Someone at work the other day used the "it takes one to know one" cliché.
I shook my head as I usually do when I hear that line. It's such a stupid retort. If it takes an idiot to know an idiot, then that makes both people involved idiots and everyone they know is an idiot and by extension everyone on the whole planet is an idiot. Everybody knows somebody.
Then it hit me--that's not what that rejoinder means. It doesn't mean "it takes one to be acquainted with one." It means "it takes one to recognize one." Then I felt stupid--it's actually not such a bad comeback. How could I have not seen this before?
I realized I couldn't remember the first time I heard "it takes one to know one." It's something I've heard semi-regularly for my entire life, going back into my early childhood. I remember thinking the same things about how stupid it was way back then. I guess what happened was that I heard it before I understood it and before I was capable of really comprehending its intended interpretation. But every time I heard it since then (until now) I'd fallen back on my original assumption of what it meant and totally missed the point.
Similar things happened with everything I was taught in primary classes at church. I heard that the church was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Jesus died for my sins before I had the ability to consider what all that might mean. By the time I was a teenager, all those things formed the baseline for my assumptions about reality. Sure, I had my own opinions, but they were all built on someone else's false teachings. Instead of just getting one cliché totally wrong, I was getting everything totally wrong.
Once I began to revisit the assumptions I'd been directed to make as a child, I started to make some very important realizations. Joseph Smith was not a good guy. The Plan of Salvation makes no sense. The church is not what it claims to be.
And I felt stupid--Mormonism is actually a pretty crappy way to live. How could I have not seen this before?