This afternoon I was able to visit the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I was quite familiar with the events of that fateful day after reading "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, and Glen M. Leonard. Upon completion of the book, I blogged about it here.
Being familiar with the suffering endured by the Baker/Fancher party, visiting the monument was an emotional experience for me. It was heartbreaking to read the names of ages of the adults and children who were murdered on that Sept 11th day. Children as young as 7 were killed in hopes that the youngest children (those under 7) would not remember the events of that day and would not be able to place blame on the Mormon settlers who were responsible for this horrendous act. In 1999 the LDS church erected the monument below to remember the settlers that perished on that day.
As I stood in the peaceful valley I couldn't help but think of their party and how they must have felt safe and protected there. The cruel turn of events was almost unimaginable and yet, the monument is there, reminding all visitors of what can happen when "complex animosities and political issues intertwine with religious beliefs". (a quote from the overlook plaque displayed below)
As we drove away from the monument, we couldn't help but begin to draw parallels to present day "complex animosities and political issues intertwined with religious beliefs". We reflected on the hurt and damage inflicted on many of our dear friends due to Boyd K Packer's recent conference talk in which he said
“Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.” (TheDue to these kinds of statements, our homosexual friends are made to feel as if they are sinners, evil, weak and wrong. Many members of the church take such statements and use them as fodder to perpetuate the animosity towards our LGBT friends...Saying that they love them on one hand, but refusing to allow them love in this life on the other.
censoredprinted text reads: “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”)
Instead of nurturing the animosity between "us" and "them" we need to put our differences aside and truly love one another, not just in name but, more importantly, in practice. Love that allows everyone the same rights and privileges and recognizes the value that loving relationships (no matter how they are constructed) can give to our society as a whole. Instead of following leaders who tell us how we should think an feel, we need to instead follow what our own hearts & souls are telling us. Only then can we all put the "complex animosities" aside and truly say we have learned from the horrible mistakes of the past.