In the wake of the recent violent deaths of those I consider to be brothers and sisters, my heart is heavy.
There is initial shock. Then there is learning more. I hear arguments. There is anger and disgust. And then defensiveness and increased hostility. I hear pain and despair. I hear confusion. People speak in entirely different terms, and can’t even process another’s view. There is disdain for the other. There is denial of pain and denial of the wrong inflicted. By this, the wounded are rejected again. It all hurts. In the large stage of instant news and social media, we each feel more personally the tragedy that happens to someone else. Opinions and judgments are strong.
After brutal killings in the news this week, many of us discovered that responses from others revealed something almost as disturbing as a killing itself – and sometimes even more surprising: a level of bigotry we did not know was there, so widespread and so toxic, just under the surface of people around us, people we thought we knew. This is what I saw recently after news of many LDS LGBT suicides too. I did not know so many Mormons could be so cold and uncaring about the suffering happening right next to them.
After repeatedly seeing so many members reveal their lack of compassion, I want to tell Mormons in distress to leave the church. I want to tell them that to live, they need to leave.
I want to tell LDS LGBTQ youth to get out, to forge a new life, to find the happiness waiting for them. Don’t stay and try to make it work, because it won’t.
I want to tell depressed men and women to get out, too. You’ll never find the happiness you need inside the hampster’s wheel.
Leave the craziness of having all the right Mormon answers! Leave the insanity of moral bigotry! Leave behind the hostility. You’ll find love and acceptance outside the church.
I want to tell parents that if they stay actively Mormon, their best efforts to love their children will not cancel out the negative influence of Mormon doctrine. If you want your children to live and live well, you need to leave the church. Children need to know that they are loved more than ideas, ideals, or someone else’s vision of eternity.
But then I realize that maybe I need to leave, too. Caring so much is affecting my health. And no matter how deeply I feel the pain of suicidal youth, maybe I can’t help where I am. Maybe I need to completely leave it all far behind. To not think about it anymore. To not write about it. To not figure out how to explain anything about Mormonism anymore. To put it out of my mind. Because I don’t have all the answers. And because maybe I have prejudices too.
But I see that Mormonism hurts. And I see that many Mormons don’t see it. They’re such kind, gentle people – so many of them. I thought I could at least try, but maybe I can’t help.
It hurts to believe in the church. It hurts to love someone who loves the church most of all. And it hurts to watch others get hurt by the church.
Maybe if the first two hadn’t hurt me so very much, I could be stronger at sticking around to help with the last.
I think I need to be away for now though. I need a break.
But how do I stop caring for people – people I consider to be “my people” – people I feel I understand and could help? It’s a new sadness for me: a new MormonHurt. I’ll be carrying it, like I have all my Mormon pain. I’ll keep caring; I’ll keep looking for ways to help. But I’m not hopeful. And that is new to me.
I feel less hope because I believe that the best thing is to leave. And I know how hard that is! It’s easy to say, and an obvious solution when you’re on the outside. From inside, though, you instinctively know that leaving will be more difficult than you can imagine.
But then I keep coming back to one question. Is anything in the world more tragic than being suicidal because of your religion?
Is it that hard to figure out that something that causes such pain ought to be discarded? It is! That’s how powerful Mormon ideas, ideals, and visions have become.
So maybe tomorrow will be different. But for today, like so many others, I just feel sadness for those who have lost their lives. I feel sad for their families and their friends. And I feel sad that the community around these people is a mix of support and indifference, with a mean streak of judgment.
I am sad that I feel helpless. Maybe many of us share that feeling about the tragedy around us. Tomorrow maybe we’ll learn to communicate better, and we’ll find ways to do more.
But, for many of us, today there is just grief.