Sunday, October 5, 2014

Think Twice Before You Sign the Discriminational Law Review (Because You Are Told To)

Today I am very disappointed on how some members handled the
Discrimination Law Review and publicly lobby members at church
meetings to disagree certain consultation questions in the name of
protecting traditional institution of marriage in Hong Kong. I know the risk
of posting this and it is my intention to explain why you should think twice
before signing it.

I understand the Church’s position on homosexuality and defending
traditional family. I am a Mormon, and I have been struggling to
understand how to balance loving my friends who are homosexual while
aligning my thoughts and actions with my beliefs.

This is the moment for me to speak up. 

In the circulated online message and Relief Society announcement,
members (or nonmembers) are strongly encourage to show concern for
the questions listed in the following website.

Question 6, 9, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73 

When the forms were distributed, a few who were confused with legal
jargons raised their questions indicated not knowing what they were
asked to do. The instructions given were to just check disagree on the
questions indicated above and then submit them since this would be very
urgent. Someone else spoke up and voiced concern of the basic right for
the audience which required fully understanding the content of
Discrimination Law before indicating their comments. That got shot down
pretty quickly.

In another ward, the forms were prepared with those questioned
indicating disagree while member just had to put their personal
information on. The introduction and purpose of the law review were not
given in both wards which caused my concerns.

#1 You and I have our rights as citizens to voice our concerns but not this
way. You can solicit response while you have clearly explain the purpose
of your inquiry and given a chance for participants to freely express their
options. This is basic ethics, honoring and respecting each other’s right. 

#2 This Discrimination Law Review has nothing to do with redefining the
institution of marriage but to discuss if we need to expand the scope to
protect people in other circumstances. The purpose of the review is
clearly listed in the following:

“The DLR is not intended to be a consultation on developing
comprehensive discrimination legislation for new protected characteristics
such as sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, or age. The
EOC believes that it would be preferable to conduct separate
consultations on developing discrimination laws in new areas. We note,
however, that where the scope of the existing protected characteristics
raises an issue directly connected to new characteristics, we do broadly
discuss that issue. An example of this is the possibility of protecting people
from discrimination where they are in de facto relationships and whether that
 should apply to same-sex relationships. This links to a
characteristic of sexual orientation. However we also note this is not a
consultation on whether we believe same-sex marriage should be
legalized
.


Honestly, I am very disappointed, dreadfully frustrated because this would
have been a major ethical violation in my profession. This is not how we
conduct scientific research studies. If someone handed me a pre-filled
form, I would have not hesitated and express the humiliation and
objectification behind that. This is not how we participate in civil
responsibilities. 

On another note, there is no contradiction between supporting traditional
marriage, accordingly to the family proclamation and reconsidering
protection for people in de facto relationship, regardless heterosexual or
homosexual. We don’t pick and choose who we love and protect even if
we don’t agree with their lifestyle. We follow Christ's example to love all. 


Pardon my conscience screaming it isn’t right.

K.D. 


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Democracy and Obedience: How gospel values should be employed in politics

1.. There is no evil in asking for something before knowing completely what it is. There are scores of examples of people who sought after the gospel, not knowing what exactly it was yet the peripheral "beginneth to be delicious to [them]". We are not morally obligated to make a decision after fully understanding the details.

2. Even though we believe that God is at helm and He is watching over us, he DID NOT take away our ability to act for ourselves nor WILL HE do so. We have been constantly reminded that as Latter-day Saints we are to act and not to be act upon, and this is an eternal truth. Understanding that "everything is going to be alright at the end" (which is absolutely true) DOES NOT mean we are not required to actively bring to pass this happy ending. 

3. In fact, the Lord has asked His servants to "counsel between themselves and me" - suggesting that while there are absolute truths within the gospel, the application of these truths can vary. Reasoning is not just a gift given to us by our loving Father, but also a duty and responsibility - and most of all a commandment - that is crucial to the growth of all Latter-day Saints. The Lord gave a strong warning concerning this - after He addressed the Saints about politics, "...Otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil."

4. After giving such commandment to his presiding servants the Lord declared, 
"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness."
Keywords - "not meet that I should command in all things", "anxiously engaged", "good cause", "own free will". We are asked to act. Sitting in my home waiting for a blessing will do no good. It was ever thus.

