Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To my Mormon family and friends

I'd like to offer a couple apologies and an explanation to all my active Mormon friends and family. First off, I'm sorry for not clarifying better when I criticize the church that I love my Mormon friends and family but I don't love some things the church does. Even if you support those things I see as bad, I still love you. There is a definite and distinct difference in my view. I do not point out problems with the church to hurt you. I do it to help make the world a better place as I'll explain below. Although I'm not sorry for fighting for justice, equality, transparency, and honesty, I'm sorry that things I've said have hurt you because I don't want you to be sad. I do feel a strong need to fight for those morals and will continue to do so because I believe that doing so important.

An analogy to what I'm apologizing for would be like having a dad (my loved ones) that wanted me to be a part of his diary business (his church) like he and his fathers have been doing for years. Despite loving my dad, I hated how his business bought supplies from known child-labor companies (bad things the church does) and I wanted to be a doctor to save lives for my job instead of working for his company even if it didn't buy from those suppliers. I'd feel sorry for the hurt I caused my dad in wanting to do a different job, but wanting to help save lives and not take advantage of abusive child-labor are more important than going against my morals and life desires to make him happy in that one area. I do what I can to make him happy in other areas because I love him. I'd be sorry for the pain my decision caused him, but I would not be sorry for making the decisions I did.

I think a mutual understanding is beneficial here. You are hurt by the things I say about the organization you love and you feel that is directed at you for belonging to it. Please understand that it is not directed to you, but to the organization. I feel hurt because you can't see me as leaving the church and still be as good of a person. Thinking that the church has the ultimate truth makes it so that no matter what I give as my explanation, you ultimately see me deceived, weak or bad.

Furthermore, understand that my desire to point out the errors is my sharing my truth and is the same thing as you doing your member and full time missionary work. So please don't ask me to leave and leave it alone when you also can't leave the world (all other religions) and leave it alone (doing and supporting LDS missionary work). The double standard isn't fair. I think making an analogy that takes the emotions created by the religion out of the equation can help you understand my passion to speak out (If the analogy offends instead of thinking of ways it is admittedly imperfect, consider reasons why I would use it to understand me)...

Here's my crazy immigrant (leaving the church) story. I was born and grew up in North Korea (inside the church) in a town called Chikhalsi (Sandy), but known to the outside world as Pyongyang (Salt Lake City), our capital. If you know anything about my homeland, they control the media (don't tell the whole story of their history in Sunday School, seminary, institute), and information sources. (manuals, videos) so you only hear on the inside what they want you to hear (discourage learning from outside sources). They told us all growing up that our nation (Mormon lifestyle) was the best (happier, freer, healthier) compared to all others. I always wondered if this were true or not. Occasionally I'd see something (studies showing non-religious kids are kinder, drinking coffee makes you live longer) that made me think the rest of the world was doing better than I was told. More human rights (less racism, less sexism, apologies for past racism/sexism), more intellectual freedom, more equality, less bias against science, etc.

I loved my country (the church)! I learned in school (seminary, institute) the history of my country and my love for it (Mormonism) grew even more despite the fears it wasn't what I was told that were growing. There were some weird things (stories that didn't make sense here and there, but I figured if I learned more I'd eventually understand. I was always told that a feeling of national pride (spirit) would confirm that everything the government (church leadership and scriptures) said was true. While I definitely felt those feelings of national pride (feeling good when I did good) I never felt them when reading that my country was the best country ever (one true church). My feelings not matching with their explanations always bothered me and made me question them at times and feel like I was broken at other times.

Along comes the internet which is mostly filtered inside the country (encouraged to teach from church approved manuals and websites only) but I was able (emotionally willing) to go outside of the government limitations and get unfettered (documented sources, not sensationalized hyperbole) information. At first I thought it must be lies because it went against so much of what I'd learned growing up. I tried to point out these discrepancies and was told I was a liar. I tried to make a place in the country for people that didn't think it was the greatest country ever, but loved the people enough to want to stay but was told I had to be on board 100% . Eventually I suffered isolation and learned enough of the true history that it made me want to move out of the country (leave the church). After mentioning this to my wife who had read the same stuff and came to the same conclusions she agreed it wasn't healthy for us to stay anymore. One day after careful preparation we escaped (left the church)! After we left the country and seeing how happy we were the government took away our citizenship. Even after admitting we had only spoken the truth and had actually helped lessen the suffering of many that were in similar situations to our own. Because we said the government wasn't the greatest in the world (one true church of God) we couldn't be citizens any more.

