This past week the Mormon Channel released a video that has sparked a boiling flood of conversation on Facebook and many LDS blogs.
Many women and men who viewed the video loved it. Some shed their own tears as they related to the woman, who gave so much of herself throughout the day to help others, but who underestimated the worth of her seemingly small contributions. They felt comforted by the message from President Hinckley at the end of the video: “Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do.” These viewers felt renewed purpose in the daily grind, renewed hope that maybe they really are making a difference.
Others have been highly critical of the video. They feel that its visible message is that we should say “yes” to everyone who comes our way, forsaking our own needs until we fall into the couch depleted and depressed at the end of the day. They fear the message is that it is right for women to sacrifice endlessly, even at the expense of their own peace. What diverse perspectives! Between these two extremes, surely there were many others who had mixed feelings about the video, and probably some who didn’t relate to it at all.
The diversity of emotions and opinions over this one video is a microcosm of our general experience as a worldwide church. One video — one scripture, one church practice, one Sunday School lesson, one comment in the hallway — will almost never be received the same way by two different people. In a global church that spans every ethnicity, every class, every race and every gender, it is inevitable that our opinions will be diverse and sometimes even polarized.
Neylan McBaine writes in Women At Church, “As brothers and sisters accountable for each other, we should not confuse diversity with disunity. Disunity is a destructive factionalizing that occurs when pride is put before loyalty” (Women at Church, p. 19).
How do we foster unity in the face of diversity? We must invite all voices to the table, try to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, and not shame or silence anyone who has a different perspective than ourselves. We must listen, and we must not be afraid to speak. When necessary, we must offer correction to each other with sensitivity to the journeys that brought us to our varied conclusions. We must be aware of each other’s journeys. Above all, we must not worry that we will fall apart if we are not united in every interpretation, or if we experience the Church in different ways.
The new video undoubtedly did some good on its own, and perhaps caused some hurt, but it is our conversation about it that matters: our diverse perspectives, when shared respectfully, open the door to growth for all of us.
- In what ways is your ward or stake diverse? In what ways is it unified?
- How is there room for multiple interpretations (of a video, a scripture, a doctrine) in a church that we call “true?” Does it make us relativists to accept, or even invite diverse points of view?
- What is your response to the video?