So I want to tell a story that is both interesting and enlightening. It is not intended to offend anyone but it might. It is meant to be informative and helpful. Yesterday one of my close friends gave me a call and asked if I wanted to go with him to the Angels game down in Anaheim, about a 2 hour drive with no traffic and 4 with bad traffic. It took us 3 so whatever. It was a good chance to spend time with a good friend, something I rarely do but we had a great time and his Orioles team won 9-3.
Anyhow, at some point during our 12 hour trip (we left 6 hours before game time) he told me about an experience he had while travelling to Utah to visit his son, who recently got married. At some point during his trip he took the time to play a round of golf at Hobble Creek. I believe it was a weekday so there was no crowd and he headed out on his own. Near the end of his round he caught up to another guy who was playing by himself and subsequently invited him to finish the last 4 or 5 holes together. After they had finished, my friend learned that this man was a retired major league baseball player who was visiting to drop his daughter off at the MTC. His wife and daughter were shopping or something so he decided to play golf, which he does regularly. As they were about to finish the last hole, the man asked my friend if he wanted to play another nine, so they did. Apparently this man liked my friend well enough to want to spend more time talking with him.
During the next nine holes they talked about a lot of things. This gentleman said his family were members but he was not. He attended church with them and liked the teachings and the family unity aspect of it all. He also liked his smokeless tobacco (something he may have picked up during his baseball career) and that was an issue with his joining the church currently, but it became obvious to my friend that he was a good man. He told his younger son that if he served a mission he could baptize him when he got back. Then, he proceeded to share some things about the people and culture of Utah valley, as he had visited there many times over the course of the last decade. He said that people seemed to show interest and try to befriend him when they found out that he was a former major league player, but not until then. They wanted to associate with him AFTER they found this out, not before. It was disconcerting to him. He was reluctant to tell my friend about what he did for a living (he is still involved with baseball) because of this but recognized that this fact wasn’t important to my friend. As a result of this my buddy has a new friend that he regularly texts and communicates with. Did I forget to mention that this gentleman is african american? I believe that fact probably influenced his experiences as well.
One of these days, years or decades (hopefully) this will not be the case when he visits utah valley. I remember myself when I attended BYU back in the late 80’s, the dislike and bias for kids from California was palpable. I don’t feel it is an issue now but it was disconcerting to me in many ways… not only as a member of the church but as a human being too…
I know it isn’t like this with everyone but it is still way too common and effects others in a negative way… and coming from areas where there is a high population of members of the church, it is bothersome and frankly wrong. I know everyone can do better.
I hope that story is helpful to all of us.