These seem to be lose thoughts, but let’s see if we
It is not long ago since I read Elder Christoffersson’s address Moral Discipline from October 2009 General Conference. Now I came back to similar thoughts after reading Pres. Eyring’s message about Moral Courage in the March 2010 Ensign.
The question that begs asking from my point is what moral courage actually is. If you read around the Mormon-themed blogs for a while, you’ll notice, that sooner or later usually you get different kinds of outlooks: The basic faithful Latter-day Saint, who thinks that it means doing the right thing, even if it isn’t popular; the questioning person, who is confused, when different messages seem to be coming through different conduits; the quasi-intellectual, who thinks that it means breaking the rules, regardless of cost; the “heretic”, who is suggesting something totally outlandish just for kicks.
What you don’t hear are the many thoughtful people, who think that it takes some time, effort and formulating to answer a question that is complex at best. By the time they would be ready to answer, the discussion has moved on to the next topic that seems to get clicks.
With that dig at the blogging ethos (and pathos, too), I will hazard some personal thoughts about what I define as moral courage in my personal life.
First, while I’m no friend of maxims–I think they too often trivialize real-life difficulties we might have with real lives–there seem to be some basic ideas that I have found enlightening.
To start with the Great Commandment–or the Golden Rule, if you prefer–I usually derive a simple maxim: Try to act in harmony with Love and Charity. That means that I don’t want to hurt anyone. However, to use a figure of speech, if one has a toothache, before getting rid of it, it may be necessarily to cause short-term pain to avoid even bigger and longer lasting pain in the future. To do that usually takes courage, whether the aching tooth be in your own mouth or someone else’s. (Especially if that someone else is much stronger than you!)
There are certain “thou shalt not” statements in the basic commandments given in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, along with the Doctrine and Covenants, that are not popular with some people. To follow the principles sometimes means being ridiculed. That may need courage, especially if you’re young and not used to it yet.
Furthermore, doing what you feel is right may invite the wrath of people, who think they are entitled to expect something else from you. Just in case, let it be stated that I don’t think the Lord’s commandments ever require us to be deliberately obnoxious toward others. However, if we have opinions we feel need to be heard by others, expressing them, however politely, may require courage. There are a number of live-wire issues that will always elicit strong condemnation from different zealots, rest assured.
Quite often I get the feeling there are many, who go through the motions of what they feel is expected of them, all the while resenting it. That may explain some of the vehemence with which sometimes even those, who state their thoughts quite politely.
Naturally, there are those of us, who believe, that the Lord meant what he said, when he said that not everyone, who calls unto him, “Lord, Lord!” will inherit his kingdom, but those who do his will. So yes, doing is important. As I have said before, if faith is dead without works, so are works without faith.
In all, I submit that it is better to be bold (courageous) in a cause that we mistakenly pursue than to be a coward in the right cause.
That is something I think is essential. The Lord stated quite strongly, that he isn’t impressed with “lukewarm” people; actually the condemnation on lukewarmness is almost as strong as hypocrisy.