love amid life's challenges and my kids have pretty much moved out for good. Or, at least we can hope.
The concept of family honor and "blood thicker than water" strike me as pretty creepy when they are used to attack my beliefs and my personhood. It's probably a small fraction of what some minorities feel when under attack by antisemitism or white supremacy.
I'm well aware of my own faults. My wife lovingly helps in this regard. I have an educational and professional liability in developing some arrogance. Some of my best friends are arrogant and we get along just fine as we're on the same team. I also have to use my arrogant knowledge and lawyer skills to fight others on different teams. I really think I picked the wrong profession. But that's a blog story for another day.
And as arrogant as I may be which I know is off-putting to many of my "blood" relations in extended family, I still care about them. I even like them in a way. Love is a difficult concept especially on the receiving end of some pretty harsh verbal and emotional abuse.
Here I am in my eternal quest for unity and eternity of familial relationships in my unique belief system that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can heal all wounds, forgive all sins, and unite families together for the eternities along with friends and associations of all peoples respecting vastly different belief systems. And I have pictures on my office wall of ancestors in the federal penitentiary in Utah Territory for practicing those beliefs with the additional emphasis on the expansion of eternal families. Their parents and co-religionists had been driven out of Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois for their beliefs and practices by some of the same fundamentalist "Christian" values that some "white supremacists" now claim. Others of my Mormon ancestors fled native lands in Europe because of horrendous capitalistic systems of oppression and the same kind of religious persecution faced in the good ol' US of A.
There is an odd aspect of eternal family sealings as presently understood and practiced in my church. I am eternally sealed to my wife pending individual choices to honor that sealing with the freedom to opt out at any time which I choose not to do. All the other sealings are directly forward or backward, turning hearts of the fathers and mothers to the children and the children to the mothers and fathers. That is, I am sealed to my parents as are my siblings to them, but I am not technically sealed to my siblings, or cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I am sealed to my children, but not to their spouses. Their children are sealed to their parents, my children and their spouses. So there is a link back and forward in time and generations and collaterally, as they reflect the same parentage and children.
Sealings can be broken by personal choices. And there is provision in sealings after death by proxies in life to provide the personal choices to be sealed in that great chain. The Atonement of Christ, the "at-One-ment" can remove and forgive sin, mistakes, bad choices, and even pain and suffering inflicted upon us by others or the the seemingly erratic and often cruel conditions of life, death, pain, and suffering.
I'm getting a bit far afield and into some heavy religious stuff, so let's head back to some present reality.
My wife's school is under construction. As the school year begins, they were to have certain things ready for classes in modified, but operational mode. As bad as you may believe public schools and other governmental bureaucratic systems may be, they are nothing compared to the frustration and confusion of a construction contract with independent, free-enterprising, profit-based, corporate builders. Oh, yeah. The first-world problems of a modern society.
Getting ready this morning and recovering with restful sleep from the frustrations of yesterday, my wife admitted that she hadn't been fair in some complaints to her good principal and friend. I listened. She said that it was like giving birth (which I have observed and participated in, but in no way to the extent she suffered). It does no good to say it will all work out in the end when it is so painful at the present.
That was the key I was looking for in trying to describe some of the present pain, hatred, violence, death, and the threatened destruction of American values in the rise of nazism, white-supremacy, and the Age of trumpism.
I've been damaged by the fall-out in my familial associations. I can't fix that. I can wait, and hope, and pray. And there's more. I can and will continue to hold fast to what I deeply believe and experience. My life has value. My beliefs do too. My personality with all its flaws is deserving of love and respect. I will continue to seek for the good. This is not a philosophical exercise but requires action on my part to continue to express and do good in the world. I will, at times, limit my exposure to toxic situations and people that harm. But I won't stop exposing myself to the potential of harm as I fight for what is good and right as God grants me the power to see it. Can we constantly work for a new birth of Freedom?
Thanks, Abe Lincoln, for those last little thoughts. And the price you paid is tragically one we all may have to face. There was someone before you who did it for all humankind and therein lies my faith, hope, and charity.