Episode 8

Political Advocacy and the Work of Salvation

Guest Episode with Britt Larson

Meghan: As we discuss the balance of political advocacy and salvation and how we as disciples can navigate these very, very muddy waters in the last days when it’s so important to do so, I am thankful to welcome Britt Larsen. Britt was born and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, same as me.  We actually know each other from way back in the day.  There are a couple of girls camp memories that I won’t mention because they are embarrassing to me and I do remember them. Britt’s parents are both of pioneer ancestry and they met at BYU.  She is extremely thankful for the foundation that her parents provided for her and her siblings saying that they showed them by their actions what a disciple truly is.  Britt Larsen now uses her years of executive management experience and expertise in media training to support others looking to make a change in their career; whether it be discovering a new industry, finding a new job, preparing for interviews or getting a promotion. She founded Livelihood, a community for women who work, in 2017 as a blog featuring women from diverse professional backgrounds, and has since grown the space into a premier community for working women and a thriving career coaching business for people of all backgrounds. And she is absolutely amazing at what she does. 

Early in her career, Britt Larsen became the Director of Communications for a prominent Congressman in Washington, DC. During the 2012 presidential election, she managed the communications efforts during the Iowa Caucus and led strategy for her boss as he moderated the CNN South Carolina Presidential Candidate Debate. On Capitol Hill she cultivated long standing relationships with members of the national press, booking daily hits on national television and she wrote all the press releases and official statements placed in outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Politico. She was also chosen to lead the Heritage Foundation’s weekly communications briefing. 

From DC, she was recruited to be the Director of Communications under the Governor of Florida. At the time she served as the Department of State Public Information Officer, overseeing the state elections and was the on-camera official spokeswoman and speechwriter for the Secretary of State and the agency of over 600 employees.  She led efforts in advertising, public affairs, marketing and social media while managing the  communications team of 30 professionals, directing strategy and campaigns in tourism, voting in education with multi billion dollar ad budgets. Basically she’s  Superwoman.  As the public information officer for Florida’s elections division she interacted frequently with members of the local and national press and held daily press briefings during the election cycle.  Britt then moved into the private sector and since has directed public affairs strategies and communications for political campaigns, startups and established enterprise companies. Some of her past clients include Microsoft, Delta, Pfizer, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Merit Medical, Subway, United Airlines, Joann Fabrics, Extra Space Storage and several statewide and national political campaigns. As the youngest and only female VP at her last firm, she instituted a completely new structure for client strategy and hired more than 50% of employees.

Britt is the youngest of four children and says that her siblings are all incredible disciples in their own right who inspire her daily.  She is married to her amazing husband, Michael, and they have been married for five years now. They met in their late 20s and liked to say that they were both worth the wait. Michael was in the NBA program at BYU and his view of the gospel is something that she truly loves about him.  Together they have faced infertility struggles and it took several years, much money, many tears and a lot of surgeries to add to their family. But they finally did welcome their beautiful miracle baby boy in 2020. And they say that they are so in love with him. So, Brittany, thank you so much for joining me today.

Britt:  Thank you!  That was torture. Listening to someone read your bio, I don’t know, that’s a cruel form of torture but thank you.

Meghan:  Yours is impressive at least.  I feel like mine would be like, here’s this person and um, she exists, so that’s good.

Britt:  Stop it, right now, that’s not true.  You are incredible. Even just what you’re doing with this podcast is so impressive.

Meghan:  Thank you. Well, everyone here now knows that you are an expert when it comes to the political space.  I mean you have, you’ve been in DC, you’ve worked with all the major corporations. I mean, you’ve just about run the gambit when it comes to working in politics it seems.  Other than running, you haven’t run yet.

Britt:  Never. I will never run for office. We can talk about that and why. But…

Meghan:  So give me a little bit more background about where did your interest in politics start?  What was the foundation of that in your life?

Britt: I think my parents would laugh by saying them because ironically all four of their children I would say, are more politically involved, aware, enraged, than they were, so I don’t think that they would use that word but, it was very important for my parents to instill a love of community into her children. My mom did that through the Colorado Academy of Arts that she ran and that was really important to her. My dad has a very globalistic view of the world.  It’s really important to him that his children experienced lots of different viewpoints in living in different places.  My family lived in Europe, actually, before I was born, and it’s something I’m still bitter about. But that really influenced them. I mean my mom talks a lot about not having a child when they lived in England because socialized medicine made it really scary for her to think about having a child there.  In fact, the first week that they lived there she was asked to join the Relief Society to go clean up a hospital room before a woman had birth because you would walk in and she said I mean there was blood on the floor.  That was her personal exposure to socialized medicine and she decided, ‘I’m not having a kid while I’m here’ and that’s why they waited to have me.  So I heard stories like that growing up and then again, on the flip side of how you need to reach out to other people and think about different perspectives and be open to them.

