Are Mormons a â€œmyopicâ€? people? The historian Richard Poll first suggested the possibility in an article on Mormon personality published many years ago.
By myopic, Poll meant something like detached and removed from the larger world outside our daily routines. Mormons, he said, are, by and large, â€œuninterested and uninformed about the problems of the world beyond the valley [that is, the Salt Lake Valley] and apathetic in the discharge of our civic responsibilities.â€? For support, Poll cited anecdotal evidence from his BYU classes and his own work within the Provo community.
Pollâ€™s main point was to rally Mormons to political activism, but it is his explanation for Mormon myopia that interests me. In a brief aside, Poll implied that Mormons are apathetic because they believe the world is doomed. Societyâ€™s institutions will inevitably fail, many Mormons say, as they point to the instances of moral decay they see around them. This apocalyptic mentality, according to Poll, keeps Mormons from throwing themselves into the weighty problems that exercise most college campuses and legislative hallways. Mormons would rather sit back and watch for the â€œsigns of the timesâ€? than enter the gritty details of world politics. What is the point in investing all the effort if destruction awaits at the end?
Do T&S readers think something like Mormon myopia exists? Are Mormons less likely to read newspapers, to vote, to have well-thought-out opinions, to look for solutions to big problems. Is the myopic portrayal fair?
Personally I think evidence exists on both sides of the ledger, but I would like to hear what others think.