Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Danger of "Should"

I have heard it said that perfection is the enemy of good, since the pursuit of perfection can lead one to be dissatisfied with being good. In my opinion, however, it is not “perfection” that is the enemy of good, but rather the mis-perception of perfection. If we define “perfect” as an absolute requirement of our daily existence and as doing absolutely everything that anyone possibly could do without ever making a mistake (as is the standard outlook in “the world” and many religions), then it really is the enemy of good. If, on the other hand, we define it as “complete” or “whole” (in accordance with the Biblical footnotes), then it becomes the ultimate, eventual result of our striving for good - not an enemy at all.

This perspective allows us to move away from the tendency to evaluate our actions and progress in comparison to what we see others do (and the natural, works-based, Law of Moses competitiveness that accompanies trying to keep up with Bro. and Sis. Jones) and, instead, to move toward a more “grace-based” evaluation of whether or not we are doing all that *we* can do - regardless of whatever anyone else is doing. It also allows us to accept those things we simply can’t change yet and continue to work on those we think we can. After all, we teach that the Atonement of Christ covers what we are unable to do even “after all we can do.”

I think the enemy of good is “should” - when it is applied to what we see others doing around us. We “should” do whatever we are capable of doing - nothing more. We “should” try to find ways to do more than we currently are capable of doing - without guilt or shame if that is not as much as we might want to do. We "should" allow everyone that same effort, without judging them for their incompleteness and imperfection.

So, what should each person do? “Pray for guidance” might sound trite, but it is the only thing that ultimately can determine what we individually “should” do. I can’t do that for anyone else, and neither can anyone else do that for me. All we can do is what works for us - what we feel we are being asked to do. Of course, we follow the general counsel of the prophets and apostles, but how we live our own lives individually is up to us to feel and follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opportunity to attend to this,Ray.

I've never been a great fan of goals,I think they often distract from what needs to be done in front of our noses.

I think we should do all the good that each day offers us an opportunity to do.That may be an encouraging word to a family member, friend,neighbour or colleague-or all three.

When our lives are stacked up with goals we rarely notice or have the time for such things.Being fully human can somehow meld,in such circumstances,with the quest for the divine.