But really it started in junior high.  I realized that I was good at debate and I think being the youngest of four very strong siblings (since you asked about that),  I love that you asked that because actually I do think that’s a huge part of my story. I have an older brother who is a political science major. All of my siblings in their own right are very interested in public affairs and current affairs, different aspects of it and I wanted to keep up, you know, I wanted to be able to spare with my big brothers and be able to hold my own.  And then in high school it turned a more practical approach. I knocked doors for Bush which is so funny to me that that was something that I was interested in doing, but I did it and I still don’t really know why. I was fifteen and would have my mom drop me off on a Saturday to knock doors in Fort Collins, for George W.  And I thought that was fascinating and what fifteen year old does?  I think I was born with this interest. And then student council, you know, started to look really interesting to me. I ran as a junior for a student body officer position and I lost terribly, and I actually think that loss was, well, it was very pivotal in helping me understand how it all works and how much of a popularity contest it is and then I basically ended up doing the kid’s job who got elected and I actually found that quite rewarding. I liked that he fell on his face and I got to make the dance really cool.  I made him look good. We supported each other actually really well and that was the beginning of understanding that you didn’t have to be, to your point, I have done about everything but run myself.  I have absolutely no interest in that because I just like to make it happen, you know?  And then I went to BYU and I was quite frustrated by the fact that there really isn’t a student body government there for good and bad.  And the party organizations, you know that national student party organizations are not very organized at BYU either. I heard about the Washington seminar program and I’m getting a little ahead of myself probably, but that was when it started to become more real, and I majored in political science and communications and I knew I wanted to do something with those two things, but I didn’t know what it looked like. I visited DC as part of an essay contest that I won when I was fifteen.  I don’t know if you remember when I knocked out the power to our whole town?

Meghan:  Oh, everybody remembers that story, Britt. There’s not a single kid…

Britt:  From Fort Collins, yeah.

Meghan:If they were in those four years of seminary, early morning, there’s not a single one that doesn’t remember when you knocked out the power of the entire city.

Britt:  Okay, I’ll tell the abbreviated version…long story short,  on the way to seminary I hit a guide wire to a light pole and knocked out the power to the entire, well, it was pretty much all of Fort Collins.  I think it was over 15,000 homes, a bunch of schools…

Meghan: We all showed up at 6 am seminary, all the girls had soaking wet hair.  Yeah, I vaguely remember it was like spring so it was still kind of chilly outside.

Britt: Yeah, it was March. Yeah.

Meghan: Yeah, good times. You made a name for yourself that time.

Britt:  My maiden name is Lessor, so I became “Lights out Lessor”, still am to some people and I leveraged that in true political fashion, that horrible thing that I did, by winning this video essay contest for the local power company. I bet you didn’t know this.

Meghan:  I didn’t.

Britt: From that, that was my first foray into PR and I spun it into ‘Look at how much I learned about power!’  And the local power co-op sent me to DC.  I’d always wanted to do something like that and couldn’t afford it,  it was something  my parents couldn’t afford, to send me to a camp or be a page or something like that.  And that really solidified it. I remember standing in the Jefferson Memorial, I’m fifteen and you know, this was after I had knocked doors for Bush and that was the pinnacle moment that I had to go back, I had to live there, I had to work there.  And that was really what really solidified it.

Meghan:  You know, it’s so interesting, talking to you because I feel like I could have very easily taken this exact same path, but I didn’t knock the power out that day.

But as we were talking, like I so resonate with your story.  I did debate and I remember taking a leadership class in junior high and my leadership teacher being like, you should run for student council and I never did that. I wasn’t motivated enough to do that I guess.  I think I knew that it was a popularity contest.

Britt:  Yeah, you were smart. I had to learn the hard way.

Meghan:  But I just love it and I love that you recognize your roots and how those all played a big role. I want to go back to something that you said that I think is so interesting. It’s that you said you think you came wired this way and I think you’re probably exactly right.  And this is something that we’ve explored on the podcast very briefly and in passing, but one of the things that I firmly believe is that as Christ’s disciples in the last days we had to come with a certain skill set.  We had to come with certain interests and those things should be what motivate us to become active on Christ’s behalf and in doing his work.  And I can certainly see how your experience has led you to do political work but to do it with an eye on the Savior and serving Him.

Britt: Whew!  No pressure!  But really, if I wasn’t wired this way, none of it would make sense.  Because it really doesn’t.  I mean, like I said, it’s not like my parents ran for office or talked around the dinner table about how important it is to be civically engaged.  I remember watching Fox and CNN with my dad but, you know, we’d talk about it just like you think you would, I think, in most families.

Meghan:  My dad only watched one of those.

Britt: (laughter)

Meghan: Your dad was trying to give you balance.

Britt:  Yeah, I think there was a lot more of Bill O’Reilly, let’s be honest.

Meghan:  My dad’s was Glenn Beck.

