When you openly criticize a system you live in, eventually you hear the following: why don’t you just leave?
I criticize traditions, policies, and cultural norms of the LDS church, and people tell me that I should just leave, that I should find a church that more accurately aligns with my beliefs.
I criticize capitalism and all its degenerate, oppressive qualities, and people tell me that I should just leave, that I should find a communist community and go live there.
That’s a cop out though.
People tell me to leave because they find my criticism and questioning uncomfortable. They categorize my actions as an attack because it’s easier to defend against attacks than it is to deal with the potential answers to those questions, than it is to internalize one’s long held assumptions and beliefs.
Kicking out those who are unfaithful to the belief system is a survival tactic designed to preserve the integrity of the institution. If you see benefit in that institution, then any criticism of the institution threatens that benefit.
If you find benefit in the capitalism promise that anyone who works hard enough can be a millionaire, then someone claiming that it’s just a myth threatens your goals.
If you find benefit in a church that teaches its leaders have a direct connection to heaven so that their every word is scripture, then someone underscoring their mortality and fallibility threatens your own faith.
Kicking people out of the institution they’re protesting is a capitalist response. It’s the same principles behind kicking out undocumented immigrants, jailing communists, and killing people of colour. We’re just as attracted to defending our institutions as we are to nationalism. It’s no surprise that the same people who say their church is the one true church or that capitalism is the best system are the same ones who say their country is number one.
The thing is though, defending our institutions is lazy. It’s easier to close our minds and defend than it is to entertain questions and objectively examine our beliefs. We’d rather choose purity of the institution over authenticity of the self.
Instead of kicking everyone out so we can maintain our homogeneity, we should embrace those who question our institutions. Instead of kicking out Muslims and Mexicans, we should welcome and support them. Instead of kicking out communists and anarchists, we should embrace and listen to them. Instead of kicking out progressive and post Mormons, we should give them space and learn from their insights.
The 40-hour work week didn’t come about because of capitalist benevolence. Marriage equality didn’t emerge because of politician progressiveness.
Change comes from within, not without. If apologists can keep out the changemakers, then change never happens. If the changemakers stay, then change comes.
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