The Utah Bubble That Isn’t

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It’s hard not to feel like we’re a bubble, especially when you grow up here. Millions of Mormons, carloads of kids, tons of temples, and enough homogeny to feel homey. We certainly differ from the nation in a lot of ways, and some of them are nice. My alma mater will probably continue to win the “Stone Cold Sober Award” for the foreseeable future. We usually rank high on the charts for religious attendance, charitable contributions, children per household, and baby birth weight.

It seems especially bubble-like when you travel outside Utah at an age where you can actually discern the differences. Like, people swear and drink and smoke and there’s gays and a billion tattoos?!!!!! THIS TRULY IS BABYLON LET’S GO BACK HOME TO ZION.

I, like most normal Mormons, grew out of this. It was equal parts realizing that we also have plenty of that “evil” stuff here and understanding that those things, while against my core beliefs, aren’t necessarily “evil” and didn’t automatically make those individuals bad people. I mean, I’m still fighting these cultural biases on a daily basis. I think everyone has weird, quirky, or negative assumptions that are ingrained in them throughout upbringing, intentionally or unintentionally, by parents, schools, community, or culture. I think it’s ok. I think it’s about awareness and effort to improve, like everything else in life.

The problem is the perception that Utah is a bubble. The idea that we are ~*Zion*~ and therefore totally perfect, homogenous, and first class. You know what I’m talking about. The most obvious indicator to me is the overuse of the phrase “the world.”

“The world is so evil!”

“The world wants to corrupt you and bring you down.”

“Do not be led into ‘the world’!!!!!!”

Like, no. The world is not evil. Satan is evil. Sure, he may have a little more dominion in places where religion isn’t thriving, but he is everywhere. Including here. And what do you mean by “the world,” by the way? People? The people we have been commanded to love and serve? The people who just so happen to not have the privilege of being born into this amazing gospel? Do you think these people are just out there thinking “aw man. I can’t wait to just GET those Mormons and make them drink some beer!!!!!” That’s what I picture you thinking when you say “the world,” anyway, because I’m mean. And also because it’s funny.

We are not perfect. We’ve got a lot of problems here. And everything outside of the Utah-Idaho-Arizona Mormon belt is not a portal into a sex-crazed drug paradise. Sometimes I do have to remind myself of this when I go on vacation and the entire state of California smells like nicotine and has basically no changing tables in any gas station. The rest of the world is just like here, with more drinking and less fry sauce. Those are supposed to be our brothers and sisters too, even if they don’t have stick figure families on their minivans.

But the biggest thing that has weighed on me lately is the assumption of homogeny. The idea that ALL of us are Mormons. And ALL of us are super worthy, super happy, super solid Mormons. And we ALL are made from this basic cookie cutter with the same experiences. I am so bad at this, you guys. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to put my foot in my mouth, down my throat, kicking my stomach, because I said something so ~Mormon that made someone else uncomfortable. I mean, I’m a white, blonde, female Mormon BYU grad, born n raised in Utah County (who never stops talking ever). That’s my excuse, but it’s no excuse at all.

We are not a bubble. We are “the world.” Among us are non-Mormons, ex-Mormons, anti-Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, evangelicals, Jews, Catholics, atheists. Among us are gays, lesbians, transgender individuals. Among us are liberals, socialists, and democrats. Yes, even in Utah.

Among us are inactives, less actives, semi-actives. Among us are those who don’t believe, but keep going because they desperately wish they did. Among us are some who love the church but have a lot of questions and concerns about it. Among us are those with gay family members, inactive spouses, transgender coworkers, undocumented immigrant friends, Bernie-supporting neighbors, and victims of sexual, domestic, and racial abuse. Yes, even in Utah.

So stop living your life like you’re in some kind of white Mormon paradise, Danica/anyone else who does this. Be considerate. Be Christlike. Be less bubble-d.

Don’t make derogatory remarks about Democrats, because there’s a lot of liberal theory that actually aligns with Jesus’ teachings.

Speak up when you hear a gay joke, because there is probably someone with an LGBT connection hearing and hurting from it.

De-condition yourself from speaking negatively about those outside the church, or especially within the church with questions, because 58% of our great state don’t fall under the umbrella of “active Mormons.”

Try not to be bugged by those on their phones during sacrament meeting, or wearing flip-flops to church, because the grateful person next to them had been praying for months that they would actually come.

Show some sensitivity when someone chooses not to serve a mission, because you have NO FREAKING IDEA what they are going through. In fact, if we all stopped assuming that everyone is naturally going to serve a mission we could avoid a lot of hurt feelings and awkward corrections.

Ease up on the whole “if they don’t like it they can LEAVE!” mantra, because someone on the fence might take that as an invitation to depart, instead of staying safely within the fold while they work through things.

Danica. Honey. You had 9 years of primary, 6 years of Young Womens, 4 years of seminary, and countless personal scripture study sessions. You know what He taught. You know what He thinks of everyone. GET IT TOGETHER AND START ACTING LIKE THE MORMON YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE.

Watch what you say. Watch what you do. Treat everyone as a individual worthy of love and respect, and embrace the discomfort that comes in realizing you… you’re actually… *leans in close*… part of “the world.”

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6 thoughts on “The Utah Bubble That Isn’t”

  • 1 year ago

    I love this I love this I love this

  • 1 year ago

    I. LOVE. THIS. Yes, WE are part of this whole world, not on a pedistool above it. I like the idea the I personally can make where I live less of a bubble where I can love and serve and make all feel welcome.

  • 1 year ago

    Love this and you. I’m feeling especially grateful for this and your previous posts today–the ones where you’re vulnerable and feeling the full weight of your imperfections–as many of your past sentiments really hit home with me. Thank you for writing things I can relate to.

  • 1 year ago

    Nailed it! As I was reading it, I was actually astounded at the people that really are this close-minded! I mean, obviously I am judge-y and imperfect as well, but there are so many of THOSE PEOPLE in Utah and it sucks! We are so unbelievably lucky to have the truth of the gospel, but that doesn’t mean we are up on this hill looking down on all those below us. Christ never behaved that way, and He is supposed to be our ultimate example of how to behave! Loved this post so much!

  • 1 year ago

    Love this post so much! Amen to everything! Thank you!

  • 1 year ago

    I found your blog through the Life of Bon, and I’m really enjoying it. Thank you for the part about not asking people to leave. Guess what? About the one millionth time someone told me to leave, I did! (I am responsible for my own choices, and I am happy where I am, and certainly the “just leave” comments were not a truly deciding factor. But I won’t lie, an unintended benefit was not having to deal with the JUST LEAVE comments each time I voiced an opinion.)

    Anyway, thanks again for writing. As a former teacher with two little girls myself, I’m looking forward to reading more!

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