Acceptance

One of the things I have to say today might upset some of my Utah readers. And I don’t mean it to. In no way do I want to imply by this post that I believe all people who live in Utah are like this. But many are. Like what? Well, let me tell you. I came to the conclusion today that one of the things that didn’t sit with me well in Utah was the fact that as a resident of the state–at least in Utah County (it might be better in Salt Lake, not sure) you’re not forced to accept a wide variety of people. What I mean by this is that so many of the people in Utah are essentially the same, the need to recognize and respect other points of view is reduced.

And yes, before you can all pounce on me, I realize that people in Utah differ from each other. There’s a growing Hispanic population, and there’s some variety in the socio-economic classes represented, but I would argue that the degree of significant difference among the majority of the population is relatively very little. Compare, for instance, the LDS church in Utah County vs. here in Maine. In Utah County, you go to church with the people you live next to. Church boundaries are relatively small. In fact, it’s usually quite easy to stroll across multiple church boundaries on a single walk. Here in Maine, the church boundaries are much bigger. My current ward (the LDS/Mormon term for church) is easily an hour and a half from end to end. The result of this is marked. On the one hand, in Utah County it’s less likely that the people you see at church and interact with will be significantly different than you. For the most part, they can afford to live in the same area, in the same kind of house. They go to the same schools, same libraries, same sporting events. You get the picture. Here in Maine, the people range from doctors to loggers and everywhere in between. Someone’s house may be wide and spacious or small and cramped. One person might have multiple degrees and the next no college education. And this is in a single church.

The point is, there’s not much variety in Utah. Plain and simple. And since there’s not much variety, people can try to be as accepting as possible all they want, but in the end, they have very little real practice at it. It’s like a muscle that slowly atrophies. I noticed this in myself before I moved, and I didn’t like that part of me. In other parts of the world, you’re forced to interact with people you don’t agree with, or who have a very different background than you. And because there’s such a greater variety, you get better at accepting people for who they are. This isn’t to say that everyone in Utah is bad at being accepting or that everyone in Maine is good at it. It’s simply to say that the scale is different.

Hopefully some of this is making sense. People in Utah used to ask me what I didn’t like about being there. This is one of the things. I’d rather my children grew up in a place where they need to learn to be as accepting as possible. When everyone’s more similar, it becomes too tempting to judge other people. You start to think less for so and so, because they’re handling a situation differently than you would. Or maybe I shouldn’t say “you.” I started to find myself doing that. And it’s wrong.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Anyway. Enough of that. I’ve had some disturbing extended family news recently that’s perhaps making me a tad more reflective than I usually am wont to be. I don’t want to go into it yet, though. So don’t ask. It has nothing directly to do with me, the wife or kids. No worries.

In other, brighter, happier news, we went over to a friend’s house to play Settlers of Catan last night, and we had a wonderful time. Very nice to get out of the house now and then and interact with other people. Baby girl did a good job being out and about, even if she didn’t sleep at all.

NCAA update: I need UNC to win. And I want UCLA to lose as soon as possible. If those two things happen, I will have vindicated my superiority complex and proven once again that I am right and everyone else is wrong. If, on the other hand, that doesn’t happen, I will have shown that I can humble myself enough to allow other people to win something every now and then. 🙂

And now my lunch break’s almost entirely gone, so I must leave you fair readers. Have a spiffy Thursday.

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3 Responses to Acceptance

  1. raisinfish says:

    Huh. That hasn’t been my experience at all. BYU is like that, but most of my friends aren’t students, and they live MUCH different lifestyles than I do.
    Maybe you just needed to be more involved in the geek community. The game store is incredibly diverse. We have a good time. I don’t make friends with the people in my ward, but my non-lds friends (the friends I actually hang out with, incidentally) are as diverse as any group I had in California.

    • brycemoore says:

      Yeah. I never was really too deep into the geek community, but this post also wasn’t intended for them at all. On the whole, geeks are very accepting of just about anybody. Well, hardcore hardcore geeks can get elitist, but you know what I mean.
      I think what I had most in mind here is the people I’d encounter through the church in Utah. My actual friends were much different than this stereotype, for the most part, but I had some bad experiences with wards. Here in Maine, the ward is so nice and so diverse–the contrast between it and Utah is just very stark.
      But I don’t think my actual sentiment is translating too well into words.

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