I just got out of seeing the movie "The Help". Turns out it was good. Of course not good like the book, but really quite good. I think it was the first mainstream movie I have seen where the audience just sat quietly when it ended. I have seen that reaction but more in movies you would see at one of the independent movie theaters. I'm telling you it was silent. Obviously people were moved. There were lots of tears. I didn't cry in the movie. However I did cry throughout the entire book. It was really beautiful - disturbing but beautiful.
I know I have blogged about this before but I am stunned when I read/watch/hear anything about the Civil Rights Movement. I am equally horrified and fascinated by it. What a wonderful and difficult time to live in. Sometimes I think that I was born in the wrong decade. Surely I should have lived during the depression era and learned what it really was to sacrifice and do without. Or maybe I should have lived in the 1940s and gone to work in the factories while the men were at war.
However I find myself most drawn to the Civil Rights Movement. I wonder how involved I would have been. I talk to my parents about growing up at this time. I know they were quite young for the time but they make it sound like Utah was quite insulated from the movement. Not surprising seeing that we live in such a white state. Also without the constant barrage of news from NPR, the internet and the 24-hour news would I have been as effected? I desperately hope so.
These events make me realize that you hear a lot of excuses from people about poor behavior. I suppose it is human nature. No one wants to own up to their bad actions. You hear that a lot of people treated black people differently or poorly because "that's just how I was raised" or "I didn't know any better" or "that's just what I was told."
When did we stop thinking for ourselves? How often in our lives do we use this excuse? Or how often do we do what Glenn Beck tells us? Or believe what our parents told us? Or do what the bishop tells us we should believe? I know it is scary to question but man do we need to.
I am embarrassed to admit this but I remember the night that President Bush spoke to congress a day or two after 9-11 and declared war on Bin Laden. I remember turning to my mom and saying, "It's a good thing Al Gore didn't win - because he wouldn't wouldn't be this tough!"
I think back on that now and that makes no sense to me. Where did I hear that? Surely from a member of my ward, or perhaps on KSL.com or maybe I heard a close friend say it. That thought wasn't at all authentic. I didn't even necessarily know what I meant. I was just repeating a thought from someone else.
I also remember the first vacation I went on when I didn't wear my garments. I pointed this out to my now sister-in-law Kathryne and she asked me why I still wore them at all. I knew at that point I personally didn't believe in them anymore. She really pushed me to answer tough questions about why I was still wearing them and holding onto them. While at the time I was a bit horrified, I am glad in the long-run that she did. It's tough changing your old beliefs. It's tough to let go of your old notions and truly question things. While the Mormon church is no longer for me, I do admire deeply my dear family and friends that stay true to their beliefs. Especially those that have really taken the time to question pieces of their faith that are difficult for them. I look up to them.
Yet we all say and do things even when we necessarily think or believe what we repeat or do. We don't only do what we have been told but we do what is comfortable. I just wish we wouldn't. I think of the gay rights movement that I am living through now and I hear the same bizarre comments. "If we let gays marry it will make my marriage less special!" or "If we let gays marry it will hurt the family!"
Do people really believe that? Now I know some people do but I think if people thought carefully for themselves that most people will realize that's a bunch of bull. I believe that in 30 years (hopefully less) we will look back on this time and will be just as disgusted with our behavior now as we were during the Civil Rights Movement. So how many of us will just sit and do nothing? How many of us will repeat phrases and beliefs simply because someone they know tells them they should?
I've said this before as well: Believe what you will. But know what you believe and why. Don't blindly believe. You have to be brave to stop always doing what you are told. And start doing what you believe to be true instead.