I am called upon to teach classes and lead groups in discussions. The students have been ordered to take my classes by the court system. Nevertheless, they chose to be compliant and attend. Often times, there is someone who will want to talk about other people’s short comings, rather than focus on what caused the trouble that brought them to my class.
One time, when beginning a Prime For Life Class (a DUI course about drugs, alcohol and the path to addiction), a student asked in a voice of defiance, “Well, what about texting? That causes accidents!” “True, it does”, I responded and then asked, “And your point is?” The class was silent for a moment, and then another student in the back said loud enough for all to hear, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Another blamed “the system” for young people repeatedly getting into trouble with the law. He said adamantly, “It’s the system!”. This student talked about young men who had worked for him, who could not pay court fines, and subsequently went to jail, learned more ways to commit crimes, and then had more court cases and more fines. I asked, “Who chose to break the law in the first place? Are the young men not to be held accountable for their actions?”
In another setting, a student talked about neighbors who profess to be Christians, yet indulge in sexual promiscuity. This student’s rhetoric put the focus on others’ misdeeds.
It is easier to point the finger at others than direct it towards ourselves.
(When I teach in a secular setting, I teach only that which is allowed, keeping Church & State separate, but for this blog, I am expressing my own personal belief system in a God)
The following is from the Bible (King James Version)
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
The ancient teachings of Jesus lead us to understand human nature, that we tend to look at other’s faults rather than our own. We also may blame circumstances, or the “system”.
How is it that some people know how to be successful and happy within the guidelines of the law and others do not? Or is it that some are taught true principles, but choose to do something else, listen to another voice that is not in their highest and best. Perhaps they choose to listen to promptings of greed, envy, gluttony, lust and fear. Soon, the whisperings of the “Still Small Voice” of goodness and virtue are no longer heard, drowned out by the “Get yours first” voice that prompts evil intentions and selfish behavior. When my thoughts lead to selfish actions or even addiction, I endanger my relationships and other responsibilities.
What is missing? Is there some internal mechanism, like the spring to a clock that keeps it working? That internal dialogue that says, “no, I am not going to do that” or “This is the direction my life needs to go”.
The wonderful thing about life is that we all have free-agency. We only lose that right to choose when we break the laws of the land and endanger self or others.
It is exciting that I get to choose who I will BE. I need to learn what it is I want to be and what consequences or rewards there are for certain ways of thinking and behaving. I need to know how to be and what that feels like and looks like to be able to incorporate it into my life. As a Christian, my goal is to be Christ-like in my behavior. If I am truly Christ-like, I will be humble, penitent and look to my own shortcomings and pray for strength to overcome them. Prayer is a gateway to learn from my Heavenly Father.
I learn from the Bible about what Christ was like and how to follow him. I also learn from the words of a Prophet of the Lord, Thomas S. Monson
“Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.” 1
1. From the General Conference Address entitled, the-perfect-path-to-happiness?lang=eng">“The perfect Plan to Happiness” October 2016