I already have to apologize again. I have been very, very foolish. Last week I said that Bernie is obviously going to be the Democratic nominee, shortly before realizing that in fact Hillary might obviously be the Democratic nominee. I hadn't been paying enough attention to see that coming because I had fallen victim to the echo chamber in which I live. Shame on me. The thing is, between two thirds and three quarters of the people I follow on social media who say anything about politics are all "hashtagfeelthebern this" and "hashtagfeelthebern that". Not only have I never seen even one of them say something positive about Hillary, but some of my die-hard liberal friends are among her most vocal detractors because they want Bernie to win instead. But I know about echo chambers and so I should have known better than to assume this small sample was representative of Americans as a whole, particularly when it's so sharply biased toward the 18-30 year old demographic. So... Hillary. The only candidate that I like less than Trump. Also, to my knowledge, the only candidate under investigation by the FBI. But that's none of my business.
Since all my predictions are failing, here's another. There is absolutely one hundred percent no conceivable way that Mitt Romney will swoop in, having learned from his mistakes the last go-round, and blow Trump out of the proverbial water before winning the general election.
I've been emailing a missionary in England. I didn't expect it to become a weekly thing because after asking about retention rates, reactivation efforts, prospects for the British Pageant to ever happen again, ratio of native to immigrant converts, and the like, it's hard to think of interesting topics that are within missionary guidelines. We started talking about politics and she became very outspoken and I was afraid I had induced her to break a rule, but I think it's all right for missionaries abroad to complain about politics in their native country, just not in the country where they are graciously being allowed as a guest. Maybe I shouldn't have then gone on to ask her what she thinks of socialism. I was curious because I know socialism has been a standard player in British politics for a long time even though it's been a dirty word in the U.S. until approximately last year when everyone was suddenly like "What's wrong with socialism? We like socialism." I hope I don't get her in trouble.
I guess it's prom season for those still in high school. I went to senior prom alone. I wouldn't have gone at all, except that this girl was like "My cousin from another school wants to go so you should take her" so I was like "Okay" but then her cousin had to cancel and I had already rented the stupid tux so yeah. But that's not important anymore. What's important is that I see a lot of kids saying, "I need ideas to ask this girl to prom!" Or, if they're progressive, "I need ideas to ask this guy to prom!" Now I realize that, given what I've just described, I might not seem like the best person to offer advice on this matter, but I have an idea that in all modesty I think is really amazing.
Step 1: Go up to the person.
Step 2: Ask "Will you go to prom with me?"
Step 3: There is no Step 3.
The other day I was going up the hill to campus with a very specific plan in mind for where I was going to go and what I was going to do when I got there, when someone came up from another angle and intercepted me. A vague twinge of fuzzy familiarity crossed my mind when I saw her, but I paid it no heed. I thought I saw recognition in her eyes as well but, knowing from experience that I don't actually have the capacity to pick up on subtle things like that, I paid that no heed either.And then she said, "You're Bracelets' friend, aren't you?"
And then it dawned on me. "Yes," I said. And you're her jealous, passive-aggressive coworker who doesn't like me. Why aren't you at work and why are you being nice to me?
It wasn't just in my head that she didn't like me. Bracelets said she didn't. It was like this -
Me: Is that why she doesn't like me, because ______?
Bracelets: No, the reason why she doesn't like you is because ______.
But she denied that, and I got trapped walking alongside her and having a conversation, and by "trapped" I don't mean that it was unpleasant, not at all in fact, but simply that it was just kind of happening like a river carrying me away. She kept asking questions about stuff and I kept having even more trouble than usual finding verbs and nouns and putting them together. And I was totally steered away from the place I was going to go and the thing I was going to do when I got there. I didn't really want to break free, actually, but I did have to eventually in order to go do the other thing that I was going to do after that because the other thing wasn't optional. After she had gone I noticed that my armpits were soaked for some reason.
The Adventures of Me in Stats Recitation
I think, "My friend Chloe has an amazing jacket on today."
I say, "I like your jacket."
She says, "Thank you."
I think, "That is not my friend Chloe. That is a total stranger. I am so embarrassed."
Intermission. I so badly want this to be real.
No one "makes" someone kill themselves and no one can be expected to infallibly know how to avoid triggering it. We should be loving toward everyone. We should not bully anyone. But that doesn't mean we control their actions. I tried to jump out a fifth story window once, years ago, during a brief lapse of rationality shortly after finding out that a girl I had known for just a couple days had a boyfriend. Was that the actual reason? Of course not. Was she responsible? Of course not. And the window wouldn't open more than a few inches - probably for exactly that reason - so after struggling with it for a few seconds I came to my senses and gave up, and what had happened seemed so surreal that I hardly gave it another thought. So anyway, people need to stop cheapening and misrepresenting suicides just to make an ideological point.
I love it when an Apostle explains something in terms that a first grader could understand, yet fringe Mormons and the media still insist on putting words in his mouth and feigning righteous indignation over something he didn't say. But let's not talk about that. Let's talk instead about these words from Elder M. Russell Ballard that brought me pure unadulterated joy. Recently he told church educators, "Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and the teacher responded, 'Don’t worry about it.' Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the church." (If I may put a word in edgewise, the first two of those items are huge pet peeves of mine and among the most alienating things anyone could do to someone struggling with their faith. Bearing testimony to them does have its place, but doing that in lieu of facts and logic just creates the impression that your faith has to avoid scrutiny to survive.)
"It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly our young people lived a sheltered life. Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today, a day when students have instant access to virtually everything about the church from every possible point of view. To name a few such topics that are less known or controversial, I’m talking about polygamy. Of seer stones. Different accounts of the First Vision. The process of translation of the Book of Mormon. Of the Book of Abraham. Gender issues. Race and the priesthood. Or a Heavenly Mother. The efforts to inoculate our young people will often fall to you CES teachers. With those thoughts in mind, find time to think about your opportunities and your responsibilities.
"It is perfectly all right to say, 'I do not know.' However, once that is said, you have the responsibility to find the best answers to the thoughtful questions your students ask. In teaching your students and in responding to their questions, let me warn you not to pass along faith-promoting or unsubstantiated rumors, or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past."
Now, in closing, a beautiful German love ballad.