Britt: I do think we come with our unique skill sets. One of the main reasons I started Livelihood was because I wanted to help normalize women following those pathways, those dreams, whether it was volunteer work, whether it’s what they instill and teach in their children and teach in their homes.  We know President Nelson’s huge focus has been home-centered and I think that women are sent the children that we are for a reason.  And you know, Tate already knows that mom worked at the capitol and I’m sure that I can already picture him as a teenager, rolling his eyes and saying, “Yeah, mom, I know you worked in Congress.”  But I think that that’s an important piece of the kind of mother that I am, just like your unique interests and talents influence your children. So I think not fighting that and instead leaning into it, being okay with it, but also recognizing that that’s hard.  There wasn’t a degree in public affairs. I fought it at BYU, I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing.  When I interned at NBC in DC, I was really torn as to whether I wanted to go into journalism or work on the Hill and I really felt conflicted about that.  I still do! You know, I still wonder, ‘Did I do the right thing, did I follow the right path?’ But what I try to do the most of is just come back to those core issues that are really important to me. The life issue is really the number one. It’s so crazy to look back and see how that was instilled in me really young and I’ve had a lot of cool opportunities to be a mouthpiece to that issue that I think is a little bit more loving and not so divisive because it is such a divisive topic and yet,  I came this way and I don’t know why and I’ve tried to stop answering that question and instead just say,  “Okay, this is who I am.”

Meghan: Yeah, just go with it.  And recognize that as long as you are seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost you will be taught how to use those predispositions in a positive way.

Britt: That’s hard! I mean I think that’s really, really hard because most people who go into this work are doing it for the right reasons. I don’t believe that most politicians are bad people, but the system is so corrupted that it’s so easy to get caught up in it and I have several examples of times where I had to check myself.

Meghan:  Let’s talk about that. So two part question.  Number one, talk to me about the system being corrupted, because I think we think that’s fairly obvious, but I think that depending on what and how people associate politically they might point to a different source of corruption. I would be interested to know your thoughts on that. And then share some of your experiences of how you had to check yourself and how to keep sight on what’s really important if you don’t mind being vulnerable in that way.

Britt:  Yeah. I might have to be somewhat vague because all of those examples are still somewhat confidential.  Not that anyone would really care, but that’s part of the problem with this world, it’s not as transparent as it should be.  So that’s the first answer I would give, is that the power that you so quickly feel is tangible and a lot of it is God-given.  You know I do think, because I believe in the Restoration of the Gospel that so much of it was inspired, I really believe in the power of the individual, and sometimes that can come at odds with the way that the Church views political issues.  And sometimes it’s really hard when someone has been in the belly of the beast and in those backroom meetings, to listen to people talk about it. You just don’t even understand, how stupid, honestly most of these people are. And what I mean by that is that they are just regular men and women.  If you think about every meeting you’ve been in, at church, at work, there’s always a variety of opinions, coming from all sides and stupid mistakes happen all of the time in every company.  Just imagine that happening with all eyes from the whole world on it and throw Twitter in the mix. So, I think we put our elected officials on a very unrealistic pedestal and they fail us all the time because they are human. And so that’s where I feel like it’s somewhat doomed from the start, right?   We know this is a man-made system trying to apply celestial principles of individuality and God-given rights and it’s not always going to succeed and it can’t. And that’s something that LDS people should just know, right?  But then we get frustrated when they make human mistakes. And so I actually think one of the bigger problems, and this is an unpopular opinion, I feel like, is that we as a society have elevated the politician but we have degraded the work that they do and so I don’t necessarily think we need to pay them more or anything like that but I think we expect so much more out of them and then we throw tomatoes at them.  So if we want better elected officials, we have to be more willing to listen to our neighbor, to not go on Facebook and rant and rave and then expect that these people we elected can somehow compromise with each other. Actually one of the saddest things and this will answer the second part, and this is that there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that’s really powerful and good.  The congressman, and I feel like I can share this because he’s not in office any more, was so divisive, I mean very very very conservative.  In fact, when I interviewed to work for him, he asked me how I affiliated, obviously, and I was registered Independent. And that’s still one of my favorite things because people are surprised by it but he said I care about one issue and one issue only, that we agree on and everything else we’ll figure out along the way. And I think that’s something people don’t understand. There is no way I could work for someone who I agree with one hundred percent, there’s no such person except for myself and we already talked about how I’m never running, so? 

