Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black or White?

"Judge a man by the questions he asks, rather than the answers he gives"

Have you ever wondered why you always want to do the opposite of what someone tells you?  Or why a good person can do so many bad things?  Maybe it bothers you to watch your best friend keep going back to her abusive boyfriend?  Or you get upset when someone says one thing but their actions show another?  Do you ever get the feeling something bad is going to take place, so you warn the people involved, but nobody believes you until after it has already happened?  Or maybe you felt impressed to do something, but didn't do it because you didn't have time?  Did it ever occur to you that maybe your life is like a play - each person with a script needing direction in every scene? 

We all have this thing called "agency" or "free will".  If life is divinely guided, and everything happens the way it should in the end - do we still have freedom of choice?  If the end result is going to be the same despite the choices made, then does it matter what we choose?  Are we given a divine path to follow with many choices along the way, allowing for a change in course at any given time?  Or are the choices we make, the ones we were supposed to make, and we are still on this same path given and directed through divine nature?

We tend to think that if our lives are a little rocky, it is because we are doing something wrong.  Do you think that maybe it is BECAUSE we're doing everything right, why all of a sudden we need to be tried?  We don't understand why our child does not want to go to church, and that his spiritual withdrawal is leading him astray.  Do you think that maybe this is the path they are supposed to lead, and that maybe this is our trial and not theirs?  We often look at obstacles as if they come from Satan, and that Satan has nothing to do with God.  Do you think that maybe God uses Satan as a puppet in our lives so that we can reach out and become closer to Him? 

We are told that we are not given anything that we cannot handle.  If trials are put into our lives, that He knows we can overcome - then would it be safe to say that despite how we found the end result, He knew it would turn out the way it did?  So then when and where can we exercise our agency if in the end, the results are the same despite the choices we've made previous to that?

In the Bible, we are taught that Satan is cast out of Heaven and that he took a third of the spirits with him.  If this needed to happen in order for The Plan of Happiness to take place, did God then set up His spirit children for failure?  And if Satan was cast out of the presence of God, how was it that he was able to tempt Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden where we know she dwelt with our Heavenly Father?  Did she really have a choice - or was it predetermined?

Maybe these thought provoking questions are offensive to you - I don't know.  What I do know, is that there is opposition in all things.  Without opposition, there is no choice - without choice, we cannot learn - without knowledge, we cannot grow - without progression, there would be no need to question.  When our growth is stunted, we have reached a level of ignorance.  We don't care about the amount of information we still need to acquire, nor do we care about anyone but ourselves - because if we did, we would not have come to a complete halt.  When we stop, we let go of responsibility for any repercussions for the choices we have made.  Although it sounds nice to not have to decide, we lose ourselves when we feel a lack of control.

There was a study I learned about in my psychology class.  A group of people were selected to participate in obeying an authoritative figure.  One by one each subject was put in a room with the domineering officer in charge.  When asked, the subject was to push a buzzer that was believed to zap/electrecute another person in the room next door.  The subject never saw the person being hurt, but was able to hear the screams and cries when shocks were subjected.  The subject was released from all responsibility of the damage and pain caused to the unknown person.  All the subject had to do, was listen to the officer in charge.  If the officer said to push the buzzer, the subject would.  As time went on, the officer became verbally aggressive and even threatening if the subject would not push the buzzer.  The subject continued to push the buzzer if they had the reassurance that they did not have any responsibility for the person in the other room (no persons were actually harmed in this study).  In the end, 100% of the subjects killed the unknown person due to having no responsibility for the hurt individual and following the orders of someone in a position of authority.

How easy is it for us to give away our free will if we don't have to claim the repercussions?

Another study we discussed was one that was supposed to last 7 days - but only made it for 3 or 4.  A group of people were selected to fill the roles of prisoners and guards in a prison cell, resembling a hostage situation during the war in Iraq.  As these days slowly passed, each person had literally become their character and the study had to be stopped.  The prisoners started to mentally decline and the guards had become physically abusive.  Each filling their roles, giving up their will to a 'title' or a 'name', had caused negative results all the way around.

This just goes to show that the agency we hold, even with the expected results that are known only to God - we still find comfort in having some kind of control over the lives we lead.  The questions we ask ALL have room for choice.  The answers we are given, give us a choice - we are shown we CAN decide. 

Whoever came up with "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" - lied.  Words are the most powerful source of control, so we must be careful in how we use them.  Our names all give us something to live by, and the positions we hold give us a responsibility.  Uphold those names and titles with dignity and reflect what they are meant to portray. 

It is through our inquisition and the magnifying of our personal beliefs, that we find satisfactory answers with the agency we've been given.

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