Well, the Games are here. As Utahns, we’ve waited, we’ve skipped meals, we’ve built, we’ve watched the scandal, we’ve buried the scandal, we’ve gotten lots of snow and we’ve been the subject of all sorts of attention from the world’s media. We’ve seen our share already of heroes and goats. What happens during the next several weeks will in all certainty define Utah for decades to come. In the next few weeks we consummate our relationship with the world. We’ll soon know if the world consummates back.
It’s hard to tell who the next round of winners and losers will be. Certainly, the LDS church has much at stake—if nothing else, by reads of the national and international media, the church is as concerned about Utah’s wacky image as the next guy. Any softening of that image can be considered a win. But, even as folks who have never exactly set our sights on getting on the good side of anyone, it would have been nice if the “Molympic” thing had never arisen. It wouldn’t have if certain people had been truely embracing the Olympic spirit rather than conniving ways to capitalize on temporal ones. That’s all it took for publications like Newsweek to label our games the Molympics.
I get asked about the Mormon/non-Mormon rift nearly every day by visiting journalists. What does one say, really? On one hand, it’s a question of merit; on the other, it feels like someone is crawling around in your laundry basket. And they keep pulling out the same old sock. Well, that one and the liquor sock. Oh, and the polygamy sock. No one has pulled out the “how’s the snow?” sock. Having to continually defend why I live in Utah is quite annoying.
In any case, when asked about Mormons, polygamy or liquor, I’ve either evolved or devolved into an answer like this: We’re happy to host the world and we hope the best for the Games and for our city. Utah is my home and you couldn’t pry me away with a stick. As a non-Mormon, I know full well the spite some people hold for the LDS church. I personally don’t, and my late Mormon grandmother thanks me for that. However, I think some of its members are total screwballs, and unfortunately, some of those screwballs are very public and make law and policy here. The church should smack some of those people around, because....because they can.
You won’t see that happen though. You won’t see that even though the vast majority of Mormons qualify as a bunch of good people who are equally aghast at the behavior, statements and antics of some of their own. Utah is a beautiful state but one with many internal challenges, a priority of which is for the majority to become more appreciative of the minority. Too many Utahns are locked on the notion that what is good for the church is good for Utah. It should be the other way around.
Maybe by the end of this month it will be.