Life in outside of North Korea really is so amazing!! The other day I got a call from my friends back in North Korea. They felt sad for me that I'd left the wonderful country of our heritage and couldn't understand how I could be so much happier with my spiritual, mental and emotional freedoms. They said I must be deceived by the outside world and they wouldn't believe my stories. I tried to explain this but they got very irritated and wouldn't listen, saying I've been fooled by the capitalist (non-Mormon world). They said even though they knew I was always honest, cared about others, did much more research about the country than them, that it didn't matter what I said because they felt good where they were and therefore didn't need to try to see if I was correct about them being happier outside the country. Some admitted that they couldn't try, even though they believed me, because they couldn't handle being rejected by family and friends like I had been rejected. It did made me very sad to be rejected, staying true to my integrity and gaining the other happinesses that I have greatly outweigh that negative!

What surprises me is that people who leave the country because they realize the truth never come back. Yeah, some people leave because they get lost in the woods (choose to leave for sin) and come back, but nobody ever goes back that comes to the same conclusions as me (the church is not true). Out of the thousands of people I know that have escaped, I know of two people that have gone back and both didn't change their mind about the country, they just wanted the community they had despite not agreeing with the country on what it said it was. I was shocked that the people on the outside couldn't see how no one returned as a sign that all of us that escaped were actually telling the truth. We had lived inside and understood them, but they hadn't lived outside and couldn't understand us so making judgments about us was unfair.

Because I love all my North Korean citizens, especially my friends and family that still live there, I occasionally send letters, drop fliers from planes in the air, send radio waves over the border to let them know what life is like on the outside and that they aren't getting the whole story. Hopefully, some of them will let their love for me and their knowledge that I was always an honest, truth seeking, diligently researching person on the inside, motivate them to try and hear my story despite the preconceived notions the country drilled into them about defectors.

Maybe what you should know is that there are a lot of people still inside the country that see what I've said as true but stay silent and remain inside out of fear. They've seen how the country and many citizens have treated me and it scares them to death. They can't imagine going through that pain so they choose silent suffering instead of dealing with the unkind isolation and rejection. Know that the country and many citizens are hurting more than just me.

So, hopefully the above analogy will help you understand why I speak out and not stay silent. Ironically, people often assume that leaving the church means I left my morals behind. My morals are fighting for equality, love, fairness and not hurting others. I will not back down from my morals even if it offends ones that I love. Compromising my integrity to lessen the offense fighting for those morals may cause is something I'm not willing to do. I am sorry that the things I do that hurt you, but please understand I don't do them to hurt you. I've literally had hundreds of people reach out to me and Marisa and say that we've helped them feel less isolated, more understood, less likely to get a divorce, less likely to commit suicide and suffer less in many ways that they have been suffering. Even if you disagree with my conclusions about the church, I hope that you care enough about human suffering to know that what I've done has helped lessen the suffering of thousands of people. Hopefully that will help you respect my desires for a better world even if you disagree on how to get there.

Much love, Carson


Anonymous said...

Better tone towards family but a poor analogy. You really think the church is comparatively as controlling as North Korea? You still seem to be playing the victim. You want to mock the church without offending members (bully the bully, as you have stated before)? You can't have it both ways, sorry. But this is improvement.

Carson Calderwood said...

Sorry Anonymous, but you are missing two very important points.

1-like someone said on my FB page, if you compare your wife to a rose does she understand the point you are making or does she get pissed that you think she has thorns, lives in the dirt and looks dead half of the year?

