Sunday, October 28, 2012

No Comment

As I start blogging, I do so with some trepidation. Normally blogs have some sort of comment feature. The purpose behind such a feature is to have readers leave behind thoughtful comments. In reality, however, comments on most blogs that I have read are ignorant, hate-filled, and incoherent diatribes.

I am not the only one to notice the problem. Arthur Brooks in his book, Gross National Happiness, asks why ideologues are happy: “The most plausible reason is religion—not real religion, but rather, a secular substitute in which they believe with perfect certainty in the correctness of their political dogmas. . . . True political believers are martyrs after a fashion, willing to shout slogans in public for causes they are sure are good, or against causes they are convinced are evil. They are happy because—unlike you, probably—they are positive they are right.”[1] Brooks notes that true political believers tend to consider themselves happy but they delight in making those around them unhappy. “The unhappiness created by happy people with extreme political views extends far beyond those stuck behind them in traffic and exposed to their bumper stickers. There is evidence that people with extreme views affect everybody adversely, because they are less compassionate than average, less honest, and less concerned for others.”[2] They want to stir like-minded people to action. “In the extremist’s mind, it’s good if you get angry.”[3] But is it?

The Book of Mormon, as usual, has some interesting commentary on the subject. The letter of Mormon to his son Moroni preserved in Moroni 9 contains some of the most depressing passages in scripture: descriptions of the barbarous practices of the Nephites who “only a few years” previously had been “a civil and a delightsome people” (Moroni 9:12). One cause of the depravity was that “Satan stirreth them up continually to anger one with another” (Moroni 9:3). This is one reason why I am not overly enthusiastic about comments.

[1] Arthur C. Brooks, Gross National Happiness (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 34.
[2] Brooks, Gross National Happiness, 37.
[3] Brooks, Gross National Happiness, 35.