I was really saddened on Sunday when our Bishop got up to give a talk and the main premise of it was that people in the ward need to let go of their petty grievances and quit being offended. He spoke of the amount of time that he spends trying to mediate between two parties, and how that takes away from the time he should be spending on the spiritual welfare of our ward.
To have the "father" of a ward feel the need to get up in front of his congregation and chide them for such pettiness is disheartening. What makes it worse is that our ward is made up of only 15 or so families- and many of them are inter-related.
You would think that in such a small ward, there would be a spirit of unity and love. I guess not. Although almost everyone comes across as friendly on the surface, hearing a talk like this has me wondering who I can trust to be a true friend. Who will accept me for who I am, without judging me or talking behind my back? Being made aware of the situation is making it harder for me to even try reaching out.
I'm sure the Bishop meant well when he spoke about this situation. What better way to have all the guilty parties listen all at once, right? But the doubt and ambivalence he engendered in me will be lasting. I now look at many of the people differently. I wonder if so-and-so is one who will get offended if I say the wrong thing. Should I ever give my opinion, and if so, which topics are okay to touch on, and which ones aren't? I know I over-analyze everything and I'm probably perfectly safe just being myself, but those seeds of doubt have been sown. Now I have the additional burden of trying to forget what I've been told and trying to see everyone through the eyes of a newcomer- one who doesn't know anyone's past and who can accept everyone on face value.
So be careful of what you say. Even when it's justified or seems necessary. Sometimes it's worth the extra time it takes to deal with people and situations one by one than to risk involving an entire group, a group who might otherwise have been oblivious and happily doing their best to do just what you wanted- accept and love others and not worrying about having differing opinions.
(And this is not to say that I dislike our Bishop at all. I think he's a great guy who has to deal with more drama than he should have to. I support him in what he's trying to accomplish, even if I can't agree with the method he chose this one time.)