Sunday, February 23, 2014


Some years ago an article appeared in the daily newspaper in Ann Landers’ column. She had received a letter from a woman which moved me beyond the usual casual perusal to a rather lengthy period of meditation.

The woman had written seeking the answer to an earth-shaking dilemma. She wrote that she had unwisely entered into a pact with her husband to quit smoking since the habit they shared was irritating the allergies of her young son.

Her husband was honoring the pact, but she had decided to go underground with her addiction and returned to the self-destructive nicotine needs which she enjoyed before the baby had come along and she had unwisely entered into the pact with her husband. As soon as her husband went off to work she secreted herself in her garage or basement to satisfy the cravings which long ago made non-smoking an almost impossible choice.

The reason she was writing Ann was to obtain her approval of a more permanent and less sacrificial solution she had devised.

The query of this pillar of motherhood spewed forth in the following words: Did Ann Landers think that it might be better to put her son up for adoption, naturally, into a home where the parents refrained from the use of tobacco, so that she and her husband might return to the open pleasures and enjoyments of their cigarettes?

Ann finished that day’s article blasting the woman with her opinions on the woman’s totally selfish self-centeredness. Ann Landers’ final statement in that day’s article to the misguided soul who had put a weed in a priority position over a human life, (and Ann may have been right) was when she counseled the woman’s husband to choose to keep the son and discard the wife.

I will leave this ridiculous tale and write about the direction my intense pondering took me after reading this article.

In this brief column we find capsulized how individuals in our self-absorbed society are conditioning themselves to solve problems so as not to cause inconvenience or detours from what they perceive to be the independent rights of the selfish self-centered life.

The plague is not to be contained with the individual’s abuses. We find families, communities and nations succumbing to the sickness of selfish self-centeredness. Some have described this disease with the words: As long as I get mine I don't really care what grief it might cause you.

We witness governments attempting to cover up mismanagement and faulty decisions by extending national indebtedness and levying overburdening taxation.

We find fewer and fewer of the world’s population gaining more and more of the world’s wealth while more and more of the world’s population find fewer and fewer beans on their plates.

We witness an up to date society rampant with promiscuity and immorality, attempting to cover their lack of restraint by decrying the intolerance and suffocating restrictions of their forefathers.

We see church buildings with dwindling congregations because free will has become an individual right to the extent that no religion has the right to impugn or suggest that there might be Universal God given laws.

We find preaching of the Word of God being replaced by entertainment and colossal concerts in order to attract an audience whose individualism is easily offended and never questioned.

We find the bonding which once held families as the single most important unit of society being replaced by unbound masses which become selfishly separated as individually they seek to add to their own materialistic mountains.

Fearing what I am about to say will drift ghostly by ears long ago shut up to any words which might threaten one’s right to selfish self-centeredness, tremblingly I offer the following observations.

The time may be ripe for a national recall of our methods of problem solving. Since we have only been in universal slavery to our selfish self-centeredness for a few decades, hopefully we will be able to reroute our course before our self-indulgence and unwillingness to account for our actions turns our reluctant limpid resolves into rottenness.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Officials elected to serve the populace must eliminate their self-serving cover-up posturing and begin to act with responsibility and vision.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Being elected on the direction the wind might be blowing and braying platitudes which please the masses might magnify votes, but it will never build nations.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Walking the tight rope of trying to be all things to all people may improve popularity ratings, but by and by it breeds a doleful society unable to resolve current issues while continually mortgaging its future.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Society must once again realize that indulgence of transgression speeds nations toward the results of an equation which states that acceptance and covering up of immorality always multiplies itself at an alarming rate careening towards correctional self-destruction.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Churches must stop trying to compete with the entertainment industry and return to the day when congregations filled pews to feast upon the goodness of the Word, were buoyed up with a reason for resuming, found a refuge of stability based on eternal truths and were sustained in a belief in an existence which extended beyond the grave.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Families must turn from constantly glancing at the glitter and glow of the trinkets of the commercialized channels and seek the eternal truths upon which eternal relationships are based.

The hour is nigh if not long spent when: We likewise need to quickly look to our priorities in life. It might just be that because of our selfish self-centeredness we are nearer to losing it all than we realize.


  1. Two solutions come to mind; term limits for elective offices and daily, sincere scripture study and application.

    I miss Ann Landers

    Paul Hansen

  2. Bill,

    I just got to reading this most recent of your THOUGHTS from last Friday on Selfish Self-Centeredness.

    Another real gem!

    I fear that our influence is limited and that the world will move further and further away from moral and ethical responsible behavior. I further am afraid to confess I look forward to reading your THOUGHTS more than anything else including my lessons and the Book or Mormon. Nothing else really make me think the same way. I remember when I was visiting various schools after high school I was especially drawn to the professors at Chapman. Those were the old days when most of Chapman’s students were either going into the ministry or education with a few science and music majors. Two professors there drew me in and I miss them very much. First there was Dr. Williams, my philosophy teacher and an ordained Disciples of Christ minister. The second, where my major finally landed, Dr. DeYoung was my inspiration to study psychology also an ordained minister in the DOC. Though irreverent at times he led us to think!

    I think I would really have enjoyed being in your class. I so appreciate your dedication to writing weekly and sharing with us.

    Hope you are having a great week. My best to your lovely wife. I hope she is doing well.

    Mike Byrne

  3. Wonderful!!! Thank you.

    Kathryn Eisenbise

  4. REALLY REALLY GOOD!!!! Loved this.

    Debbie Lark

  5. Indeed! The hour is nigh at hand and we'd better be prepared! I'm giving the Relief Society lesson tomorrow and it's Dallin H. Oaks' talk from Oct. Conference, 2013,
    titled: "No Other Gods" We are so blessed to have the gospel and prophets to lead us during these trying times.

    Carla Johnson

  6. Bill,
    I've decided to only say a few things about the value of church and churches.
    Based on my own personal journey it is difficult for me to see how the world, or at least very many of those in the western world could sustain a scriptural knowledge, (or I should say {for most} an awareness), of God as I understand Him without the institutions which perpetuate the teaching of the gospels, the Christian churches. Furthermore, multitudes of lives have been improved, even saved if you will, as a result of the efforts of the members of churches, and multitudes have undergone transformations such that they have become blessings rather than liabilities to others.
    However, these teachings are inconsistent, sometimes, (seemingly), intentionally biased towards some personal or institutional objective rather than seeking to truly understand the Word, and have become a favorite tool for politicians and people with personal agenda. We (almost) all claim ourselves to be "true seekers" of truth. However, we are less likely to follow wherever Truth leads than to seek the path that leads to "truth" as we apprehend it.
    The scriptures have endured available for us all due to the institutions which hallow and unfortunately sometimes exploit them. This is undeniable goodness. (to me)

    There is a yin and a yang, heads and tails, a night that is an inevitable part of each day. So with the churches which wishing to do good, thinking themselves to do good, believing themselves to be in the service of The Good; because of their great power and appeal are singularly situated to cause great personal harm, both to their own and to others. They often do so; this includes "The Church."

    An aside:
    How far does our agency go? What is given, what is garnered? What is actually by foreordination, chance, that we believe to be by choice?

    Paul Maddox