Last Sunday I introduced myself in priesthood meeting at the STT branch. I said I was from Idaho. There were a couple of men in the group who had been in the military. One is a pilot of 33 years’s experience who has joined the Church and is just the sort of guy I would enjoy sitting next to on a river in Alaska, catching fish or just enjoying the scenery. The other guy graduated from high school in 1960, is of African descent, and was drafted into the Vietnam mess. So I said I was also from the military, and that I had joined the National Guard to get out of the draft and had then served 24 years.
Well today, December 1, one of those men came up to me and asked if he could speak to me privately. He leaned over and said, (paraphrasing) “Could I say something about one thing you said last week?”
“Sure,” I said.
He then said, “Last week you said you joined the National Guard to get out of the draft. Never say that again! You remind me of George Bush who is the worst president we have ever had, getting us into two useless wars. When you say things like that you offend some of us veterans.”
My first reaction was to tell him exactly what I was thinking, but sanity rescued me from that poor decision. I didn’t want to be responsible for perhaps offending someone and have him maybe stay away from church because of it. So I toned it down.
“Thank you for telling me that,” I said, “but I do not think George Bush is the worst president we have had. In fact, I think he was a good president.’” I did not tell him that Jimmy Carter was my previous first choice for worst president, until Obama demonstrated his astonishing ability to tell bald-faced lies, do all he can to demolish and ignore the Constitution, and do other things that I consider downright despicable. I didn’t say that. Instead I said, “I joined the National Guard because it was best for my career. Besides that, I am also a veteran. But thanks for telling me that.” I didn’t tell him that it is a bit arrogant to think that only those who did a tour in Vietnam are real veterans.
I don’t need to apologize for my service and how it developed. But I do need to be more forgiving of perceived offenses. He spoke his mind, and I disagree with his conclusions, but this Church is big enough for all kinds of people. There is room for Mitt Romney and Harry Reid, so there is surely room for people who adore Obama and hate Bush, and vice versa. In the end we will all need to make a lot of changes. Who is to say that the changes I need to make are bigger or smaller than those defects in another.