As a member of a worldwide church with lots of converts, surely you know the answer to this. Of course people with pioneer heritage aren’t better than other people! That just can’t be true. And yet . . . I kind of think some people do believe this.
Just so there will be no questions, I come from good pioneer stock—even somewhat “famous” pioneer stock. (Is it the suffering our the dying that makes a pioneer famous? Hard to say.) My husband, technically, doesn’t. I wish I could say that I’m more committed, spiritual, hearty, long-suffering, strong, or good at walking, but I’m not. And I know plenty of pioneer descendants that are rude, fat, depressed, boring, lazy, and inactive. So what does it mean to come from good pioneer stock? It is certainly an advantage to have a heritage of commitment in your family. But there are all kinds of commitment.
I’ve been thinking about this since I heard the most moving and sincere talk I’ve heard for a very long time. A man who married his high school sweetheart and never went on a mission gave it in Sacrament Meeting a few weeks ago. I hate to admit that while I never actually articulated any kind of prejudice against him, subconsciously I may not have considered him a real spiritual heavyweight. Do you know what I mean? I think I just made myself sound like a jerk. Really, I’m not—I come from good pioneer stock, remember? Anyway, their family has quite a story of conversion and commitment which was very moving and inspiring—just as inspiring as eating shoe leather. It gave me pause.
Even though I do, technically, come from good pioneer stock, I grew up in a partially active family. Those of us who were active were very active and I felt really normal. I was surprised when a friend of mine mentioned that his mother warned him not to marry me because of my family. Would you warn you sons against me? That makes me feel bad. I thought I was a pretty good catch.
On a different but strangely related side note, my recent involvement in boundary changes within our school district has made me aware or some other hierarchies. It is surprising (and frankly pretty racist) to hear real people in the year 2008 say “we don’t want them here” or “we wouldn’t be caught dead there.” It’s so weird! I always thought there weren’t really any bad parts of town in Provo. I sort of wish there were because then it would be more like TV. As it turns out, there are bad parts of town—or at least, less good. It kind of surprised me to realize that that some of my friends in high school maybe thought they were slumming by hanging out with me. They probably thought I was really poor!
But the thing is, everyone can’t live on the east end of town. And even if we could, there would still be people in Salt Lake who think we’re hicks no matter where we live in Utah County. And frankly, if you live anywhere halfway decent in California you probably think you’re better than any of us here in Utah. So you can’t win. I say—why buy into it?