Monday, September 15, 2014

LDS Perspectives on the S-Word



by Richard Tait:


I was raised in an orthodox Mormon home where some words were forbidden by family members of all ages. The S-word was one of them. However, since we are all modern, Mormon, and manly here, I thought it the perfect venue to explore alternative aspects of … stupidity.

Stupidity in Marriage

WARNING: THIS IS A LEXICALLY EXPLICIT EXPLANATION OF HOW TO END AN ARGUMENT THAT MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUNG WIVES. MEN, PLEASE TEST THIS AT HOME BEFORE YOU TRY IT IN PUBLIC.

In my research on threads of stupidity that run through familial relationships, I have discovered a foolproof method of quickly and safely ending any argument with your wife. It consists of judicious application of three simple yet powerful words: "Because I'm Stupid." Here is how it works:

At sometime during your marriage relationship, possibly early on, you are going to do something stupid to really tick off your wife. It could be an act as simple as leaving dirty socks strewn across the living room, or as serious as totaling the minivan. Tensions will degenerate; harsh looks and words will fly recklessly between the both of you. Then your sweet mate, the wife of your eternities, will unleash the dreaded rhetorical question. This is a question that was never meant to be answered; its sole purpose is to trap you in a smelly pile of your own guilt, from which there is no escape. It usually comes out something like "Why do you NEVER pick up your smelly, filthy socks?" or, "What in the heck were you thinking when you ran into the back of that schoolbus?"

How do your wives expect you to respond to these questions? They are confident that you will vigorously try and defend yourself against their accusations, more often than not with a lame excuse like "the socks are same color as the living room carpet, so what's the problem?" or "don't worry - we have good car insurance and the bus was empty except for a few of those squirrely teenagers that have been causing problems in the neighborhood."

The lame excuses don't work; it's a sign that your wives have won. If they are going to win anyway (and they will, because smelly socks do NOT belong on the living room floor, and there really is NO EXCUSE for rear-ending a schoolbus), we should at least be able conclude the loss with creativity and flair. This is the point where, instead of the lame excuse, you respond with the three most disarming words in bilateral connubial dialogue: "because I'm stupid."

First, your stunned wives will respond with shock. They will not believe that you have actually fessed up to your stupidity. The silence will be deafening. It is critical at this stage that you quickly change the subject to a topic they care about before they recover. It won't take long before you are romantically holding each other and tearfully apologizing for words that weren't meant and shouldn't have been said.

Now, I have never hit an innocent schoolbus from behind, but I have left dirty socks around the house, and I can promise you that this strategy really works. However, there are some careful corollaries that must be considered:
  • Use it sparingly at first. It works so well that it is tempting to apply to almost any tight situation with your eternal partner, but frequent application leads to easy detection (our wives, unlike ourselves, are NOT stupid), which renders it meaningless. You'll find yourself faced with responses like "stupidity is no excuse for …"
  • Tender ears, especially in homes with small children, may be offended by the s-word. If this is the case, select a less threatening label – the favorite replacement in our house is "fathead" (pronounced "fahhey").
I'm not going to embarrass my wife here in the blogosphere by revealing how long it took her to figure out that she was the subject of a successful social experiment, but I will admit that "fahhey" has transformed into a term of endearment in our family.

Stupidity in the Gospel

Stupidity, according to a blend of several different Internet dictionaries, refers to acts committed foolishly, senselessly, or without reasonable forethought to consequences. It could be an action as trivial as botching a simple diaper change; a more serious blunder such as thoughtlessly throwing away all of your wife's Stake Relief Society records; or in more severe cases, an event as tragic as accidentally backing over your toddler wandering into the blind spot of your driveway, or unintentionally shooting your son on a final man-bonding hunting trip a few weeks before he was to depart on a mission. I mention these as examples only because I personally participated in the first two, and learned of the last two from a trusted ecclesiastical source. All these acts reflect various degrees of stupidity.

The Stupidity Antidote

An antidote is tersely defined as a medicine or remedy that counteracts the effects of a poison. Logic dictates then, that in the context of acting stupidly, a "stupidity antidote" would be an action or event that is able to counteract the ill effects produced by a stupid act. Note that by definition, an antidote can not ignore, cancel, or erase either the stupid action itself or the action's consequences; however, it confronts, or "counteracts," the consequences of stupidity with more welcome results.

The paragraphs above beg the question ... how wonderful would life be if there really was such an elixir or element as a "stupidity antidote" that transforms the caustic consequences of a thoughtless action into something more meaningful, perhaps even noble? The good news is that there is- in the Gospel of Jesus Christ we call it the Atonement. The ultimate beauty of the Atonement is that it covers all sins and sorrows, even those wrought from the depths of stupidity. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, stupid sinners become smart saints. Whether its the inconvenience of a leaky diaper, the embarrassed heart of a thoughtless husband, or even the indescribable agony of torturous regret ignited by a senseless, untimely death within the family, the Atonement offers an antidote for those ready to receive it. It can confront and counteract inconvenience, embarrassment, and agony with careful confidence, helpful humility, and hopeful relief.

So ... done anything stupid lately? Really stupid? Reach for the stupidity antidote. It's right up there in your heart, in the whisperings of the spirit that come from pondering the scriptures, your prayers, and wise counsel from church leaders and loved ones, somewhere between charity and faith - the Atonement.

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Richard Tait is the proud father of a married son enduring graduate school at ASU, and a beautiful YSA daughter at LDSBC. He has spent 27 of the best years of his life married to the same woman for almost 30 years. Richard writes for his own blog, Mormon Third Eye, where he talks about the Third Eye ... the notorious eye in the back of the head, or the extra view of life that God blesses parents striving to do the right thing with so they can see more of life than the children they chase after. Amazingly, Richard has missed only two Sunday posts in the past 360+ weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: JIMBO 105 (used with permission).

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