Have we... slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views?
Elder Robert S. Wood gave one of my favorite General Conference talks in April of 2006 called “Instruments of the Lord’s Peace”. Finally, a talk on politics! I highly recommend that you read or listen to the entire talk on the Church’s website. Here's an excerpt:
We appear to be living in an era in which many are speaking without thinking, encouraging emotional reactions rather than thoughtful responses. Whether it be on the national or international stage, in personal relations or in politics, at home or in the public forum, voices grow ever more strident, and giving and taking offense appear to be chosen rather than inadvertent. Have we... slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground? It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views.
Robert Wood comes at this from a unique perspective. As the dean of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College and an advisor to several U.S. presidents and defense secretaries, he knows Washington politics up close.
Elder Wood’s conference talk was the final push that I needed to get this book underway. That book is called How Can You Possibly be a Mormon and a Democrat? and it is now available on Amazon, at Deseret Book, and various independent LDS bookstores in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Costco (see below).
The following excerpt from that talk helped me solve the primary problem of finding someone write the liberal/Democrat perspective on each issue.
Behold, a thought experiment: to taking upon yourself the opposite view, arguing from that perspective using arguments that the person with that view would accept, rather than building up a straw man. In essence, the book I have written is my own personal homage to that simple mental exercise recommended by Elder Wood and his professor.I recall that as a graduate student I wrote a [negative] critique of an important political philosopher. My professor told me that my paper was good, but not good enough.
"Before you launch into your criticism," she said, "you must first present the strongest case for the position you are opposing, one that the philosopher himself could accept."
I redid the paper. I still had important differences with the philo-sopher, but I understood him better, and I saw the strengths and virtues, as well as limitations, of his belief. I learned a lesson that I’ve applied across the spectrum of my life.