I want Native Americans to succeed, and assume most readers do, but do I think of them as successful only when they achieve my measures of success?
What of my Hispanic neighbors? My African-American friends? What of those with same-sex attraction? What of evangelicals or Catholics? How do I think of them? Do I use stereotypes to diminish them?
That’s the thing with scapegoating and stereotyping. It pushes our pain onto someone else. It bullies. It avoids our own weaknesses.
But the pain, of course, always pushes back.
Maybe why I am most grateful to be a Latter-day Saint is because this religion has taught me there is really only one onto whom I can push my sins, only one whom I can pester with my pain in a way that does any good.
When I put my pain on other people as a way of avoiding my own weaknesses, I can’t change. When I look to the Savior, I must look inward first. Change happens.
And there’s been another benefit with him as my focus. When someone scapegoats me, a chance emerges to learn a little more about his suffering for me.
I don’t like anti-Mormon scapegoating to the extent it remains in this country, but let’s hope I can put it to good use by learning a little bit more about Jesus Christ in the process. And let’s hope I can stop scapegoating others, too.
Lane Williams teaches journalism and communication at BYU-Idaho. He is a former journalist whose scholarly interests include Mormon portrayals in the media, media and religion, and religion and politics.
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