Proposition 8

Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Like most LDS guys, I was excited to get my mission call and help others understand what has brought so much happiness and love to my life. I remember the day I got my mission call and everyone asked the typical question we all get: “Where would you want to go?”, and like any other pre-missionary, I gave the typical “Wherever the Lord sends me, I’ll be happy,”…but then I would add that I really want to go to Los Angeles!

I’m not sure why I said Los Angeles, to be honest; I think I wanted to serve where I could still see a beach and feel the comfort of feeling like being back home living by a Florida beach. Or maybe it was because I thought going to LA would feel like serving a foreign mission, but with the comforts of living in the States.

The time came when I opened my mission call, and as I read the call, anticipating where I will be going, where I will be living for 2 years, I read “You will be serving in the Los Angles California Mission, bilingual-speaking”! I could not believe it! I was actually going where I wanted to go! But little did I know, I was about to go through something that no missionary ever expects to experience.

The first year of my mission was amazing! The first area I served in was Manhattan Beach. I felt the comfort of feeling like I was still at home and I served in an area where I came to love the members and the people I met. I met one of my favorite people (Dede), who is to this day a blessing in my life. I got to meet people from all around the world, as I was transferred to different parts of LA and I felt like I was having the best time of my life, like I always dreamed a mission would be.

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I was on Cloud 9 about a year into my mission. It was then that we started hearing things at church meetings about something called Proposition 8. As missionaries, we have no connection to the world; we don’t watch TV, listen to music, call home (we could email family once a week and call home twice a year), so we had no idea what Prop 8 was about. Little did I know this was about to change my mission as I had known it.

The Church that year took a rare stance and encouraged members of the Church to actively promote and drive votes to pass Prop 8. For anyone who needs more details on Proposition 8, you can check out Google ;).

As missionaries, we are constantly out knocking doors, talking to people on the streets, dressed up in church clothing with a tag that states that we are missionaries for the LDS church. If you ask most non-LDS people, they recognize who we are and which church we’re part of, because they’re used to seeing young missionaries like us with our white shirts and ties. During the debate on Prop 8, our attire became a target, our white shirts made us stand out, and we became the face of the church on the streets on LA.

Let me paint a picture for you on being a missionary in Los Angeles during Prop 8. Imagine seeing members of the Church on street corners with signs supporting Prop 8, and watching other people stopping at those street corners to pick fights with members.

Imagine walking the streets as a young missionary and being spit at, getting cussed out, and having random strangers yell at you as if you had just murdered their child. Mind you, missionaries are not involved with any political activism. Your job is just to teach people about Christ, and we really didn’t have any personal involvement with Prop 8; we couldn’t even vote for or against it, so we had little to no involvement and little knowledge of what was actually happening.

I was really becoming angry at what was going on, I didn’t understand how people that didn’t support Prop 8 could quickly be so nasty and vicious to us missionaries. Weren’t they supposed to be spreading love and acceptance for all? Weren’t they suppose to be fighting for human rights? Yet, as a human being myself, I felt like I was a target, that I was being discriminated against in a violent way.

Missionaries in Los Angeles were encouraged to keep knocking doors and continue to live by our regular schedules.

I remember feeling so upset about hearing that someone I knew in my church owned a restaurant in LA, and people from the gay community found out that she had given money to support Prop 8. They were determined to destroy her business. They rioted outside of her restaurant so people wouldn’t go in, and her business nearly failed. I could go on and on about hearing stories like this one, and some people might think I’m making it up, or that I’m retelling a story from a crazy book; it’s all true.

One day as we were knocking on doors, a man answered the door and said, “Hey, elders,” and he was very pleasant, something that was becoming very rare. As we were talking to him, he explained that he was a gay man living such a lifestyle. Right away, I wanted to run, and I thought, “I knew this was too good to be true.” He went on to say, “Don’t worry, most of us in the gay community are not like those in the gay community that give us a bad name.”

This really caught me off guard, because in my mind at the time, I had a very different perception of those in the gay community. All I was seeing is aggression, violence, and riots outside of our temple. We had a very pleasant discussion with this man about respect, free agency, and how it is important to find common ground during times like these. It completely changed the way I viewed the situation.

As we all know, there has been much debate and many arguments on the Supreme Court decision making gay marriage legal in all states. Although I have my beliefs and I experienced the some of the worst things possible during my mission, I believe that it’s now time to stop fighting each other and start mutually showing respect for each others’ beliefs and focus on what brings us together, not what sets us apart.

This is what makes America such an amazing country. We still believe in free agency. We are a nation that believes you can live your life the way you want to, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect another person. I can be a Hispanic Mormon and you can be gay, and there are can still be love and respect.

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This is what I propose. Let’s come together as a country and focus on the positive impacts we can have in this world. Let’s come together to fight things such a world hunger, AIDS, our struggling economy, come together to ensure the preservation of our freedoms and safety for the future generations. It makes me sad to think about how much people are suffering in this world, and I think that if we focus on what brings us together more than what makes us different that the world would be a better place.

I think I will leave the judging to God and strive to live a full life by coming together with people from all walks of life to try and make this world a better place. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to not agree on issues, but what I propose is a world where all sides have an opportunity to live their lives as they choose and not being afraid to be persecuted for doing so. I hope that my Modern Perspective can shed a little bit of positivity and love in this world.

