“Two Degrees off Center” is a monthly blog by Rich Keys about the personal struggles, issues, and topics that speak to the LDS/LGBT experience. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes humorous, but will always approach things from a slightly different perspective.
Two Degrees off Center
By Rich Keys
Getting to the Truth
From all the recent historical papers published by the Church, it appears that the Brigham Young Fan Club’s numbers are declining. (I’m speaking of the person, not the university, although I don’t watch Cougar football and basketball as much as I used to, either.) We used to accept any teaching, quote, and action from the guy as Gospel (“whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”–D&C1:38). Now we’re not so sure, and we pick and choose what to believe. Even the Lord may not want to take credit for some of the things he said or did. So it’s ironic that Brigham once said something that would later defend his own shortcomings in our day: The devil himself could tell the truth, and it would still be the truth (see Brigham Young, Doctrine of the Priesthood, Vol. 4 No. 3, p. 46-47). Now, he wasn’t defending the devil—he was discussing the independence of truth, whatever its source.
In an age where our discovery of truth is reduced to whether we swipe left or swipe right, let’s pause once in a while and ask ourselves if pride is replacing our search engine.
Before his untimely death in 2012 from a bicycle accident, leading businessman and author Stephen Covey wrote a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that has sold over 25 million copies and is still going strong. It was basically some key gospel principles set in the business world. Client companies from over 50 of the Forbes Top 100 List paid thousands of dollars for his seminars. One of the habits was “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.” To bring home the point, he would invite corporate management and union leaders to the same meeting and have them reverse roles in a mock labor negotiation with a strike just days away, all overseen by Covey. The management team would represent the union, while the union team would represent the company, and then they’d negotiate, argue, and defend each other’s positions–not just intellectually, but with the total passion and heated emotions that labor talks invariably bring out in people. They might stay there overnight and into the next few days. The exercise wasn’t over until each side could honestly and unequivocally say to the other, “you finally get it—deep down to the bone, like we see and feel it—the real issues and why they matter so much to us.”
That’s called empathy.
Neither side had to cave in or give up. But amazing doors open up when you “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The solution may even be something that neither side thought of at first. This is not weakness—it’s strength—it’s win-win…and the next time we’re beaten up by the bullies in our life and we go to God for help, we’re also asking Him to genuinely see things from our point of view and validate us as only He can…and if we’re lucky, He may help us see things a little more from His point of view. That’s called truth…and sometimes truth can be discovered from the unlikeliest of places…even Brigham Young.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all posts in the Two Degrees off Center blog series.