Be The Person You Needed When You Were Young

Be who you needed when you were younger

So many times I see kids who are growing up with terrible burdens that often even most adults do not even have to bear.
It breaks my heart thinking “if only I could do something about it”.
From kids who appear to be or who are clearly going through abuse whether it is physical, emotional, peer or religious abuse.
When I look back at my childhood, and how fast I grew up, so that I didn’t have to depend on parents who were too caught up with their own burdens, to really get to know or understand the burdens that I was going through. I had always hoped an adult would reach out and ask us kids “hey, what is bothering you?”. Or someone who had been through similar things in their youth, would then in their strength as an adult, work on the issues that seemed obvious.

When I was a kid, the obvious burden for me was the peer pressure of the LDS standards and the tribal/social clique mentality of active Mormons who seemed to either actively or passively haze their less active or non-member peers.

It is difficult for me to talk about this, because the social hazing that I went through started young, and was not my fault. I had two parents who chain-smoked cigarettes, gambled and drank. It was difficult going to school having stinky clothes and being of a less affluent family in an area that was very wealthy, and very religious.
However, later on, I would tackle my issue as “I refuse to be a victim” and I actively challenged the system around me, by getting tattoos all over my body, literally from my head to my toes. I had about 25 tattoos by the time I was 14, and I was rocking a large blue mohawk. So I brought the later-on hazing on myself. I did it to challenge perceptions and social norms. Whether it accomplished my goal or not, is up for debate. I feel it did some good.

If you ask Mormons if religiously influenced bullying happens in Utah, you will probably get a mixed reaction. Some will confess that it is a problem, and they might have children being bullied. Then others, who are more affluent, and possibly holding particular “callings” in the LDS church, may say “no it’s no different than anywhere else”.

However, the statistics regarding teen depression, teen prescription drug use, and teen suicide that has seen a 3 fold increase in just the last decade say that religious bullying is a problem. Even Ellen Degeneres had an episode recently where she brought on the singer for the band “Imagine Dragons” who talks about the huge increase in teen suicides in Mormon culture, and blames the culture directly for the increase. Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JzkarnXZLg

On the SHS 1995 high school reunion page, I brought up a meme. While it was supposed to be funny, I expected some outrage.

one of these is responsible for the dramatic increase of suicides in Utah, the other is marijuana

The response I got was a bit shocking. From several people who often promote their children’s religious callings, such as church mission work. Or from people who constantly bitch about someone who owes them money from years ago. To other people who post all kinds of non-school-reunion related stuff, they chided me for “having an agenda” or “being wrong” or “not posting in the appropriate venue”.

Because walking away from the conversation I had said that I think that this venue (the group for our reunion) is the BEST venue for this type of important conversation.
Why?
For the 42+-year-olds who are raising children in such a rough environment (emotionally and spiritually), many of which are teens now. It is important to talk about the problems that they are facing at school and in other parts of their lives. To help guide them, and see them through these things.
So the purpose of the meme above (I borrowed it from a Utah Satire group on FB)

1. Proposition 2 was just nullified recently by the LDS church, which would have given broad liberties for medical cannabis use, and it was replaced with a very harsh and useless bill at the request of the LDS church.

2. It has been found in many studies that suicides and depressive issues go down significantly in states that do legalize cannabis.

On the other hand, there is a social problem with highly dogmatic religious areas of the world. Not just Mormonism, but definitely Mormonism qualifies, based on not just personal anecdotes, but also professionals in mental health like Dr. Curt Canning (the former director of the Utah Psychiatric Association), and also some peer-reviewed studies, that I mentioned in a previous blog post.

So despite that these topics are not popular, and often not welcome. Talking about the “silent epidemic” as coined by the Desert News, is VERY important and very relevant to our reunion group. At very least, as relevant as talking about someone’s kid’s religious callings, etc.

Reference: https://www.deseret.com/2006/4/24/19949837/deadly-taboo-youth-suicide-an-epidemic-that-many-in-utah-prefer-to-ignore

This is the last post I left on the group;

Be The Person You Needed When You Were Young
Be The Person You Needed When You Were Young

I needed an adult to say controversial and true things that needed to be said so that a conversation and a solution could be found to these very serious problems. I am that person now. The adult that isn’t afraid to speak out, and who can deliver the facts effectively.

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