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Life Outside the Box

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They say that secrets don’t make friends, but I always like to say they make best friends. So let’s become best friends and let me tell you a secret. You ready? Remember it will be just between us…

There was a time in my life where I allowed negative perceptions of me control how I lived. Skies had limits because I was told since I was poor that it would be harder to get ahead in life, I was bullied at school because of how I walked so I had low self-esteem (my legs were ran over as a child so I had years of discomfort) and I was told that I should change my last name if I ever wanted to get ahead in life (I will get ahead in life because of my hard work and drive)

My message today is one of breaking free from something I like to call the “Box” and I want it to be loud and clear after you read this article that IT IS OK TO LIVE OUTSIDE THE BOX!

Meaning, it’s ok to let go of all of the misconceptions people have of you, preconceived notions of who others think you are, and feel free to move on from any past mistakes in order to see yourself as an amazing human being that has the power to change the world for the better!

Unfortunately, we live in a society where some people decide to put us in “boxes”, which creates limits to what we believe we can achieve. For instance, have you ever been told that you can’t do something or that you weren’t good enough? Have you ever been held back because you subconsciously allowed someone else’s false perception become your reality?

I wish I could sit in a room with you right now and go over all of the boxes that are preventing you from being your best self. I would ask you to write down these words in huge letters: “IT IS NOW TIME TO LET GO OF ALL THAT IS HOLDING ME BACK AND EMBRACE ALL THAT AWAITS ME”.” Although it is easier said than done, crushing the box begins as a simple, conscious decision in our minds to stop allowing negative opinions control who we are. That is the foundation to a life of achievement and success.

I remember when this point really hit home for me; I was hanging out with a friend (thank you, Adam Farnes!) in college and he shared something that he had put together.

He went on and read facts about individuals who are well known to many of us for being great, but as you will see, they too were put in “boxes” at some point of their lives.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

  • Born in a log cabin in absolute poverty.
  • Entire education consisted of 18 months of schooling.
  • Failed in business twice, including a general store which lasted only one month.
  • Suffered from depression and a nervous breakdown.
  • Failed in eight major elections.

OPRAH WINFREY

  • Was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.”

WALT DISNEY

  • Fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination,” and “had no original ideas.”
  • Told as a boy that he had no talent in drawing.

MICHAEL JORDAN

  • Cut from his high school varsity basketball team for “lack of talent.” He went home, locked himself in his room, and cried.
  • Missed more than 9,000 shots in his career as a professional athlete.
  • Lost 300 games.
  • Missed a game-winning shot 26 times.

WINSTON CHURCHILL (one of the greatest speakers and statesmen in England’s history)

  • Teachers called him “dull and hopeless” and he flunked out of 6th
  • Suffered from a speech impediment.

MOHANDAS K. GANDHI

  • Experienced low levels of self control as a child.
  • Was caught shoplifting.
  • Was jealous and impatient as a teenager and was possessive of his wife when he was first married.
  • Lived all of his adult life in poverty, even so far as making his own clothing from scratch.

BABE RUTH

  • Struck out at bat 1,330 times.

THE BEATLES

  • Turned down by the Decca Recording Company who said, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,” and, “We don’t like their sound – they have no future in show business.”

We would be living in a world without Beatles music, Disney World, Jordans, Oprah and iconic figures like Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Churchill if they all decided to live by someone else’s false perception. I believe that we are all on this earth for a purpose, and it is our mission to fulfill our destiny.

The next time we decide to harshly judge, put others in boxes or give up on ourselves, I say let’s all try a little harder to cheer each other on, to be happy when others succeed, to easily forgive and foster an environment that allows growth. At the end of the day, we all are in this journey together, and like my wise friend Shanita once said, “There is enough money and success to go around for everyone.”

By no means do I want to say I am perfect at this, but I will say I have come a long way from that little boy who grew up poor and thought that life had limits. I have come a long way from that kid that used to get bullied for being different and not wanting to accept what makes me unique. I have come a long way from allowing past mistakes hold me back from conquering my fears. To close, here’s a quote that changed my life forever, and I hope that by reading this honest and open post that you can feel a little better about letting go of your boxes, too.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

*Leave a comment below and let us know the “boxes” you have crushed in your life, Thanks for reading!

Defining “Leadership”

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Do me a favor: Google search the phrase “what is leadership?” and tell me how many different interpretations you find. So many people want to crack the leadership code and try to interpret the word. We see so many different perspectives on leadership that some have even made it into a career. For example, Stephen Covey, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins and so many more leadership gurus are out there trying to help you find the leader within yourself. To be honest, none of them are right or wrong, according to what you decide works for your life.

The secret code to leadership is not that there is one definitive answer to what leadership is; rather, it’s what you find works for you to help you become the best you. No wonder why many say that your perception of things becomes your truth.

The goal of our “leadership” blog is not to give a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather to present universal leadership principles, and let you decide what you think is right for you!

The Modern Perspective is all about celebrating individuality and helping you live a full life, where you accomplish your goals and dreams. We know that our generation will change this world and that we are the leaders of TODAY!

Steve Jobs penned the following words for an early Apple promotion titled “Think Different”:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

As Mr. Jobs says, let’s push this human race forward by staying true to who we are, while striving to become the best generation of leaders this world has ever seen!

*I would love to hear how you define Leadership, leave me a comment below I would love to start a conversation!