2-even if you think the analogy is poor, that doesn't matter. The point is trying to understand how I feel. This isn't about you bud. This is about me trying to express my feelings. Maybe if you'd get down from your holy throne you'd care enough about people to want to understand them instead of just telling them how they are wrong :-(

Anonymous said...

My dear, dear friend Carson,
I think your tribe has been very understanding of you despite how you've consistently and publicly ridiculed them, their beliefs and customs.

I don't think you would have very warm fuzzy feelings towards me if on my facebook page I was often mocking secular humanists, what they believe and how they act. Or if I only myopically focused on bias in science, or when scientists were unethical- instead of acknowledging the great good that science has brought to the world since the industrial evolution.

Carson Calderwood said...

Anonymous, apparently you can't tell the difference between ridicule and criticize. Similarly, you can't tell the difference between doing either to an organization and those who are a part of it. If I say I hate how the USA doesn't do something, does that mean everyone in the USA is an idiot? Of course not, apply the same logic to the church please. If you think I'm wrong, please point out where I ridicule the members and not the policies or doctrines...

I'm not asking for warm fuzzies so not sure why you're drawing that comparison. I'm letting family know that despite my love for them, I will continue to go against the church's hurtful policies and doctrines. Its to clarify that I'm not doing it to hurt them, I'm doing it despite how it hurts some of my family and friends. It doesn't hurt them all, many are differentiated emotionally enough to understand that and are not hurt at all. Since you will not say who you are, I must assume you are too enmeshed with the church to separate yourself from it when I say things towards the church. Not surprising though. The church breeds a very powerful enmeshment, something that mental health experts will say is not good.

Similarly, I'm not miopically focused on bias in the church. I say it does many good things. I just point out the bad as well. Something most members are too afraid to do because it comes with too much social costs.

So, I doubt we are dear, dear friends because I don't have any dear, dear friends that would have that many illogical statements, conclusions or inferences in two short paragraphs. My active LDS dear, dear friends know my story well enough to not say what you did.

Anonymous said...

Conveniently it's all documented, some on this blog and throughout your Facebook posts and comments. "Mormons gotta morm." "Mormons..." You are the one who called your soemtimes mocking posts "bullying."

Though you routinely claim the intellectual high ground, our heads may not be in the sand as much you imply. Many though definitely not all, realize the church is led by imperfect men, has a complicated history that tries our faith, and that there are many issues with church culture. We just come to different conclusions than you.

Remember, when all the attention and fanfare and attention of your excommunication are over and no one is asking you to talk on their podcasts; it will be your tribe that still is concerned for your well being.

Carson Calderwood said...

Definitely NOT a dear, dear friend. My close friends know that I don't like the spotlight that my excommunication has given me and that I do it out of a responsibility I feel to speak out for those that can't, that suffer silently from pressure people like you create against authenticity and openness.

"Mormons gonna Morm" was stated when someone (ironically, haha) sent me something anonymously in the mail. Maybe that was you, but alas, we can't know since that person and you are too scared to post/mail under your real name. Also, that phrase wasn't ridiculing, it was referencing a documented fact that Mormons are more passive aggressive than other cultures ( and that passive/aggressive behavior has picked up the phrase Morming. I was referencing that now oft used phrase people use to call out Mormon specific passive aggression.

So, waiting for evidence of my conveniently documented ridiculing as you have said. I'd like to know where I called my posts bullying. I think you may have misread what I wrote so please reference that.

I consider my position to be more than the intellectual high ground, I consider it the moral high ground. When people condone the new policy of isolating some children of gay parents and say they think it is the right thing to do all while also saying the church is lead by imperfect people but not standing up to those things done as imperfect men I feel you are trading your morals and your intellect for social convenience at the expense of your intuition. When do active, faithful Mormons that say they understand that the men are imperfect EVER do anything to show they see the brethren as doing things imperfectly? Tell me what you see as done incorrectly by these sometimes imperfect people and how you let them know that you thought what they did was less than perfect and I'll praise you for taking the moral high ground. Until then, you are not applying that idea uniformly across your Mormon experience, only post hoc on things that happened previously, never in the present, always in the past. Step up anonymous, to me and to the church!