Sunday, November 13, 2016


The game of what if was a favorite of mine when I was growing up.

What if I had been taller?

What if I had been born with wealthy parents?

What if I was so smart I didn't have to go to school?

Without disclosing any more of my insecurities, I will just confess that I probably spent way too much time daydreaming.

During my more mature years, I didn't really quit playing the game of what if, I just changed the content of the questions. One of my favorite adult versions of the game has to do with daydreaming about how my world would be different if certain historical characters had made different choices.

What if Adam and Eve chose to eat veggies because they didn't like fruit?

What if Moses stayed in the valley because he didn't like to climb mountains?

What if Columbus chose to stay on land because he was always sea sick when on boats?

What if Joseph Smith chose not to believe the promises in the scriptures?

What if Benjamin Franklin chose not to fly kites in the rain?

If I really want to get into dangerous territory I venture into playing the what if game with even more personal questions?

What if my ancestors had lived in Africa rather than Ireland?

What if my grandparents had chosen not to listen to those ‘Mormons?’

What if I had gone to England rather than Mexico on my mission as a young man?

We don't have to play the what if game for very long before we realize that many of the conditions of whatever cultural norms we reside in, are the result of someone having choices placed before them, and then having the courage to act decisively. I have often felt that the only thing worse than making a wrong decision, is being incapable of making any decisions at all.

I have little doubt that we have all been in a situation with someone where, after listening to them vacillate for what seemed like an eternity, we wanted to scream, ‘please make a decision even if it is wrong.’

Every time I am in one of those situations, I am reminded of Dr. Seuss’ character, the ‘Zode,’ who stood at the fork in the road, not knowing whether to go this way or that; who finally decided to start out in both directions at once and accomplished nothing more than splitting his pants.

If what my parents taught me in my youth about decisions has validity and I am very certain it has, I am left with the belief that there is no such thing as not making a decision. This principle gains even greater weight when we come to realize that in the end we will all be an accumulation of acting or being acted upon. When we choose to make a decision we are the captain of our accumulating selves.

When we are in the limbo state of indecision we are yielding ourselves to be acted upon.

From the very beginning our forefathers, including Adam and Eve, were faced with having to make decisions. In the Garden our Father explained to them that their earthly probationary period would not just include, but was for the purpose that they might learn to distinguish between good and evil and choose the one and eschew the other. This fundamental admonition became the basis of learning to use their agency correctly so that they would make decisions which would result in growth rather than destruction, which would give them forward momentum rather than stagnation.

As in so many aspects of our modern society, we have become victims of our supposed sophistication when it comes to making decisions. Thereby, we have redefined the results of indecisiveness, believing that standing at the fork in the road with our pants split in no way will cause us to be acted upon, nor will it result in any ill effects upon our character.

The voice of the people elects officials who are entrusted with the task of making hard decisions which will be for the good of the whole.
These elected officials hire expensive experts to make feasibility studies so that they will have the facts to make a decision for the good of the whole.

These expert facts are then debated in endless councils so that a decision can be made for the good of the whole.

By the time this has been accomplished it is time to elect new officials.

The pot holes remain unfilled.

The water pipes continue to age.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

If any of us complain too loudly about the stagnation brought about by the indecisions of our elected officials, we are soon brought about by the realization that we are but pots calling the kettles black.
We find these same scenarios being enacted in our homes, schools, churches and every other unit of our communities. Since all of us live in glass houses and all of ‘them’ are ‘you’ and ‘me’ we should not and dare not start casting stones.

It takes very little imagination to walk in Joshua’s shoes and understand his frustration when he challenged the Tribes of Israel to stop halting between two decisions.

Sometimes I get so upset about all the stagnation which has resulted because I see so much halting between decisions, that I almost feel like writing someone, somewhere about something. But the day is almost spent – what if I do it tomorrow – or what if I do it the day after.

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