30 July 2018

If You Hope to Better the World, Better Yourself

I have great respect for Harry Browne, who many you probably have never heard of. Here is a wonderful article about him and some of his ideas from the Misses Institute.

It has gotten fashionable for young people to try and change the world (again) for the better.  Of course, every generation has attempted this and a few (like the youth of the late 60s) were so narcissistic about it that we still see the mess they created. Our present crop looks poised to make the latest effort even more flamboyant and destructive.

Harry revoiced the answer to this in the 1970s.  This is a concept that actually features in the Bible, so it has the cache of being tried a few times before.  If you want to make the world a better place, be a better person!

Isn't it simple?  If the world is crashing down (it always is) and everything good is coming to an end (yet again), the best thing you can do to make a positive change is make yourself into the change you want to see.  That should take your whole life and then some, so you should never get too weird about changing anyone or anything else - you have plenty of work on your hands already!

I know - everyone else is the problem and if you can just pass the right legislation or shame the right people, everyone will fall into line and your life will work better.  I didn't mistype that - most of the screaming and violence is all about making life work better for the people who are screaming and breaking things (usually at the expense of the very people they swear they are helping)!  It has nothing to do with anyone else (in a positive way), no matter how loudly they say that it does.  This is a manifestation of the concept that all of a person's problems are someone else's fault. My kids tried this stunt (typically when they were young) and I will give you the answer that I gave them:  So What?

No matter how or by whom you think your life fell apart, no one can really fix that at this point except you. The first part of any solution is (of course) to stop blaming other people or circumstances and just get busy improving things.  You will usually get a lot of help from nice people unless you choose to drive most of them away by getting indignant and angry about things. (I have lots of personal knowledge about this.)

Do you think the world needs improvement?  Improve yourself and you will develop more influence to change others, mostly by inspiring them to make similar improvements to themselves.  So, quit complaining and get to work on the one thing you can influence today:  yourself.

26 July 2018

A Priestly Life in the Trenches

I am a descendant of the Biblical Aaron which makes me a kohen or priest by tradition, and I work to honor this with service in God's temples and other situations that are available to me. Although I am not a Jew in the rabbinical sense and I am not a particular aficionado of rabbis and their lawyerly aspect, I access and serve God in my own way, as he guides me, similar to my fore-bearers.

Before I was born, my parents embraced the spiritual thought and practice taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). I have been tasked with responsibilities and labors as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood that Abraham and Moses also held and as interpreted by the LDS faith.

My obligation is to God before it is to any family or religious tradition.

Mormonism, like some other faiths such as Judaism, do not make a particular profession of priests. There is no paid clergy in the LDS tradition and most men are holders of the priesthood and do priestly service regardless of lineage alongside the labors done to support themselves and their families. It becomes easy to put God's service to the sidelines of life under these conditions and let other matters take precedence. I have lately been trying to better co-mingle God's service and my paid work and this manifests in personally interesting and instructive ways.

For example, I approach most things with "new eyes". I am not an inherently technical person, but I have been blessed with inspiration in relation to technical and professional matters. I end up looking like a rebel among the Information Technology and business orthodoxy. The official term for this is a maverick. As a result, I have never been particularly obedient to prevailing wisdom (which has been personally catastrophic to climbing the business career ladder) and I often approach reoccurring situations from different angles each time they come around in my role as "a curious instrument". God inspires me with what to do in the moment and I strive to follow those promptings as they come and things tend to work out rather well. I end up also being incredibly inconsistent and disorganized, probably due to my poor obedience to inspiration!

I doubt I will ever be a significant figure in such orthodoxical professions as management, education, or information technology, where the bulk of my present income is made at the moment. My method of being led most by inspiration in the moment is quite incompatible with the heavily analysed and procedure-oriented world that dominates everything modern and civilized. At best, I will typically be on the heretical fringes of an otherwise orderly society, laboring in the trenches alongside the kindly common folk, hopefully injecting God into our everyday struggles. I am pleasantly surprised that life and job work themselves out in spite of my unorthodox methodology! It seems to be the fate of a curiously priestly man who acts out his "religion" through a seemingly secular labor for money.

11 July 2018

Who Is Driving Your Car?

In a previous post, we talked about the proclivity of some to surrender control of their lives. As mentioned in the Psychic Proximity Principle, there is something I like to call "weak magnetism" provided by God that gently guides you toward your best potential. The interesting part is that you always have to make a conscious choice to follow that slight intuition - it isn't of sufficient strength to actually run your life. The spirit of God cannot force you to do anything - it can only gently point out the next step forward when we are paying it some attention.

Let's explore an analogy...

It was both a scary and exhilarating day when I got behind the steering wheel of a car.  What a powerful thing. I could now go faster and farther than ever before!  My range was greatly extended from what I could realistically travel on foot or on a bike on any given day.  On the flip side, my ability to do great harm to others (and myself) and damage to trees and buildings among other things was also broadly enhanced. "With great power comes great responsibility" someone like Spiderman's uncle would say about those who operate motor vehicles!

Life is a pretty important thing, best not left to chance. There are plenty of forces that are very willing to push or pull you in any number of directions and if you don't exercise your own will in your own life, there is no telling where you will end up but it will probably involve a "gutter". The great test of this life is how you choose (or choose not) to control it. Imagine if you just let go of the steering wheel of a car and step on the accelerator...

Sometimes, it might be better if you let someone else drive for a while, especially if you are steering toward a cliff. You don't want someone else to be in the driver's seat forever (it is YOUR life), but if the road is particularly dangerous or unknown to you, or it is late at night and you are very tired, it is great to have a fresh and experienced "relief" driver so you don't get yourself killed.

We are mostly weak by nature. It is a practical necessity to attach ourselves to others as guides and sounding boards for our ideas, plans and actions. That is why family is so important, where we have parents, grandparents, and others who have our best interest at heart and provide us with some of the maturity and experience that we lack. We might choose for a time to let the advice of others rule our actions through rocky times, but no one else besides you bears responsibility for what happens to you.

More important, we should not live life alone. We need the deep partnership that marriage was intended to be. In things of such importance, you should accept no cheap substitutes.

Of course, the greatest guide in the meaningful life is God. My advice is always to find more effective means to approach him and get his quiet advice.  I suggest an exploration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which God established to help us along life's path.

Who do you take advice from?  As a "driver", who would be the best "GPS" system to rely upon? The choice could spell the difference between a rather pointless existence or a life full of meaning and happiness!