Real kindness is our closest approximation of truth.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:32
Some people choose a word to inspire them in the New Year. Last year, as I pondered that idea, I instead chose a word to direct my entire life. My foundational life goal is to find truth.
The Truth About the Temple/Priesthood Ban
When I was a young child (about 5 or 6, to the best of my recollection) I found out that the church did not allow black people to enter the temple or hold the priesthood. I was confused and concerned. I could not possibly believe that a real God would ever care deeply about the color of anything. Color. Such an utterly meaningless marker—and one I had dealt with my entire life.
In spite of the fact that the first presidency and all general authorities of that time (and every leader from the top down) defended the policies—(including claims that blacks were less righteous in the pre-existence, that they could only aspire to be ministering angels, etc.), I just knew it could not be true.
As I became older, I became more vocal in more places. What nerve, for a child (and a girl, to boot) to think she knew “better than the prophet, the Lord's chosen mouthpiece”!
I was taken aback, because I certainly didn't think I had special authority or position. And I knew I didn't speak for the church. I knew I had no power to make policy change. But I did (and do) speak for me. And deep in my soul, I knew it could not be so.
My parents never told me I was wrong and did not defend the practices. They said they didn't understand it. They let me think it through and talk to them when I wanted to.
But nearly everyone else with whom I ever discussed it did tell me I was wrong, that I didn't understand, that I was misguided, that I was “on the road to apostasy” for disbelieving the prophet and apostles and disagreeing with their stance.
Still, I searched for truth in every way I could. With limited resources and no internet, I read what I could and thought and prayed.
When I was 14, the church changed policy and, suddenly, aligned with me (the apparent heretic).
I know I could have been wrong. There are myriad ways to justify almost any position and I could imagine those, too. But this time, I wasn't. And thus I learned that leaders—including prophets—are fallible humans.
That should be obvious. We say it, authoritatively! But we typically behave otherwise.
Not only do we (collectively) vehemently disallow anyone from stating disagreement without claiming they are apostate or “steadying the ark,” but we will also work ourselves into contortions to prove that the wrong thing wasn't really wrong. It was right for the time it was done. It was right for a particular purpose. It was right to teach a particular lesson.
It was right! It was right! It was right! Even if it was wrong…it was right.
The Truth About Women's Relationship to God
When I received my endowment in 1985, women did not covenant with God. They covenanted unconditionally with their husband , who then covenanted directly with God.
Immediately, I did not believe that was correct. I could not believe women needed an intermediary between themselves and their creators. But who was I to make that claim?
Later the covenant was changed. It was still to the husband, but conditioned on his righteousness.
That was better. But as much as I adore my husband of 36 years (and as fortunate as I am to have married a truly Godly man), I knew he wasn’t my conduit to God, conditioned or not. He was another human, another child of God, a peer. Not my superior.
As many of you know, it was only a couple of years ago, the verbiage (of that part) finally reflected that fact that women are equal before God! We finally covenant directly with our God, not through someone else.
Again, I could have been wrong. There could have been an explanation for why this is so. (One thought, perhaps women covenant to Heavenly Father through their husbands and—with a completed scenario—men covenant with Heavenly Mother through their wives.) But it now appears that I wasn't wrong. Women don't need an intermediary between themselves and their God. (And you might recall, I define God as being Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, together, acting as one.
The Truth About Covid
Multiple times a day for the past 1.5 years, I have seen the result of perpetuated falsehoods:
- Fear to the point of true mass psychosis.
- Sheer hatred of others, up to and including wishing them painful deaths.
- Literal, direct blaming of individuals (including those who have never been sick) for infections.
- Massive loss of freedoms across the world—in the expected places, but also formerly free countries run under full medical tyranny.
- And on and on.
Robert Y. Valentine, a member of the church in the Canyon View Ward in Highland, Utah, posted this publicly on Facebook this past week.
Seems pretty charitable, right?
This man is so convinced (in spite of months of evidence to the contrary) that the vaccine will keep others from becoming infected and transmitting it to him (false) and that someone else's mask will protect him (false), that he gladly (AND IN ALL CAPS!) demands that those who don't meet him on the field of delusion, should not darken the door of his precious ward building.
The damage being done is real.
When I see someone struggling with something based on a falsehood—like this man—it seems the best source of relief is truth. At least in the long-term.
Decades of non-politicized studies, for example, have shown that masking is not efficacious. They also show physiological and psychological harms of masking. Knowing the truth about masking could not only relieve fear of being around unmasked people, but it could also help prevent the harms they cause. A doubly good outcome!
When I see people who are determined to do whatever they can, whether scientific or not (like the full lockdowns in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, etc.), to eradicate the disease, they should know that it's highly unlikely it can be done. The virus has animal reservoirs. Taking extreme and harmful measures to reach an end that cannot be reached is nonsensical.
Knowing that Covid cannot be eradicated can help us avoid the great harms done by those measures that, again, don’t solve the problem. Causing lasting harm just so you feel like you're helping—when you are not—is not a good approach. That's good to know!
The same thing happens when I see vaccinated people blaming the unvaccinated for their breakthrough Covid infection. In spite of the obvious irrationality just on the surface, the truth is these are non-sterilizing vaccines. “Leaky vaccines” give evolutionary pressure for resistant variants—and that happens more when the vaccines are given during active viral spread. (It's not a new phenomenon.) These people would be closer accuracy if they blamed the vaccinated for causing the variant problem.
Perhaps we should go back to the pre-2020 practice of understanding that infection is part of life and stop pointing fingers directly at others. But if we must place blame, perhaps it could be directed in a more scientifically sound fashion, rather than screeching at the healthy, air breathing 6-year-old down the block.
Just a thought. Truth wins.