When I was a missionary in Russia, one of the most jarring culture shocks I experienced was the ubiquity of pornography. Emblematic, perhaps, of this problem were the tiny rectangular pornographic stickers that came in packs of chewing gum, and which ended up plastered on public walls. This was particularly true of elevators (the kind that exist in every single apartment building). Many of the elders in my mission pursued an aggressive strategy with regard to the offending images: they carried around black magic markers and whenever they entered a new elevator, they immediately got to work blacking out the nasty parts of the stickers. Sometimes, instead of markers, they would use keys to deface the stickers to the point of unrecognizability.
A few months into my time in the field, I had a terrific senior companion. One afternoon, we stepped into an elevator and I got to work with our apartment key on the mosaic of stickers. He said to me, “you know, a lot of elders get really obsessive about those things. I think it’s better to just ignore them than to be constantly preoccupied with covering them or scratching them off.”
Some of the wisest, most helpful advice I ever received.