I knew he cared a lot about the life issue and he asked me about that and I said absolutely we are totally in sync there.  He said, “Great,” and shook my hand and offered me the job. So, what’s sad to me about his persona is that. He didn’t always do himself favors with this, I’m not saying it’s the media or the public’s fault, but he worked a ton with people across the aisle, he was a lot more measured and moderate than he came across, but you just didn’t ever see that. And so a lot of where I would check myself was checking my ego at the door and making sure that I was doing what was right for the cause at large. One particular story, and I don’t know if this answers your question but it comes to mind. I was working on something related to the life issue and it would have been a really big heartbeat bill, basically encouraging states to create their own legislation, so focus on federalism and helping them empower women make more educated choices, that it wouldn’t necessarily be required, but that having an ultrasound before getting an elective abortion felt like something that I was passionate about and the bill just died.  I mean it went nowhere. And it felt like, I’ve been working on it for a year and I am so excited about it and it just wasn’t going to go anywhere so I went on a walk and I was so angry because I felt like I was in this position to really cause change. In fact, I won’t get into details, but my patriarchal blessing talks about this specific issue and uses phrases like ‘influencing the world’, which is very daunting and so I felt like ‘this was that, this is how I’m going to do that and I’m twenty one and I’m going to change the world’. And it all fell apart, and it wasn’t even me! You know, I was a very small part of it and that was something I had to learn too, I’m one little cog in a wheel that barely works.  I went on a walk, and it’s July in DC, and it’s so hot and miserable and I’m sitting on the fountain in front on the Capitol, and there’s all these families, and just tons and tons of tourists and I can still feel the tangible Spirit, ‘This is what matters. Look behind you, that bill doesn’t matter.’ And I still get emotional thinking about it, that bill, sure, it would have been really cool to say I helped saved these babies but when I really thought about it and felt very rebuked by the Spirit, that’s what matters is your family and your personal circle of influence is so much more important than the things that you do that make you feel grander.  And we all know the famous quote of ‘What happens in cradles and kitchens is so much more important than the halls of Congress’ and that was my personal experience with that. 

Meghan: Gosh, that’s so powerful.  I see a lot of just applicability in this experience for us on an individual level. I mean the vast majority of the people listening, I would venture to say, probably no one listening to this is in Congress or affiliated with Congress.

Britt: Of course not.  We wish that they were listening.

Meghan: Right? But I think that it’s fair to say that especially over the last couple of years there has been an increase in political interests and political activity and perhaps especially among members of the Church and I think that it is so easy to get caught up in the things that we feel passionate about, especially when they’re  righteous causes, and we see this is something that the Lord would give his stamp of approval to and that’s why I feel strongly about this or you know if it was something that had personal applicability the way that like you felt that you were fulfilling part of God’s plan for you, right, having that written in your patriarchal blessing.  And I feel the Spirit so strongly when you talk about this experience of saying, but what really matters is what’s in your grasp right now. And what you have the power to influence and I think that that may or may not include our social media feeds to a varying degree.  I think some people like to be social media heroes. And I think that it’s good to share your thoughts but at the same time I think that sometimes we get so invested in putting out our beliefs to as big an audience as possible that we fail to see how am I impacting the people that are my people.

Britt:  Right.  I feel so strongly about this, Meghan, because I feel like the biggest shift that I’ve seen, it’s been eight or nine years since I worked in DC and six years since I worked for an elected official and then, I mean I’m working on a campaign right now so it’s not like I don’t think these things are important and I want everyone to vote and I want people to get more involved. But I don’t know when it became more important to broadcast your personal causes than to live in a way that reflects how you actually feel about things.  And I get that some people may say that that’s privileged, right? That I have the ability to just live my life and people feel the need to use their social media platforms, for example, to advocate for whatever cause may be, but the same thing applies to Congress, if people would just sit down and talk and listen to each other with an open mind, so many problems would be solved.

Meghan: Totally.

Britt:  And I see these quipping memes people share that frankly, they destroy relationships and that is my biggest thing. Please, just think before you share! Get on the phone with someone, Marco Polo a friend, text an acquaintance and ask them what they think.  I have tons of friends, in fact, this week on my blog I’ll be sharing a friend that worked for Harry Reid and she went to BYU. We could not have worked for more different members of Congress, and agree on very little, and she’s one of my favorite people. And that shouldn’t be novel but it is, it really is and looking at the pictures that she sent me to include, you know, her experience I think was noble! I don’t agree with a lot of the causes she was fighting for, but looking at her life and how things led to her working in DC, she absolutely was supposed to be there and I think God’s hand was in that even though I don’t even like Harry Reid or what he stood for, (may he rest in peace) but I don’t think he’s an evil person.  So, I think that ability to have that nuance and say, I don’t agree with you but I still love you, that’s something that you can only do with people that you invest in.  And you can’t do that with everyone.

Meghan:  Yeah.  And I think it’s sad because as we’ve talked about, it’s noble, it’s good, it’s important to be involved, to be educated, to share your thoughts, but I think that we underestimate how isolating it is when we share it in a certain way.

Britt: Yes!

Meghan:  When we’re just throwing memes into our story or all we post is rants about the person that is in office that we can’t stand.

Britt:  Right!

Meghan:  Regardless of what political affiliations you have, when you do that, you’re isolating people, usually, who are immediately in your life.  It could be family or friends or neighbors who think differently than you, and if that’s all that they see of you,  that’s not going to invite a conversation. That’s not going to help them feel loved, and I think that it’s really counter productive, especially when what I think what we are are really trying to achieve is a degree of tolerance and of charity and of love for one another. At least I hope that that’s what our goal is.

Britt:  Amen! Yeah.

Meghan: I hope that that’s what our goal, and so yes, finding a better way to share what you think in a way that invites conversation rather than makes people unfollow you.

