One of my deep desires is to just love everyone and be okay with whatever decisions other people make, even if they aren’t in line with my personal belief system. But sometimes it’s really hard for me! Like I have a hard time tolerating people who
-Don’t like Harry Potter
-Support Donald Trump
-Think public education is a waste of time
-Undervalue high-quality music
-Use Comic Sans
-Vocally oppose President Monson and other Church leaders
-Hate Utah (the state) and/or BYU
-Don’t use the Oxford comma
…and the list goes on.
Is there anything fundamentally wrong with folks that hold any of the above beliefs? I guess not. I mean, we’re all God’s children, trying to make it through a series of 24-hour periods. But when do you take a stand, and when do you just back off and let people do their thing?
A big weakness of mine is I hold such strong opinions that I tend to believe them to be fact. I’ve been known to make statements like, “Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto is the most glorious piece of music ever to be written!” or “Running in the morning is the best way to have good mental health!” or “The North Shore of Oahu is the most beautiful place on Each!”
These statements may be true for me (and who can argue, right?), but the key is they are my personal beliefs; not universal Truths or even truths. They work for ME.
I had a companion at the end of my mission who wanted to help me with this problem, so we worked out a simple solution: Every time I made a Sis.-Blair’s-opinion-as-fact statement, she would say, “You think?” and I’d modify it to start with, “I think…” This is something I’ve tried to continue to practice since coming home, but sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish between facts and my right opinions!
So here’s my quandry: I’m not sure about when it’s appropriate to just take a step back and be cool with everyone, and when it’s appropriate to take a stand. As Hamilton says to Burr in the beginning of that delightful musical, “If you stand for nothing, what’ll you fall for?” Elder Christofferson also addressed this issue in his most recent Conference talk. How do we lovingly stand for our beliefs (and opinions?) without being dogmatic or pushy or narrow-minded? Where’s the balance?