5. The fall of the Nephites had nothing to do with democracy. It is appalling to read such statement. The idea of a democratic government is to establish a system which the majority rules, especially “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people”. While in the church we believe in the power of God and we are his subjects, we are not under the same obligation to our government as to our theocratic church. While the idea of letting the people to choose as their will desires is dangerous and could result into bad choices (which had happened in the scriptural history, e.g., Exodus where the congregation almost unanimously agreed to elect a new leader and return to Egypt), the very principle of letting the people to choose is inseparable to the heavenly law of moral agency. Taking away the right to choose and what you have are but pawns and not humans.

6. That being said until this day God has not re-organized His political Kingdom. Before then He allows us to choose our own government systems with guidelines provided through scriptures and latter-day prophets. Arguments can be made concerning the political governments among the Saints but the ultimate decisions should be made by the people. Employing scriptures to endorse a particular government system is not only dangerous but also misguiding. Opinions can still differ even though we believe in the same gospel.

7. God has given His children laws concerning fighting back and responding to threats. Some of these laws are eternal and some are of a temporary nature. There is a danger when one employ a scriptural story to support or disapprove a current event. For example, the fact the people of Alma refused to defend for themselves when the Lamanites attacked does not condemn those who decided to fight for their right. The fact that Limhi and his people did fight for themselves does not justify the notion to answer with swords. Until a clear instruction is given unto us through the proper priesthood channel one is entitled to believe as he pleases - as long as his conscience approves.

8. "The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men." 

9. Remember, not that everything happening in this life is the will of God. In some instances He merely "suffer" them to happen. The outcome of an event does not justify the nature or clarify the will of God concerning the event. It is dangerous, even heretical to suggest that the result defines the nature. While we are told to judge the tree by its fruits, it is a false doctrine that in this life all good causes will prevail. 

10. It is dangerous to use church terms in daily life without discretion. For example, according to True To The Faith, 

"Prophets speak of having a “firm hope” (Alma 34:41) and a “lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3). The prophet Moroni taught, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

When we have hope, we trust God's promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). Mormon taught that such hope comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41)."

Such hope should not be confused with the hope that we frequently mention in daily life. The hope that we mention in daily life is centered in the daily exercise that we do and the experience that we have accumulated - not necessarily in the Lord. To suggest that because we have faith in Christ we are to hope "in all things" literally is misleading and shows a lack of understanding of the principle of hope.

What do these mean?


One is obligated to do all that he can in order to achieve the will of God. We are to exercise our own free will and bring to pass the good things we are asked to do. The Lord has given us the right to do the things that we believed to be true and it is a duty for us to act according to our conscience. We might act differently and sometimes disagree with each other, yet this does not mean that one has erred. As President Faust suggested, "We do not lose our identity in becoming members of this church".While “truth is singular [and] its ‘versions’ are mistruths”, opinions can be justified with reasons.

Ryan Ka Shu Mok

Friday, October 3, 2014

Occupying Central Part 2: What You Need To Know Before Sharing Your Political View with Scriptural References

While we were discussing the current issue in Hong Kong, we read some posts on Facebook that members using scriptures/GC talks etc, any church-related materials to defend their views. We found it quite an interesting phenomena and we would like to do an experiment in showing how using scriptures/GC talks/Leaders’ words to defend a seemingly “truth” is not appropriate.


As Danise mentioned on her Facebook status, “research has suggested a theory of confirmation bias in which you follow your preference to search for information that confirms your view.” The sources we choose to support our personal view is not wrong in context itself. However, bias are inevitable when our minds are flooded by our personal views and cultural perceptions. Once we found those words/quotes that confirm our thought, they become the “truth” to ourselves. We should pay attention while using scriptures/GC talks/Leaders’ words in confirming our political views. The dangerous side is that we may use the “truth” we found in scriptures/GC talks/Leaders’ words to confirm our political “truth”. Scriptures/GC talks/Leaders’ words are supposed to use for teaching Gospel Principle – the eternal truth.

G.K.

This occupying central movement has been a wake up call for many. 
High school students armed with plastic wraps, raincoats, 
goggles, and umbrellas grasping at straws for democracy. 
I see hope, a hope that is reignited as citizens from all walks of life 
coming together defending the same cause. 
I see an undeniable failure when the brain washing 
"moral and national education” curriculum,
the culturally ingrained sense of conformity, 
and blind obedience fail miserably. 

Charles Dickens brilliantly depicted the paradoxical feelings at the
beginning of A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, 
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, 
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, 
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, 
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, 
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, 
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – 
In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its
noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.”


While being stuck in the Mormonland learning to be a social advocate,  
I do my very best to take my stand and actively participate.
Hours of monitoring the news, explaining the situation to people I know,
I feel absolutely exhausted with a robust schedule juggling 
school, work, and reading up on Hong Kong. 
What scares me the most isn’t the banner warning policing firing their weapon.
It was church members quoting scriptures,
supporting their political view.
“Facebook etiquette” is circulated among members which 
includes no disagreeing comments on other’s pages.