Britt: (laughter) Well, and just shut down, you know and that goes back to my very first thing I said about, we expect this level of discussion and conversation to come from our elected officials that we’re not doing ourselves.  It’s ridiculous. And just in the last week I’ve had several conversations with people who basically either posted something, and it frustrated someone else or they were sharing what felt like a very extreme point of view that shut down how other people may think or feel about something.  And what always surprises people is that they assume that I’m narrow minded, because I worked in politics and it’s the opposite! I had to be willing to see things from all sides.

Meghan: Well, you can’t get anything done. Something that I don’t think people understand is that our Founding Fathers designed the system so that nothing got done.

Britt: Exactly!

Meghan: They designed it for gridlock and they did it for a divine purpose, right?  Because they wanted both sides of the aisle to come together, well they, George Washington would have preferred that there were no sides of the aisle, and that there were no political parties at all and I tend to, and I tend to, uh,  I, may he rest in peace.  That man, his wisdom is..gosh.  One of my favorite people.  Anyway, I tend to agree with him. I wish we could have just done away with, look how much trouble it would have saved!  But, yeah they designed it so that we would have conversations and so that there would have to be compromise on both sides so that you couldn’t just have every four years elect a new dictator and they undo everything the last dictator did and then you know you do it again in four years.  That wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Britt:  Absolutely. And that’s what I mean by ‘doomed to fail’, that really is what it was supposed to be!  It never was supposed to be a perfect system filled with perfect men. It was supposed to be a part time job and it’s evolved into an occupation. That drives me completely crazy.

Meghan:  There are more levels to the corruption. I mean,  we didn’t even talk about gerrymandering, the money side of it, I mean there is so much there. Yeah, I love these points. Okay, so with all this being said, as disciples in the last days, we are supposed to be politically engaged. There are challenges to this, to feel like we are making a difference, but I think that one of the biggest challenges that you hit on, is figuring out how to balance our political advocacy with what really matters. And I would say that what really matters is the work of salvation. And we talked about applying that to our friends and family but it’s broader than that, right? Because we, as covenant disciples, we fall under the Abrahamic covenant, we are meant to be a blessing to all of God’s children, and we have responsibilities that come with that.  So how have you found that we can balance this?  It seems like we feel like we have to pick a side; like either I’m going to be a political advocate or I’m going to be all in on the gospel and just be super churchy and holy and do my temple work every day. How do we find a balance between these two things? Because, I think they are both important.

Britt: So I think balance is an illusion, and that ‘s where I would start. There’s no one person that’s figured it out other than Christ. I mean we know that today and by today’s standards, Christ would probably be seen as a community activist and you know, maybe even a social justice warrior?  I don’t know. I mean, if I think about what would He be called if He ran for office?

Meghan: I don’t know, he was not really politically involved.

Britt: Exactly.

Meghan: Like, He was, He was the ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’, like I don’t care, that’s not why I’m here.

Britt:  His causes were very social, right?  They were focused on the welfare of the downtrodden.  My philosophy is that government should function to help the most needy, not the most, but the most needy. And so when I think about that, what is the best way to spend your time period?  It’s in righteous pursuits and that will vary depending on your season of life.  One of the things that I hear about a lot and I talk about it a lot, women as their children get older get more involved politically.  It’s really hard to be involved when you’re a young mom.

Meghan:  It’s hard to do anything when you’re a young mom.

Britt: Yeah, exactly.  And I’m an old mom with young child so I feel like I get it.

Meghan: You’re not that old at all.

Britt: Well, I started my family a little later than I anticipated and I’m already tired. And so I think about, I moved to Salt Lake to get out of politics and I wish I could tell you I saw the writing on the wall in 2016, but I did work for the governor of Florida who was very good friends with Trump and  I wanted out, I didn’t want to be part of the 2016 election.

So I moved to Utah thinking, I’m done with this. Obviously this experience will be applicable to my next job, but I didn’t get a political job and then what’s the first thing that they throw at me? It’s a massive public affairs thing they wanted me to do for some tech company in San Francisco and it’s related to Obama Care and I just thought, I’m trying to escape this and I can’t! And it goes back to how I’m wired. We all have our own unique causes that we care about and I think you can fight for them, advocate for them in real ways outside of social media.  That’s the one take away from our discussion that there are non-profits that are helping in massive ways in the causes that you personally care about. 

What lights you up?  What, when you read about it, feels like it connects you to your divine purpose? I think about my sister with this a lot because she’s, I would say,  a recent kind of convert to being involved politically. She’s always kind of joked and maybe even made fun of me a little about this stuff and she’s ten years older than me.  And two or three years ago there was a bill proposed here in Utah that would drastically increase the grocery tax and it was awesome.  It was one of those bills that everyone hated.  partisanship, anti-support and it was so unifying!  A tax that everyone hates!  And I mean, the legislature just got it so wrong,  it was awesome. So, she knocked doors, we sat at Harmon’s and got signatures together and it’s been amazing to see that seed that was planted.  For her it was, ‘I can’t afford my groceries to become more expensive’ and it grew from there to ‘I don’t want my neighbor to have to deal with the same because I know they can’t’.  And she learned about how it affected the poor so disproportionately and she became educated about it, she got really educated about what was happening in her community and shocked by what she read and it’s not like she’s decided to run for office. But it’s been amazing to see how that’s influenced her parenting and just overall the things that she’s paying attention to.  And it’s hard because,  I just keep thinking about the things you were saying at the beginning and that I wouldn’t run, it’s almost, it feels like, unless I run for city council there’s no point, but just going to a city council meeting can be really powerful, so I think, praying about what matters to you, what causes, I use the word causes and maybe that’s not the best way to put it but is there an underserved group that you feel connected to? I have friends that work a lot with the refugees that come to Utah, and I just think that’s amazing and that’s something that they have felt called to do. I think what you’re doing with this podcast is a great example. What’s balance? I don’t know. You and I both look like tired moms but we’re on this podcast right now.  You look less tired than I do.

