Sunday, March 21, 2010

On a scale of 1 to 10

I've figured out part of the problem I have in discussing Mormon issues with others. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between how important the two parties view the subject being discussed. To illustrate the point, I'm proposing a completely arbitrary method of ranking an issue on a 10 point scale of ascending importance as follows:

1. Completely meaningless
2. Trivial
3. Relevant
4. Somewhat significant
5. Significant
6. Very significant
7. Important
8. Very important
9. Critical
10. Essential to salvation

When I think a subject is "1" and someone else thinks it is "10" then naturally I don't care about the point. They think I must be convinced of the point or I am going to forfeit salvation itself.  When that is the case, we don't connect very well. If we do reach an agreement, I don't think the agreement amounts to much.  They on the other hand, think they've won a major point, or provided a valuable service.  I would likely be bored with the discussion, and since I didn't value the subject's importance would probably offend the other party by my disinterest.

On the other hand, views change.  At one point I am convinced that some behavior or conduct is either 9 or 10, only to later realize that it is more likely a 3 or 4.  That change in attitude may be due to nothing more than living longer, getting more experience and developing a little humility about life and its challenges.

I think that a lot of discussions, disagreements and strong arguments are rooted in an assignment of different levels of importance to the subject.

For example, when I was an Elder's Quorum President, Home Teaching by Quorum members was something between an 8 and 10.  I'm not an Elder's Quorum President any longer, and I go home teach my families because I really care about them.  I like them.  I want to be with them.  I find them interesting.  I've been 100% for many months and, if I miss at all, it is due to either their absence during the month or mine.  But I try to keep in close touch, not because of some "assignment" but because I like them.  If I were to assign a level of importance to home teaching now, based on the scale above, I would candidly give it a 5 or 6.

There are people who believe the center piece of the relief society room during a lesson is a 10.  I don't relate well to that.   And there are those who think President Monson's General Conference Addresses are a 1. I don't relate well to that, either.

Before a discussion begins about gospel subjects, I think it is always helpful to first find out how important the subject is to the person with whom you are speaking.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic point! One of the many things that can go wrong in human to human communication. I think we are often having very different discussion when we converse, but that is the therapist talking.


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