Granted their intention is great, preventing online disagreement 
turning into bible bashing, which backfire our public image.

Ironically, this is the very reason why high school students
are making a statement to the world.
Why do we seek pseudo-harmony (the absence of conflict)
and trade in our voices? 

This is the problem I see when the collectiveness of the Chinese
culture mixing and singling out 1 gospel principle.
Normally, it’s perfect for regular worship setting. 
When we are given a topic, for example on the Holy Ghost,
I focus on my search on related doctrine and quotes which is 
perfectly fine because they are all truths, gospel truths.

However, it goes downward spiral if the same method is employed
in a political debate. It’s okay to have different views and I hope
we have different views. The fact that different voices are appreciated
is exactly why we fight for democracy. What creeps me out is people
misquote scriptures and talks to strong arming people to ally with.
It stifles communication, healthy critical thinking, and distort the political
neutrality nature of the Church. Remember, the gospel is a holistic whole
a transformation, a conversion that not only changes a single behavior
or thoughts but our whole way of being. 


Please don't cherry pick principles of the gospel. 

K.D.

Occupying Central Part 1: What Does The Scripture Say About It?

To support the movement:

I don’t know how you feel, my brethren and sisters, but I’d rather be dead than to lose my liberty. I have no fear we’ll ever lose it because of invasion from the outside. But I do have fear that it may slip away from us because of our own indifference, our own negligence, as citizens of this land. And so I plead with you this morning that you take an active interest in matters pertaining to the future of this country.
Ezra Taft Benson – BYU Devotional – 1952 December

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10

And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.
Alma 53:17

The whole chapter of Alma 60, especially:
Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country. And thus I close mine epistle.
Alma 60:36


To support 689 (The Government) 

Article of Faith 12
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.


Doctrine and Covenants 134:5

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

Doctrine and covenants 58: 21-22

Let no man think he is ruler; but let God rule him that judgeth, according to the counsel of his own will, or, in other words, him that counseleth or sitteth upon the judgment seat.

Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

Alma 4:16
And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.

3 Nephi 11:29

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 

Doctrine and Covenants 10:63

And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.


Alma 37:31

Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe. 

Fully confused?? Now proceed to part two and you will know why. 

G.K. & K.D.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A God of Equal Rights; A God of Love

This week I was at the Provo Temple with a friend attended a sealing 
session. The session happened to be officiated by a hilarious and
talkative sealer who took the time to pause and taught us the promise
blessings of the sealing ordinances and personal applications. 

He paused and indicated something
I’ve never noticed from the blessing of children being sealed to
parents. Due to the sacred nature of the ordinance, the best I can do
is summing up how the prayer specifically indicated identical
blessings for those who are sealed to their parents later on in life are
the same comparing to  those those who are born into the covenant. 

“He’s a loving Heavenly Father; a God of equal rights and a God of
love.” Said the wise sealer.

I WAS IN AWE...…

Coming from an interfaith family, I used to feel like the black sheep.
My circumstance has made a huge difference in my life than my
peers such as not being able to get baptized at the age of 8, my
father’s objection to attend BYU or serve a mission, the need of other
priesthood bearers offering priesthood blessings, etc…. It’s really
hard on me as a kid. 

Two weeks ago, I got to share a related experience attending Church
in Heber City, Utah as the teacher struggled with the same sense of
inadequacy. I struggled through my first transfer on my
mission realizing I had a hard time bearing witness and teaching
eternal family because I wasn’t in one. I felt really ashamed standing
in the shadow of the Salt Lake Temple and just had the most
inadequate feeling. I prayed frequently and studied fervently hoping I
could gain a testimony of eternal marriage before having my own.

It wasn’t necessary what I studied but the connections and
associations I was making that eventually connected the dots.
Gradually, I realized it didn’t matter what stages we were at in the
plan of salvation; what matter was that we were progressing, even
one step towards Christ. That I could bear witness of because I knew
and have felt the unconditionally love of God and the power of the
atonement. 

Instead of sharing my own family stories, I began to talk about my
aspiration and hope of one day obtaining the blessings of having an
eternal family of my own. 

That’s why I still feel strongly about this topic and often speak up in
any Church settings. It isn’t because I am radical or against temple
marriage but my “allergic reaction” towards judgmental and shaming
attitude towards our fellow children of God who perhaps progress at a
different pace or choose differently. 

