Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Despair and Hope

Ok, so I wasn't really despairing, I just thought it made for a good post title. But I've been reading (well, listening really, it's an audio book) this book by Mark Levin called Liberty and Tyranny. In it, he details all the crappy, corrupt things the government has done to twist and contort our country into what it is now. It's very enlightening, and very maddening/frustrating at the same time, because you come away feeling like you've been robbed over and over again. So I've been thinking lately about what my part is in all this - how do I react to this information, and what can I do about it all? The first thought was - not much. I can't reform Washington, I can't make Obama and his cronies respect and live according to the Constitution. Does that mean I give up, crawl into my little corner and ignore the rest of the world? That didn't feel right either, for several reasons (least of all being that it's hard to sleep like that). Then, while trying to decide what to teach in the Gospel Essentials class I teach on Sundays, the answer presented itself in the form of chapter 27 - Work and Personal Responsibility. I see this as the answer for a couple different reasons:
1. I can't make others be more responsible, but I can be more responsible myself. I can't force others to work for their own support, but I can work for mine and my family's.
2. Rolling up my sleeves and getting to work will give me less time to focus on the negatives, while at the same time helping me provide for those dependent on me for their support, helping me see positive results from my actions.
3. Lastly, perhaps in some small way I can help influence and encourage others to do likewise.

I've taught this lesson a couple times in this class (been in this calling for over two years now, you know). One line in the lesson always used to be difficult for me to really accept, a quote from David O. McKay: Let us realize that the privelege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success." The back of my mind would always think "pfff, not working is better, duh." But now, having seen the country struggle its way through this depression, and seeing the government bent on taking people's initiative and motivation for self-reliance and responsibility and accountability away, and replace it with a handout mentality, I've begun to realize how right Pres. McKay was. I think of those underemployed or unemployed, unable (and some now unwilling) to find work, either because the search is too hard, too long, too frustrating, or because they are used to having their needs met for them by someone else and they no longer feel compelled to provide for themselves. I hope to avoid both of those scenarios, whether or not I have a job. I am grateful for the work I have, that it allows me to provide for my family a comfortable standard of living, even if (and perhaps this is a blessing) we don't have everything we wish we did. Whatever the future holds, I now understand a little better what my parents were trying to teach me all those years - that you NEED to work, not just for what your work brings you, but for what working does FOR you and TO you. If those lessons can be spread a little farther, at least hopefully to my kids, by the work I do, I feel that will be all the success I can ask for.