Monday, November 24, 2008

Attitude about Utah

At the bottom of an article describing the history of a Tennessee Stake, I found a short bio of the author, which was apparently self written. In it the writer indicated how proud he was that his ancestors were NOT transplants from Utah. Now look at this carefully. The focus of the statement isn't how grateful he was for his local heritage, but how proud he was that he did not have Utah heritage. His exact words were "No transplanted Utahns in his lineage"

Does this show something? I have seen attitudes like this before, though I don't generally share them. I have to say, however, I can see why some people feel this way. In one ward we recently lived in there were a large number of transplants who had a very different view on life. They were still in school, grad school in most cases, living on student loans, but they drove the newest cars, they wore the most fashionable clothes and had distinct opinions about how the church should be run. Sometimes they were annoying, though on balance we were glad they were there. Most were in their early 20's so maybe they just needed to mature a little.


Tom from HK said...

Hey Bruce,

I think it has more to do with bias blindness and proximity preference than anything else. Of course those living outside of Utah usually feel that way ... and those in Utah usually feel the opposite.

My own experience (as a mostly in-Utah mormon) has been the exact opposite of yours. I would say that 99% of the Pharisee-type members I know live outside of Utah. They can't say a prayer without checking the "handbook" first to make sure it's an appropriate place and time. And their interpretation of things is the ONLY interpretation of things.

But, of course, that's because I live in Utah and it's a more comfortable place for my mind to come to rest ... I have to fight against it constantly.

Not unlike how the Chinese think the Japanese are cruel and stupid, and the Japanese think the Chinese are ... well ... cruel and stupid.

I also think it might have something to do with the whole issue of "temperance" in the Gospel. We are usually less likely to hear from the more temperate members. Meaning we form our impressions not off of the best and most representative, but off of the loudest ... usually not a good baseline.

Enjoy reading your blog ... good stuff. You really are getting good at the research and your insights are interesting.

BruceC said...

Thanks Tom, I have to agree with you. It is all perception. We see what we expect and it becomes self fulfilling. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. The Gospel has the potential to help us move passed our natural tendency to separate into "Us" versus "Them". But we must first realize we are doing it.

Thanks for the compliments.

Did you hear about Elder Nip?

Tom said...

I did ... very sad. Not only were we companions, he ended up going to law school with my wife at BYU. We knew his wife and kids and hurt for them. Tough time.

Talk to you later.