I want to express my opinion and to ask some questions. Questions are essential to the process of learning. One might disagree with another person's opinion, but how one feels about something is okay. Feelings are okay.
In fact, I will digress here for a moment. I remember very few lectures from dental school, or even from my undergraduate education at Ricks College and BYU. But one that I remember clearly was a lecture by one member of the prosthodontic department at the University of Washington Dental School. (His name is not important, but I do remember it.) That was the only lecture we had from that particular instructor. It was about some obscure niche of what complete dentures are supposed to be about. What I remember is five little statements at the top of the mimeographed lecture notes he handed out. These are the five statements, and they have become part of my core value system
1. I am responsible for my head.
2. I am not responsible for your head.
3. You are not responsible for my head.
4. Feelings are okay.
5. People are okay.
Feelings and opinions usually come from each individual's perspective, and I suspect that the perspective is a product of our life's experience. Since we each bring a different tool box and scrap book to the discussion table, each of us is unique. But we are also similar in many ways. That brings up the question of which is more important, our similarities and commonnesses, or our differences and uniquenesses. I suppose the answer to that one is decided by our individual comfort zones.
For example, I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho. That lovely southeast Idaho town was predominantly Mormon, middle-class (has anybody ever really defined what middle-class is?), good people of European ancestry accustomed to living in the land of the cold wind, etc. There was one older Black gentleman who lived in our town. We all commented on his uniqueness every time we saw him. I think he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, but that doesn't matter. When the racially charged activities of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's began to take up more space in the newspaper and more time in the nightly news on TV, I had no way to measure the validity of what we were seeing. Frankly, I thought that there was not much those people had to complain of. Anybody who wanted to could get an education, live by the rules of society, and move upward on the ladder of opportunity, economic or otherwise.
Then I went on an LDS mission to South Africa. Suddenly I was part of the racial minority, but because of my European ancestry I was a part of the power majority. Apartheid (that is pronounced apart-ate not apart-ide) was the rule of the land. Sometimes missionaries are just teenage boys and they do and say dumb things. I said some dumb thing in a letter to my dad about the ignorance of the Natives of South Africa. (Native refers to the Black South Africans and European refers to the White South Africans.) He wrote back to me (letters took a week each way, so it was two weeks later) and I could tell he was not smiling. He counseled me sternly to change my attitude. He reminded me that all human inhabitants of Planet Earth are children of the same God, and we are all subject to the redemption of grace through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He told me I needed to learn to love all people of every race and culture, and that my future happiness would depend on my ability to do just that. He got my attention, and I have tried to live my life according to his wise instruction. So when I participate in a discussion of such matters, my opinion is driven by that background. In that I am unique, and I am also similar to many others of broadly various backgrounds.
So here is what I want to do with my blog.
1. Tell a story.
2. Speak out on what I think is true and valid.
3. Build a feeling of love and brotherhood among mankind, at least as far as my small influence will reach.
4. Promote truth and beauty. John Keats said truth is beauty and beauty, truth. I think he was right.
5. Encourage healthy and uplifting discussion among reasonable people.
6. Add other goals as I learn more about what I am doing.
That was too long, but you get the idea. I will express my opinion and encourage all to do the same. But in doing that, we need to respect each other's opinions. And we need to be willing, even eager, to change our opinions as new evidence or experience comes to light.