I remember being in a Gospel Principles class a few years ago, and we were discussing the subject of charity. I made the point that charity was in the little things, such as putting shopping carts away after using them at grocery stores, emphasizing that if everyone practices such decency, society would be a much better place. A woman in the class agreed with me though added that charity also requires not being quick to judge those who don’t put their carts away. Such a person could be a mother with her arms full of children who simply is not in a feasible position to do so. Though I held my peace, I thought hers was a weak argument.
Interestingly, this exact circumstance occurred to me at the grocery store today. For my third time, I found myself at Winco with a cart full of groceries before remembering that the place doesn’t except credit cards, and having lost my debit card, I had to go home to get Teresa’s. As I fanangled my way through the awful situation while juggling two kids (one throwing a tantrum, the other in a heavy car seat), I realized that I was simply unable to put my cart away … I, who for years had prided myself as the pinnacle of moral excellence when it comes to shopping carts. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, I had to swallow my pride and join the ranks of shopping cart litter bugs, once again learning the age-old lesson: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
It was against my principles to support school fund-raisers done through commercial entities for reasons that are to me at least obvious. Then a neighbor came to our door tonight and asked if we’d like to buy cookie dough for her school fund-raiser. I didn’t have the heart to say no. Though I didn’t have the stomach to think of the costs, so I had Teresa take over. It’s a good thing that not everyone sticks by their principles, or the world, perhaps, would be a heartless place.
For a while I sat here near the computer, pondering my life and the slippery nature of time, wondering what it all amounted to, about my place in the universe and my progress as a human spirit. Nothing intelligent came to mind. So I decided it’s time for actual enlightenment. I’m going upstairs to talk to my wife. Goodbye.
Tonight Teresa and I were on a date, and it occurred to me that married people’s dates are generally second rate because the dates lack laughter. We don’t do the silly things we did when we were in high school, because we have an increased sense of decency, and the world around us isn’t as novel. We don’t feel as inclined to transcend our comfort zones and try new things. As a result, we don’t laugh as much, and we don’t feel the high that follows Friday night laughter. So we made a pact that we would be silly, come what may. We walked across an intersection on our hands and knees. We stopped at an outdoor rock concert and danced like there was no tomorrow. On a whim, we followed a sign that read “Fine Art and Fine Cheeses Party.” We enjoyed both. We attended an event in a parking lot where people were playing polo on bicycles. It was all good, silly fun, most out of the ordinary, and filled with laughs.
In a world of anti-slavery, anti-torture, anti-supremacist though, when you’re fully honest with yourself, do you, like me, face at least a small amount of cognitive dissonance when confronting the subject of vegetarianism and the horrible abuses of the meat market in America?
Man, ever since I got my “real job”, it’s been hard not to view the world as a rat race. Suddenly knowing there’s a number attached to your annual worth, how can one not want up that number? And seeing one’s friends and family move on to higher education and more prestigious, intelligent, and exciting positions, how can one not want to compete? On one hand, the honors of men are worthless, you can’t take it with you, etc. But on the other hand, you can take your mind, your talents, and your experience, which is exactly what people pay you for. Hence it almost seems that the best way to prepare for the after life is to invest one’s self in an ambitious career path. I mean, what’s the purpose of life if not to improve one’s self? If one has locked himself into a position in which he’s no longer progressing, isn’t he more or less “damned” by the Mormon definition? Surely God wouldn’t settle for an entry-level position. He’s the most intelligent man in the universe. So why do we develop these damnable dogmas that it doesn’t matter what we do with our careers?
It’s not the money I covet, it’s the satisfaction of trailing ahead of my friends and watching them cough in my dust.
I’ve been thinking about the digressing state of our nation and the fingers of blame that are pointed from both sides of the aisle. One side argues that money corrupts. It corrupts those in power, such as the heads of corporations. These twisted fat cats selfishly hoard our nation’s resources, abusing the poor. The other side also argues that money corrupts. They also argue that it corrupts those in power. It corrupts government officials and bureaucracies who are swayed by lobbyists. Its cushy and powerful nature promotes a focus on immediate “needs” and wants, inspiring reckless spending and delaying of inevitable consequences. Maybe both sides are onto something. Maybe money corrupts. Maybe it corrupts everyone, not just the rich and powerful.
Could poor people possibly be corrupted by money? When there’s a financial incentive, could a desperate person be inclined to do something he wouldn’t otherwise do? Could a poor person who’s simply given money possibly be corrupted by reaping what he hasn’t sewn? And if everyone’s just inclined to be corrupted by money, could there not possibly be something also corrupt in a corrupt government official taking money from a corrupt corporate executive, and giving it to a corrupt poor person?
What if it was utterly corrupt for anyone, in any position, to declare any stewardship over anyone’s money but his own? And if the masses followed this principle, where would our nation be?