Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Teenager worries about her "standards" while studying in Spain...

I wasn't going to post again today, but I ran across today's Dear Abby column and felt the need to opine about it.  The first letter in today's column is from a teenaged girl who has an "amazing opportunity to travel to Spain" as an exchange student next year.  The young lady writes that she knows she's "lucky" to get to go, but she worries about upholding her "standards" while she's studying abroad.

You see, our fair maiden is a Mormon girl...  and that has apparently made her xenophobic.  She writes, "I am scared about the people there."  She worries that having to live alone in a "non-Mormon" environment will sway her to a lifestyle full of sin and debauchery.

I kid about this poor girl, whose fears I am sure are entirely real to her.  It's not easy living far away from home, especially when you're a teenager.  Mormonism is a culture that evidently brainwashes its youth into thinking that people not within the group are corrupted somehow and will tempt them into a life of wickedness.  It's okay to live abroad if you're going as a missionary to convert other people to your religion.  And it's okay to live abroad if you want to study abroad.  Watch who you hang out with, though, because people who drink coffee, tea, and alcohol and smoke cigarettes will tempt you to the dark side.  Before you know it, you'll be swearing and wearing spaghetti straps and hot pants, tempting young Spanish lads with your lusciousness and letting them pass you around like a roughly handled rosebud.  By the time the year is up, you'll be deflowered by some randy Spanish youths...

Sorry... getting carried away again.

Teenagers are not known for their maturity and this young lady has no doubt been warned by her leaders about all the worldly people out there waiting to corrupt her.  She worries so much about upholding her religious standards that she has to write to Dear Abby, whom I hope was stifling a laugh as she typed her reply.  She did tell the girl to keep an open mind and discuss her concerns with her host family.  That's not bad advice, but I would take it a few steps further and point out to the lass that most of the world consists of people who are not LDS. Spain is a wonderful country and there is so much to see and do there.  Yes, they do things there that are not allowed in the LDS church.  But many Americans also do those things and most of them aren't on the road to Hell.

I suppose the main thing that worries this girl is that she won't be in an environment where there's a lot of peer pressure and parental input keeping her from having off limits fun.  That means she might be tempted to try things like coffee, tea, alcohol, cigarettes, or maybe even masturbation.  If she tries them, she might like them.  If she likes them, she might become "addicted".  Addiction seems to be the one thing that many Mormons fear most.  They speak of alcohol, drug, and porn addictions as if all you have to do is try one once and you'll be hooked.  You'll end up a wounded warrior on the battleground of sin... waiting for your friends, roommates, or loved ones to straighten you out... or at least rat you out to your bishop.  They don't seem to understand that the vast majority of people can have fun without going overboard... though I will admit that certain illegal drugs probably should never be tried once.

If she can overcome her fears, I suspect the young lady who wrote to Dear Abby will have a great year in Spain.  I hope she will learn a lot of new things and enjoy a new culture that is far older and much richer than our own.  I hope that she will try something new that teaches her that she has nothing to fear outside of the Mormon bubble.  In fact, there's a whole exciting world out there waiting to be discovered.  I hope her time abroad will help her to appreciate that fact, even if she does have "standards" to uphold.  I also hope she learns how to be a real friend to someone without allowing her religion to ruin everything.  And I truly hope she doesn't decide to turn anyone into a conversion project.

Seriously... of all the things to be worried about.  I will never understand why church is so freakin' important to some people.

On the other hand...  this guy seems a bit touched.


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