Meghan:  I washed my face.

Britt: My make up’s just streaming down.  But that’s the thing, there really is no such thing as balance and so if we can find a way to integrate the God-given gifts that we’ve been provided and to serve people and that may mean in the temple or that may be on the school board.

Meghan: Uh-uh.  And as long as we’re doing it like you said, with that inspiration and striving to keep a focus on Christ and what He asks us to do which is to love God and then love our neighbor, I know that if we truly hone in on that, there is enough power there to unify disciples, regardless of what political group you tend to affiliate with. If we’re all doing our best effort to further Christ’s work first, however we feel inspired to do that, that’s something  we all should be able to agree on.

Britt:  Absolutely! And that’s why I love the earlier example.  You know this friend of mine, that, there were times where I would show up at a press conference and I know that my friends would literally be getting their boss to the other side of the capitol to talk about the exact opposite thing. And people who were Republicans, just like my boss, I mean that’s often where the worst fighting happens is within the group that you’re all supposed to agree with each other and you don’t.  I think also understanding that at the end of the day we all do want to eliminate suffering.  That’s what this is all about. That’s what government control should be about and I think everyone, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, can agree with that.  And what is sad to see is that it used to be that it was okay that we disagreed with how that happened and that there were good and bad things about all of the different approaches.  That respect has seemingly  gone away with our generation a little bit, but also I really love that our generations hates labels so I’m hopeful that we’re less focused on where we sit or why we think the ways that we do but just more on the how. How do we make ways for people to suffer less?

Meghan:  Yeah, I think that what you said right there is such an important understanding that everybody needs to have and that I think it has been lost to a degree.  It’s that nobody wants suffering, for themselves or anyone else. And I’m getting passionate about this because  we have lost that and we now paint the other side of the aisle as our enemy.  And we paint them as the guy that wants suffering for other people.

And it’s just not true.  I don’t know anyone, regardless of political affiliation that wants people to suffer more. It is a difference of approach and it is a difference of opinion of how to alleviate the suffering. And you know, what policy needs to be enacted to do that and who enacts the policy? And where is the policy enacted?  There’s a lot of nuance there but we need to understand that no one is going into this wanting people to suffer. Unless they are secret combinations.  That’s different. That’s a thing.  We’ll talk about that in other episodes. So, give me your best practices for dealing with the person on the other side of the aisle.

Britt: Well, first and foremost you need to expose yourself to lots of different opinions and I think that’s been lost, right?  If you look at your inner circle, and if they look like you, I think that’s a problem.  And it’s comfortable, right? It’s easier to surround yourself with people who think like you.  And that doesn’t mean you can’t protect your family or shield your children from harmful ideologies.  We have to do that.  We know from the scriptures, we know from the Prophet that that is a really important part of living in the last days. But, I never, ever hear preached from the pulpit in conference that we need to isolate ourselves or that we can only be around people who think like us and it’s tempting because it’s easier.  So that’s the first thing I would say. 

The ways that I like to do that, that’s one of the main reasons that I like to work,  I think that being in the company or being a part of a community group.  There’s a bunch of networking groups that I’m a part of that that is one of their main goals and I meet people of all ages, of all walks of life, from all over the country and that has helped me figure out what I believe.  You know when I moved to DC, I probably would have told you that I was moderate because I was raised in Colorado so I thought I was. And then I went to a very conservative school and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m very moderate’. And then I lived in DC and I thought, ‘Wow! I am about as right as you can get without being insane, you know?’  And now I live in Utah and I’m older and so my view on policy has changed and shifted, just like that happens for everyone.  And that probably would be my second point is: let yourself change your opinions but don’t expect to change other peoples. If that’s your goal, it’s not going to happen, I never, ever think that anything I post or share or speak about with someone will change their minds. And coming from that point of view is really helpful and it just makes it more about learning and validation. And making people aware but I don’t expect to change their mind and I actually I think I’ve changed a lot more minds with that way of thinking because I’ve seen it backfire when people think, this meme I post or this article that I shared, that’s going to change someone’s mind.  And it doesn’t. But asking questions does.  Being open, getting to know people as people. And that’s the last thing I’ll say. The first point that I thought of was just remember that there are people behind most data points, most stats and no one to, we talked about this earlier with husbands and children and no one to tap out.   You know, there are going to be times when it’s going to be futile and you are messing with a person who is trying to debate you, you know you think about it, I didn’t serve a mission but we hear a lot about bible bashing and this happens a lot with policy now and this goes back to just recognizing that there are just different approaches.   And if you are talking to someone who doesn’t believe that, don’t waste your time. Just try to be open and loving and caring and kind.  That’s really all we can do.

