So I read an excellent blog post here that reminded me of some stupid stuff I did as a kid in the name of my religion. I feel so bad that I felt such terrible behavior was justified, but I think it is also helpful to share some of my experiences if, for no other reason, it helps me understand better how some of my beliefs were actually harmful to others, even though I could not see it at the time.
When I was in 7th grade I did something that I am not proud of at all. I was raised in an active LDS home and was taught all about how bad coffee was. My 7th grade math teacher had a fresh cup of coffee sitting on his desk when he would start class pretty much every day. I could not believe that a teacher would do such a thing, so I decided I needed to teach him a lesson about how bad it was to drink such a vile substance.
One day, I came into class and my teacher’s hot cup of joe was sitting on the desk, but my teacher was not around. I quickly scanned the room for something I could put in his coffee that would teach him a lesson. The only thing I could find was a can of Boraxo cleaner. I am so ashamed that I actually dumped some in his coffee.
There was only one other student that saw what I did and I told him to not say anything. The teacher came into the room and I could barely contain myself as he would pick up his coffee to take a drink during class. The more he drank the worse I felt. Then I began to wonder if he would even notice. Finally, as we were quietly working on an assignment, he stopped drinking his coffee and said, “What?! What is this?!” He then asked if anyone in the class knew about this crud in his coffee.
I didn’t say a word. I was prepared to go to my grave keeping my secret, but the student who saw me do it obviously wasn’t so loyal. When the teacher threatened to not let anyone leave class until someone fessed up, my witness caved and ratted me out.
For my punishment, the teacher said that it would only be fitting if I drank some of the coffee myself. The funny thing was, I tried to use the excuse that it was against my religion to drink the stuff. It didn’t work. He said I could go spit it out right after, but I had to drink some if I didn’t want detention (or get expelled or whatever). I remember quickly taking a swig and running out into the hall and spitting it into the drinking fountain.
I felt so bad, but I also felt justified because he was the one breaking the word of wisdom. So sad, how my behavior was so hurtful and I had no idea. If only I could have been taught tolerance and love for others instead of the importance of avoiding taboo substances or prohibited behaviors.
I also remember when I was younger, that I felt justified for throwing rocks at a colored girl in my neighborhood. I’m pretty sure that feeling came from my upbringing and teachings about the inferiority of blacks from their less valiant behavior in the pre-existence. At least my mother said what I did was wrong and made me deliver cookies to their family to try and make up for my behavior. Even so, the racism was still there…I just learned I wasn’t supposed to act on it. So sad indeed.
I think now about how messed up sometimes the teachings of the church are when it comes to being in line with the golden rule. If treating others the way I want to be treated would have been more emphasized in my religious upbringing, I probably wouldn't have done some of the stupid stuff I did and even felt justified for. I think that the golden rule has been somewhat forgotten in LDS circles because some are so busy working their way to heaven that they don't have time to stop and actually live the golden rule. Many fail to think of how others might feel about what LDS members teach or how their behavior ends up treating others with judgment as a result of those teachings. What makes me even more sad is that it took losing my belief in the LDS church to help me realize this.
What is even more unfortunate is when I think about the recent talk by Boyd K. Packer and how I might be inclined to treat young people who may have homosexual feelings were I a young person today. If I ever had any idea that my behavior led to a young person committing suicide, I would feel completely awful. The sad thing is that the church is blind to what its teachings are doing to so many in the church. I sure hope the church realizes soon the pain and heartache these teachings are causing so many or I might have to grab my rocks and Boraxo and start taking matters into my own hands! I am just kidding of course...I hope I have grown out of that...