What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
This gnomic quote eloquently expresses the consequence of apathy. While it largely alludes to the political realm, my post will focus on the religious realm (though I seem to have a knack for intertwining the two).
I believe that one of my main pet peeves is encountering somebody who satisfices, who is complacent and apathetic. These persons are content in their ignorance. I’m sorry to burst their bubble, but ignorance is not bliss.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30)
It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. (D&C 131:6)
On my mission in Honduras, I would frequently encounter people with this “bad habit”. They wouldn’t ask questions. They wouldn’t use their brain. They didn’t want to exert the mental energy and begin a thought process that might make them change things in their comfortable lifestyle. They were satisficers, content with what they had.
These people we tried to teach simply didn’t care. I don’t understand that. I think that if I didn’t have the gospel, that I would want to have some big questions answered. Some of them might be:
- Did Christ really exist?
- Was Christ really resurrected?
- Did I exist before I was born here on Earth?
- What will heaven be like? Will there be simply a heaven and a hell? If so, why should I strive to be better? Why exert any effort? As long as I don’t do something bad, I can go to heaven, right? Why try to go the extra mile?
- Why aren’t there prophets today?
- Who composed the Bible? Is that all of God’s word? If so, why did He stop?
- I love my wife. But I don’t like “until death do you part“. Can’t I be with her in heaven?
- Are God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit three beings, or one?
- What is God like? Does He have a body? Is he a floating mass of Spirit? Does He even care about us?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- In the Bible, they talk about temples. Why aren’t there temples today?
- The Bible talks about baptism for the dead. Why doesn’t anybody do that today?
- What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? What should I be doing?
- Is abortion evil? Why should I have kids? They’re expensive, and require a lot of energy to raise and take care of…
- Is it bad for me to have pre-marital sex? To drink? To do drugs?
- The Bible is a record of the Jews. Didn’t God speak to anybody else? Why are they so special?
- My church teaches about original sin, and how Adam and Eve are horrible people who committed a grievous sin. What’s that all about?
- Is there a true church? How can anybody claim to be the only true church?
- My pastor said he could baptize me because he went to a school and received a diploma in theology. Is that how God’s power and authority is obtained? Through studying?
Ladies and gents, the list could go on. The list is endless. There are so many questions that could be asked. Pick one! Research! Study! Learn! Open your mind!
These people I would try to teach in Honduras didn’t care about any of that. They didn’t want to know. One might speculate that the reason they didn’t want to know is because that deep down inside, they knew that they’d believe their newly discovered answer, and consequently would have to change their lifestyle, behavior, and habits. But that’s too much work. Nobody wants to do that. Change is a bad thing.
And it’s not just in the religious realm. Apathetic satisficers who watch five minutes of CNN and think they know fact from fiction in our world and country need a wake-up lesson. People who read a high school textbook and think that there’s no other view, belief, or fact out there need to learn better. We need to ask questions. We need to probe, ponder, and pray.
We have all the answers. The gospel is amazing. Sure, there are some things that are harder to believe than others. But we need to learn milk before meat, precept upon precept. God wouldn’t have it any other way. It wasn’t mean to be easy. We’re not expected to glide along through the gospel.
“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation”
—Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith
We have to sacrifice, not satisfice. We have to get rid of our bad habits. We have to seek truth. We have to help others do the same. We have to exert mental energy and search through spiritual matters to gain better understanding and knowledge.
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. (D&C 93:36)
May we all ask relevant questions, with the goal of learning, growing, and understanding—not undermining the faith of another and spewing ad hominem invective. May we have open, constructive dialogue. And may we all be edified and rejoice together in the process.