Meghan:  Thank you. Thank you for that.  And I do think that being open and loving and kind, like just realizing that we are all children of God and we come from different, we have different backgrounds, we have different levels of education, we have different levels of interests, we have different resources. It’s hard to discern that truth.  So all of those things and more play into why a person has a certain opinion and being able to have a compassion for that, and hopefully other people will have compassion on us too.

Britt:  Right!

Meghan: And realize that we, we are doing the best that we can and that we have good intentions too.

Britt:  And that’s all that you can do is turn the other cheek and be a good example and I’m not always great at that.  I’ve gotten in debates online when I shouldn’t have.  I’ve texted articles when I should have just said, I hear you and I disagree and that’s okay, I still love you.  And we’ve all done that around that dinner table with our relatives. These are things that even if, again, on paper you are supposed to agree with someone, we all have different experiences.  I’ve been going through that a lot with women who have recently left the church. I don’t know what it is but I am like a magnet right now for women who have not felt their ambition being seen within the confines of the gospel. We could spend a whole other hour on that.  And I’ve had to validate that their experience is different than mine, and I’ve learned not to fight it but just to emulate my experience. I think that’s actually a lot more powerful and I’m not going to change their mind, because that’s not my job. But I can love them and be kind and caring and then show them by how I am living my life. Or that, you know at the end of the day, Christ loves them as they are. I just don’t think that we are given these dreams for no reason.  I don’t think that you’re wired that way that you are, Meghan, you have always been so eloquent, you really have been.  I mean, I remember that from when we were in Young Women’s together. And that, again, I’m older than you. So, I feel like a big sister, like, I just I remember thinking that about you when you were young, young and you’re using that gift to help other people and which is just really inspiring.

Meghan:  Thank you, you are so sweet. 

Britt: I mean it!

Meghan: Thank you.  Just one more thought that I kind of wanted to share. Maybe two thoughts.  The one about chasing the things that you have desire for, that’s going to be so important because what I’ve noticed is that as we have talked about, we’ve all been given these different desires but these desires are things that are going to help us in the future.  Everyone on this podcast knows that I have a very strong testimony about the fact that we are in the last days and that Christ is coming. And I believe that an interest in politics will be useful. When we are doing things like building New Jerusalem and saving the Constitution and trying to figure out how do we enact a system of government that is worthy to play host to the kingdom of God.  So we’re going to need those talents and I am so grateful that we have people like you who are wonderful disciples and who have that experience and who have that desire and will go to work for the Savior because we are going to need that. 

And then one other thing that I want to share with you which is the thought that I’ve had is that we are not going to be judged based on our politics.  We are going to be judged based on the desires of our hearts and how we keep our covenants.  And that can play into our politics and our political activities there.  But sometimes I think that we are maybe too hard and fast about judging other people, you know, based on their politics and the way that they lean politically. And I really,  I don’t believe for one second that we are going to get to heaven and God is going to say, shoot, you’re conservative or shoot, you’re a Democrat, you can’t come in. So I would just throw that out there too that as we’re trying to navigate these situations, it’s hard.  It’s going to continue to be hard. I was curious, Brittany, if you would share your perception of the future of the United States and where you see things going, I was curious about that. 

Britt: Well, you got me thinking about, there were no manner of ‘ites’ among them.  That’s what I think is so man-made, is this construct of, , being obsessive about where you stand and what you think and that that defines who you are as opposed to how you act and how you live.  And that is really scary. Big Brother,  1984 type of stuff, where somehow your thoughts are being governed, and that to me just flies in the face of everything we know about the Plan, and what we learn in the temple. Like I’ve said from the beginning, my testimony is so entrenched in the gospel and that we are all children of God and I think that we have forgotten that.  I do feel like we are seeing a swing back to, I mean just hearing you say phrases like, ‘Save the Constitution’, those were things my boss was saying twelve years ago and he was being called a lunatic.  It’s becoming more mainstream to be concerned about these things which is upsetting in some ways to me because I think, where was this twenty years ago?

Meghan: Well, and also that means that the problem is obvious to everyone.  And so that’s sad.

Britt: I mean even people who don’t necessarily think the Constitution needs saving, they would maybe say it a different way, like ‘We have a lot of division, and violence, those things need to be looked at’. In some ways, I feel like we have created problems because we don’t have a lot of the same real problems.

Meghan: One thousand percent. Perfect people. We are still the most blessed nation on the face of the planet. 

Britt: Yes, I mean, when you look at poverty levels and how much democracy and capitalism has improved lives across the globe.  Sometimes I just want to scream, you know, “Look at the women in Afghanistan!” They have a reason to be protesting and having a women’s march!

