Somehow I ended up on the website of the Idaho Values Alliance this afternoon and I found it rather interesting that Bryan Fischer has listed among his various appearances representing "our shared values" before the legislature and in the Idaho media his numerous appearances on "Zeb at the Ranch." I couldn't help but wonder how many people, donors to the IVA and those who support Bryan Fischer and all that he stands for, actually listen to Zeb Bell's show. I also wondered who Bryan Fischer is including when he refers to "our shared values." I certainly don't share his values. In fact, I don't share his values, the values of Zeb Bell or the values of either of their supporters. If I were included in that particular pronoun, I'd be annoyed that my values and the representation of them ever stooped to the low of being presented and defended on a show so full of hatred. However, I am not the target audience of the IVA and how I feel about my own values and beliefs and who should represent them is of little concern to Bryan Fischer's organization.
On the front page of the Idaho State Journal this morning was a small article about the weekend conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints featuring the title, "LDS flock urged to uphold values." The article noted the underlying message from the conference, that church members should continue to uphold their own as well as the church's moral values in an ever changing world, and that "the moral footings of society continue to slip." Clearly, Mormon values and the values of all others are at odds. Certainly people supported the ban on gay marriage in California outside of those who were encouraged by the Mormon church to do so. However, they are not the flock this conference spoke to. You either share the moral values of the Mormon church or you don't. There is apparently not a universal value or moral held by all creeds, faiths, or range of believers. Once again, like with the IVA, I am not the audience the Mormon church is speaking to and I am definitely not a part of the flock.
That makes three groups, the IVA, Zeb Bell's listeners and the Mormon church, albeit somewhat overlapping in their scope and general system of values, that I do not fit in. Granted, I wouldn't want to be anything other than a square peg for a round hole when it comes to these groups, but it is particularly frustrating to hear so often about shared values and beliefs when the values being touted are not my own. I do not believe in the hatred, sexism, xenophobia, bigotry, intolerance, racism and general closed mindedness of any of these groups. I can't believe in any of their values that actually have merit because I can't get past and wouldn't want to look past the hatred they represent. Yet here I am in southeastern Idaho where these three groups and their value systems make up the majority of the population. We may not have the Aryan Nations here, but don't tell me hate does not exist here.
Hate will exist where we let it. I've thought quite frequently about this fact lately and I am encouraged by the growing number of people who recognize hate for what it is and are doing their part to expose it and join in the effort to eliminate it from our state. There is a value we all have in common--our state. Do we all not have a responsibility to the place where we live, where we work, and where we raise our families? Do we not value Idaho? It seems to me that instead of creating boundaries between people and groups because of what they believe and what they value, we would all be better served by organizations that can see that we share far more than all that currently divides us.
It isn't going to be easy to eliminate hate here. I can personally attest to the cost of speaking out against hate and intolerance. We take a few steps forward followed quickly by a few steps back, but we must realize that continuing to talk about the hatred, continuing to talk about the divisions, and continuing to express our beliefs in simple ways that everyone can understand and everyone can respect will in the end serve to destroy the divisions between us. We don't have to be defined by groups that prevent us from respecting others and we definitely don't have to stand by watching hatred prevail simply because we associate ourselves or even love those who are spreading that hatred.
In doing my small part, I hope that I can express my beliefs in ways that are respectable and understandable to those around me. I value human rights just as much as I strive to ensure their existence for everyone around me. I believe we all have a responsibility to rid inhumanity from our own spaces. I value this state not only for the back drop it served in my childhood as the place where I was raised, but also as the place I wish to spend much of my adulthood. I believe that good people are all around us and they don't all come in one specific mold. I believe a good, caring Atheist to be as valuable to society as a good, caring Christian and neither their economic status nor their sexual orientation detracts from that. In fact, their economic status, sexual orientation, religion, place of birth, ethnicity, political affiliation, and their educational background have nothing to do with their value. It only matters to me that they are good and kind individuals who value humanity. Whatever their value system, the only place where it might clash with my own is when/if they choose hate, racism, and bigotry over love and acceptance.