I am grateful for my mother’s sacrifices and faithfulness even when
other members trying to take over her job being my mother just
because they’ve been married in the temple. Although we are not
sealed as a family, I know Heavenly Father loves us and knows our
circumstances perfectly to sort this out one day. Before that, I am
banking on my faith in Him trusting things will work out as He has my
best interest. That’s what faith is all about, right?

K.D. 




Friday, August 15, 2014

Is Suicide A Choice?

Reading about the death of Robin Williams was difficult. Patch 
Adams, Good Will Hunting are movies that inspire me to practice
counseling. He was an outstanding actor and his performance has
touched the hearts of many. 

But today I read a Christian blogger’s post with a title like this.
“Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease; it was his choice.”

I was furious beyond measure, not just for the heartless discussion on
depression and suicide but also the insensitive comment shaming and
blaming those tho struggle with mental illness. 

So here I am.
I want to talk about the unspeakable.

As Mormons we often speak if the idea of agency. It is true that
God has given us this precious gift, coupled with the atonement for
our learning and progression. Volunteering with minorities for the past
year has led me to a new understanding of agency, a difficult one. 

What if we don’t know or can’t see all the options that are available?

I’ll give you a real example.
Few months back, I was dealing with a troubling situation. At first, I
thought I was doing okay to handle it by myself but I was in trouble.
Whenever I was in the environment with the the people who hurt me
and caused the whole incident, I began to be very anxious. I had
nightmares. I had flashbacks. I would sweat like if I were in the gym
and shivered. (classic PTSD)

I was absolutely scared and felt hopeless. It was a very dark place
and I couldn’t get out.

Thanks to the support of great friends, I recognized those red flags
myself and I sought help. Some in the position to help moved me out
of the situation immediately. Some offered a safe space to talk and
cry. Some comforted me with kind words of hope. Some fed me
chocolate and ice-cream.

Had I always seen a way out?
NO! 
I would have never survive this rough time without the help of all
those who stood with me and bore my burden.

Now let’s talk about suicide.
Do people have a choice clearing knowing they are choosing to end
their life?

I don’t know and neither do you.
That’s why I am very thankful for a merciful God who judges us and a
Savior who stands as an advocate with the Father. (D&C 45:3)
What goes on in the mind of someone who struggles with mental
health is complex. 

While we don’t encourage people to choose suicide as a way out,
let’s do something that you and I can do.

Let’s take out the stereotypes, the stigma, the judgement, the
insensitivity that are preventing them to see.
Let’s be supportive and encouraging for those who fear to seek help.

Is suicide a choice?
I don’t know.
All I know is that suicide is a tragedy.



To the men who inspired me to be an empathetic counselor.















K.D.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Every Star is Different

Let it be known that I love Vic 1 primary :)

I would have never imagined growing to love these little people so
much just by watching them singing their hearts out each Sunday. It
has been a very special experience for me transitioning from wards
and moving on from difficult experiences.

Sitting behind the piano, with shaky hands, I nervously watched
the cutest humans blurting out familiar lyrics—

“Ev'ry star is diff'rent,
And so is ev'ry child.
Some are bright and happy,
And some are meek and mild.
Ev'ry one is needed
For just what he can do.
You're the only person
Who ever can be you.

I smiled.
Tears began to blur my vision.

How true is that everyone of us are meant to be different. I carefully
observed their little bodies and how hard they tried expressing
themselves via music. One little girl, with bright hazel eyes and two
high pigtails (just like Boo in Monsters Inc.), staring at the music
leader with the most paranoid, doubtful look. A little boy, with the
cutest apple cheeks, calmly and softy singing with a big sweet smile.
Another energetic little boy, who has the amazing ability to charge
from 0 to 100 % energy in seconds, zealously hammering out each
word. 

They make me laugh and I love them all. 
These wise little people remind me of a tough battle I am fighting. It is
not easy to choose what God has planned for me over cultural and
social norms. Many kind and gracious people reach out and have
helped me along the way and some chose to cast stone, calling out
judgement in the name of love. It is not easy to feel personhood in a
collective culture. 

It really hurts. 

Because you can’t go show everyone your patriarchal blessings
convincing them that you are just trying your best to live up to the
Father’s expectations. Sometimes the best show-and-tell is when you
just remain firm and steady, reaching your goal, and be truly content
with your achievements.

It’s a nerve-racking experience packing up and getting ready to move
across the world. However, I’ll remember these cute primary kids
confidently showing their uniqueness and remind myself that
Heavenly Father loves me very much.


So much that He has pointed me to the road less travelled by. 

K.D.