Okay, so I am an editor at BYU-Idaho’s campus newspaper, The Scroll. It is probably the best job I’ve ever had and has helped me grow as a writer in so many ways. My respect for journalism and those that pursue it has also grown immensely as I participate in this program. This week I read a story that, along with my classes has profoundly effected my thinking. I’ve known domestic abuse was an issue in Rexburg, and even saw the police intervene during a domestic dispute. Yet, this recent Scroll article reminded me that even in a cozy little town like Rexburg still exist. I’m not going to pretend to be shocked, to pretend that Mormons should know better. Sad experience teaches us the domestic crimes know no boundaries. It exists in all races, creeds, religions, and ethnicity. It is a shameful product of human weakness, that in my opinion is inexcusable. I want to be sensitive. I think our society has lost something of a sense of violence and it’s detrimental effects. Whether one witnesses a murder, participates in a war, or is party to domestic abuse in the home, violence is NOT fun. There is no glory in hurting anyone, yes there is a feeling of power of control that can be seductive, but it is an empty illusion. I do not want to make comparisons here, but I recently studied the Holocaust and Nuremberg Trials in my Modern European history, and one thing has stuck with me. How can men, many of them brilliant even conceive and perpetrate such cruel acts towards others? How does one human being derive pleasure from the pain and anguish of another. I know I am not qualified to answer such question, nor is the answer simple. But these questions are certainly worth considering even when pondering the issue of domestic abuse. Though I’m sure a psychologist can offer a more qualified opinion, have been recently married I understand better than before the difficulties of marriage. I see now, that living with another person can be the hardest experience of one’s life. But with effort it can also be the most rewarding. I think we need to be careful saying the women are marrying too early, and the fault lies entirely in LDS/BYU-Idaho culture. I know plenty of couples that get married quickly and early in life who make it through challenges without violence. No violence is an individual act, a choice that can be influenced by outside forces but is ultimately our own fault. The root of domestic abuse problem is the abusers, not the abused. One is just as susceptible to finding an abused spouse later in life than early. Caution should be exercised by women of every age, not just among 19-year-olds considering marriage. Men should also exercise caution, because believe or not abuse can happen to them as well.
I think in the end though, what’s most important is our own attitude toward others. It is our attitude toward marriage. Everyone is ready at different times and in different ways. But most of all in considering marriage, consider you are not your own. Marriage is not a selfish business, it is not about personal gain or prestige. Wives are not objects, and neither are men! People are not property, they are not toys, and we must remember this. All human beings must learn to see all life as precious, valuable, and worth-while. Maybe you’re not religious but we are still one big human family. All of us, brothers and sisters because the trouble happens when we separate ourselves. It happens when we favor groups of people over another. Violence is what happens when you turn your spouse into a combatant, or a subordinate, someone to be conquer. It is not just about equality in the law, but in our hearts. To value others as fellow human beings, not just as pets, enemies or objects.
I believe that human beings have a divine potential. In fact, I know this because so many of my acquaintances demonstrate this on a daily basis. There is something beautiful and divine with each us, a potential for greatness regardless of what category we might fall into. Nothing has been greater blessing to me than my wife. I love her more than I can express most of the time. Violence against her is never an option, although that can be hard sometimes in moments of frustration, we can overcome ourselves if we want to.
I know that domestic violence is not something we can fix over night, and its not something the law can fix. But our personal attitudes and choices can prevent violence from ever being acceptable in our own homes. I’m not saying shut out all outside influences and live in a box, but we need to be careful. We are surrounded by violent messages in the media especially. Even the heroes in movies and television promote and glorify behavior that is degrading and brutal.
All I ask for is awareness. Awareness that domestic violence is a problem, especially here in Rexburg, Idaho. Remember that all us have worth. Not matter who we are all sons and daughters of a loving God. We cannot afford to treat our brothers and sister like this. We must love them, and in doing so the world will be a better place.
I also highly recommend Victoria Loveland’s incredible article in the Scroll. I’ll post the link later today when it is posted online.