Monday, October 19, 2009

Computers, Donuts, and Defiance

I know you've all see it happen. Today it was sneaking up to the laptop that I unfortunately left on the couch, pounding on the keys with all his might, turning his head to look at me with his big brown eyes when I reminded him yet again that "no, babies don't play with Daddy's expensive computer." He kept those puppy dog eyes focused on me, and after a moment I saw his hand reach slowly back toward the keyboard. Another no, another pause, another attempt at hitting the keys--all while looking straight at me. Was it a look of, "I'll keep her distracted with my eyes while my hands play with the computer and she'll never notice," or was it a look of, "I don't need you telling me what to do all the time"? Maybe even just an, "Is she really going to take this away like she said she would?"

It is one thing to make a poor choice or do something wrong without really knowing what you've done. We've all had those times--where as soon as we've done it we know we were in the wrong. I'm not saying that we should ignore the seriousness of such occasions, but I think there's a far greater danger in knowing exactly what we are doing when we go against what we know is right. We've been "instructed sufficiently that [we] know good from evil" (2 Nephi 2:5), and I think we would all agree that a significant portion of our poor choices each day are things we know perfectly well are wrong. But we do them anyway.

In the past we looked our parents in the eye, assuming they would never be able to see through us, and with an air of defiance did things we knew were wrong. Now we do the same to spouses, children, doctors, bosses, professors, police officers, store clerks, road signs, government officials, bishops, apostles, prophets, and even Deity. Our thoughts may include the following:
  • "no one will notice"
  • "really, what are they going to do?"
  • "so what?"
  • "the consequences can't be that bad"
  • "I don't need people telling me what to do all the time"
My personal favorites:
  • "but I'm different than everyone else"
  • "I know what I'm doing"
We have been instructed sufficiently but "a knowledge of truth is of little value unless we apply it in making correct decisions. Consider for a moment a man, heavily overweight, approaching a bakery display. In his mind are these thoughts: The doctor told you not to eat any more of that. It’s not good for you. It just gives momentary gratification of appetite. You’ll feel uncomfortable the rest of the day after it. You’ve decided not to have any more. But then he hears himself say, 'I’ll have two of those almond twists and a couple of those chocolate doughnuts. One more time won’t hurt. I’ll do it just once more, and this will be the last time.'” (Elder Richard G. Scott, Conference Report, October 2007)

Altogether too often, and with that air of defiance, I take the donut (both literally and metaphorically, sadly).

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