Just What Is Moral Courage Part 2
I don’t know how the first one could have been so poorly edited. My editor must have been napping!
But what has happened, as it often does, is that this subject of moral courage has been much on my mind, and I’ve had several opportunities to see and practise it in practice (according to dictionary, the verb takes the “s” and the noun the “c” [NERD POINTS!]). And as it often does, it seems my views have widened to look at it more from the basic human needs point-of-view. The need for nourishment and shelter are closely followed by the need of dignity, for example.
Basic Human Dignity comes from having a backbone, having some moral courage to stand for something, even if it’s difficult or unpopular. And I see that in some smaller, more closed groups there can develop quite quaint pressures to act in certain ways. Let’s not name any names, but I could name a few LDS accumulations where there are some outlandish things you’re expected to do or have—at least from where I look; and I fully realize the case may be the same the other way around.
You see where I’m going? As “pack animals” (this is no commentary on the evolution vs. creation discussion, just an expression that describes human behavior well), humans have the tendency to need closeness of others. That fosters certain instinctive obedience toward the norms–more or less clearly stated by the community–of their peers. If you look closely at your own life or the people around you practically anywhere, you’ll see that you are doing things to make others happy, and others are doing the same thing. And that, in itself is not a bad thing. We should not be selfish!
On the other hand, sometimes there may be practical issues where my conscience goes against a significant part of surrounding community’s norms. How do I handle such a case? Do I set up a web site and drum up hits with tacky ads about hot-button issues, or do I just keep it mostly to myself, while not going against my conscience? Well, I have decided on the latter one, and some of my views have been enforced later by the Priesthood channel, while some others have changed, because I have received my own answers to the paradox I thought I was looking at, which now makes good sense. I wonder how much that happens, generally?
I must now come back to how Joseph Smith rendered some statements of Jesus in JST. First, think of how many times in LDS Standard Works you can find the phrase “ask, and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened”. Or, to put it more clearly and practically, in JST he rendered Luke 19:26 (actually v. 25 in JST) thusly: “who occupieth, shall be given; and from him who occupieth not, even that he hath received shall be taken away from him.” I’m not qualified to discuss the Greek possessive here, so skip that.
(As a bit of a digression–should be buried in the footnotes–let me mention that some anti-mormon agency reports, that the Church is trying to quietly bury the JST, because it is embarrassing to it. Yep, buried in plain sight in an openly (machine-) searchable web site for all to read who wish. Then they say that you shouldn’t believe it when we say that we are publishing only snippets of it, because it mostly goes right along with what was already in the Bible. See it always comes to whom you want to believe.)
What I mean, is that in every instance we come back to the idea that was referred to in a comment to my post on the subject 6 months ago: Our power to act increases as we act. Our faith grows as we exercise it; our muscles grow when we exercise them; our brain does better when we give it some work to do instead of soap operas; “light clingeth to light…” –if we shut the door, we can’t keep all that’s been gathered. One is reminded of O.S. Card’s Seventh Son (Alvin Maker) series, where there is the Unmaker (see note at bottom), all the time trying to undo things. Not quite visible usually, but clearly perceptible if you were attentive. And the way for Alvin to fight against it/him was to make something with his faculties.
I don’t mean to assign great doctrinal significance to a novel about “imagined history” (as I would describe it), but I mean it goes quite well with many of the Master Teacher’s most powerful and oft-repeated statements. So what I’m suggesting is, that if we do not want to lose the light we have, we take those steps in the dark, and see the light moving with us, and the circle of light enlarging. If we stand still, it dies out; we’re not using it, we won’t be able to keep it.
So yes, I would say to anyone, who feels much pressure from people: go to the Scriptures, spend some time alone in peace, thinking about what you read, what your life is about, and how you should go on. Don’t get hung up on seemingly paradoxical things–usually that’s just the lack of light there–but see what gets repeated within the books, and in General Conference messages by the living prophets. Pour your heart out to the Father, and let the Savior bear your burdens (Matt 11:28-30), because he is standing at the door, knocking, just waiting for you to let him in and heal you. And he will–which doesn’t mean that life’s going to be easy. Actually it may go the other way for quite some while. But think of the Bible. Whoever had it easy in the Bible? Sure, Elijah performed some great miracles, for example, but he was among his people an outcast, because he raised his voice to proclaim the message of the Lord even if it was unpopular.
Just remember, that Elijah was called of God, and he did what God told him, not the other way around! Thank you for your attention.
[Edited my oops! there -- I had called the Unmaker the Destroyer. Not that that's so much different, it's just that I remembered later that I had substituted the Biblical word for the one in the novel series.]