Yesterday, we went with some friends to a mountain resort close to our home. For an amazingly reasonable fee, we enjoyed our fill of fun activities in the glorious beauty of the Wasatch Mountains. I couldn't get John Denver out of my head (tweaked, of course): "Almost heaven, Utah mountains...."
We had a conversation with these friends that disturbed me, however. They are not LDS, and they recently moved here from a place they loved. I see them observing our culture with a measure of interest, curiosity -- and sometimes annoyance.
"What's up with the drivers around here?" they asked. "No one follows the speed limit."
When our friend actually tries to drive at 65, she feels like she's a hazard on the road. She talked also of people driving too fast in neighborhoods where there are small children. "Don't these people have children of their own? Don't they understand?"
I realized that isn't the only indication of a dismissive attitude about the law.
I came out of the services for the Oquirrh Mountain temple dedication, disheartened to find, yet again, numerous cars parked illegally. Like blocking the fire lane illegally. This happens ALL the time, even sometimes during regular Sunday meetings. I see the same behavior anytime there is a big activity at the schools -- cars parked in fire zones, in bus zones, in pickup zones. I saw something similar at the mall the other day.
My husband recalled an experience when living in England years ago. An irate man came into Sunday meetings one week, saying, "You Mormons did it again! You parked in front of my house!" Clearly this was not ok with him, and it was not doing a good thing for building a relationship of trust and mutual respect. Someone had the gall to accuse the man of false accusation. "How do you know it was us?" (It happened every week on Sunday at the same time. It doesn't take much to see these kinds of patterns.) Not cool.
President Monson spoke today about how part of the reason we have a temple in Frieberg, Germany, is because the government had been watching the Church for a long time, and felt that the Church was a trustworthy institution, thus granting the wishes presented.
I thought about our friends, watching us as Mormons here, seeing an obvious disconnect between what we believe and what we do. I think about that man, watching Mormons each week showing blatant disregard and disrespect.
And I wondered...how many people are watching us and not liking what they see?
I'm the first to want to jump to our defense with sweeping generalizations and stereotypical slurs against Mormons. That said, this pattern is something that shows some evidence of something amiss. Is is arrogance? A sense of entitlement? Thinking that little things don't matter?
I imagine someone not of our faith who sees such "little things" as being evidence of something bigger. I imagine that someone coming into our parking lot today, when most people know that we are attending the dedication of a building we consider most sacred. And I imagine that person driving away, perhaps never to come back, seeing such a blatant and obvious and repeated disregard for the law.
Yes, I know I'm getting preachy here. But I believe people ARE watching. And I believe integrity demands that even in the little things, we strive to truly be honest in all we do. It's what we covenant to do.
"At all times, and in all things, and in all places," friends. Even in parking lots. Even when we are in a hurry. (Note to self, as one who tends to have a lead foot.) We can do better. We need to do better.
"When members don’t live the teachings, it can be a stumbling block to those who do not belong to the Church."
-Elder Quentin L. Cook, "Our Father's Plan -- Big Enough for All of His Children"