Meghan:  And they can’t.  That’s evidence of our privilege.

Britt: Exactly!

Meghan: They are the ones that need to host a women’s march and they can’t.

Britt:  Right.  And that’s happening all over the world. And so I wholeheartedly believe that America is still the shining city on the hill and I actually think it will become brighter. It has to.  We know that. We know that it has to happen for Israel to be gathered. So I think that we’ll just kind of continue to just see the wheats and tares, who will follow the whims of the world, and the more popular, kind of easier to say things versus people who say, ‘I stand by the principles of truth and justice and they are intertwined between the Book of Mormon and the Constitution.’  But I think it will be harder to stay quiet and that excites me.  That scares me, but it also really excites me. I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you what it looks like, but I think maybe if we could flip the keyboard warriorism into action, heck, that may mean, peaceful protests!  I think it’s so cool that I have seen people standing on the street corner, standing for things I never would have stood on a street corner for.  I think that’s really neat. I have friends from high school who are in the Peace Corps, or Teach for America, and just the giving that happens when you tap into that I think will also increase because we are becoming more aware of our brothers and sisters. So I don’t know why I am hopeful.  I know who wins in the end, right? So, I think there are just going to be more of a war? But I also think it’s going to feel more like imposed problems than real problems.  That’s how the last few years have felt.  And I’m not saying COVID wasn’t a real problem. But how many times in the last few years have we said, ‘This is it?  Like this is what the end of the world is going to feel like?’ It’s a battle of the minds and it’s exhausting.  It’s like President Nelson says, ‘we have got to eat our vitamins’ because when he started talking about this, I said, “I’m just so tired!  We have to be ready to fight and it’s hard.”

Meghan: Totally. But, as you said, we know who wins and personally, you know, through this conversation, through my own studies, I am seeing that the Savior is giving us resource in his arsenal to do battle and it’s up to us to be willing to fight and to prepare right now. And this is just another arena where that applies.  And the best thing we can do, as you said is whatever the spirit guides you to do, with an eye on the Savior and with compassion and charity in our hearts.  I think that those are the principles that Zion will be built on, is that we will be of one heart and one mind, and it doesn’t mean we’re all going to think the same way. And it doesn’t mean that we’re all going to choose the exact same path right from the beginning when it comes to getting things done. But it means that we have our priorities in the right order and we have a true perspective of each other. And I really look forward to that. 

Britt: I do too. I think it will be exciting to watch unfold and see how each play our individual roles.

Meghan: Awesome. Thanks, Britt. Do you wanna share a brief testimony to the world?  You know this is your opportunity to just share the thoughts and feelings of your heart.

Britt: I think where I want to start is just that idea of figuring out what fire has burned within you when it comes to a cause or a population or a fight that you feel brewing inside of you instead of being frustrated, angry, or apathetic. Tap into it. And I do truly have a testimony that we were each given our own version of whatever that looks like for us, and the only tap into that we tap into our divine potential. And I know that’s a really huge part of our divine nature. Just the gifts that we’ve been given are tied into those things that keep us up at night or make us excited, or again, maybe things that we feel actively upset about and we can put ourselves to work to help solve those problems. We see that in the scriptures all the time, right? That there’s a problem. And usually it’s some kind of leader that is inflicting pain upon people. And it was the people who said, wait a second, this isn’t right. God places them in certain positions of power. But at the end of the day, they’re the ones that stand up and say, ‘I may not be the most learned or I don’t even like talking to people, and I’m going to step up and I’m going to fight.’ And I think that’s what discipleship really is. So I think about to, kind of my heroes and church history and the scriptures and in my own life, and it’s those people who were hesitant leaders, but did it anyway and that’s how I feel. I think sometimes people look at my background or hear my bio and think, oh, she’s so confident. She did exactly what she wanted to do and she went and did it. No, it’s not that. I still feel unqualified to talk about these things. Who was truly when you use the word expert earlier, I just cringe. It’s appropriate, but it’s uncomfortable. So I think that’s typically the thing that we’re supposed to do more of and that’s where change happens. That’s where God turns us into who we are really meant to be and we have countless examples of that. So I’ll just close by saying that I feel grateful to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior for giving me these gifts that have forced me, out of my comfort zone, out of what I would just do on my own. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I’ve also learned so much about their love for their individual children through the work that I’ve done in policy.  And that is something I could only learn that way, and I think that’s what’s so beautiful about the plan of happiness is it’s so unique. This super broad plan that applies to everyone somehow is also individual and that only happens because of the Atonement. There is a reason why government can’t recreate that. It is divine and I have a very strong testimony that that is unique to the gospel to that whole understanding of that plan is something I’m just so thankful for. So I’ll share that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Meghan: Amen. Thank you, girl. This was amazing. So appreciate your wisdom and your experience and you are, I would say, a wonderful example of just what we’re talking about,  following the Spirit and being willing to go to work for the things that you came ready to work for. That’s fulfilling pre-mortal covenants in such a powerful example. So thank you. Thank you so much.

Britt: Thank you for having me.

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