Monday, January 14, 2019

Focus on The Solution

This one is going to take me a bit, but if you bear with my I promise I'll do my best to make it worth your while.

If you use facebook even once every few days, you know how it goes. You log on and maybe your eye goes immediately to the number of messages or notifications you have or the "on this day" however many years ago suggested post facebook gives you. From that point, if you even scroll for 3 or more posts down your news feed there's an... I would guess 80% chance you'll see something that either uses profanity, complains, has a racy or sarcastic joke or picture or it's a news or blog article or video that gives society yet another thing to be sad, annoyed or angry about something.

It's ridiculous and feeds the plague of constant nagging we all see (on the internet or otherwise) to react, react, react without thinking for two seconds. The loudest voices these days are saying "listen to my woes! Hear ye, hear ye, I have something negative to say and doth require everyone to listen to how I feel about it!" Someone always has something bad to say. By the end of each day - and I kid you not, this is not an exaggeration - there is always at least one person or page or something else on facebook that someone shares that goes through the following process.

1. Hide the post,
2. Possibly report it for advocating something immoral, dishonest or manipulative, fully expecting facebook's staff or algorithms to completely brush it off as no big deal
3. Click the three dot menu and select "Hide all from [insert name of third party page or person here]"

I have continued this process for well over a year now, partly because of how much I have been trying to weed out all the mind-numbing, time-wasting, stupid distractions people share, but also to eventually (hopefully) eliminate everything from my feed that is not edifying and good for my own spiritual health.

Now, I'm aware that the way I have started this seems a bit counter-intuitive to what I titled this entry, so I'll start to turn this around now.

I totally understand that burying our heads in the sand and turning a blind eye to people's suffering is wrong. However, we also need to understand that one of Satan's most effective weapons is to overwhelm us with negativity and bring to our attention as many reasons as he can to focus on problems we cannot solve on our own. I've deliberately and vigorously been working on how I respond to negativity, a frown on someone's face, a stranger with a bad attitude, a corrupt politician, or even someone with a valid point and good intentions but who still has nothing but negative to say (even in the name of humor) in the moment.

My number one impulse over the last year has increasingly been to find any reason or method I can to respond to those people constructively, focusing on a solution and addressing their concern but in a way that encourages positive thinking and love toward others.

Because as far as the devil is concerned, as long as we are not actively focused on doing good, he couldn't care less if we are involved in grievous sins of commission or omission.

My efforts have required me to change the kinds of comments I give attention to and the conversations online I choose to be a part of. As an example, a while back I used to find Matt Walsh a catalyst for constructive conversation and problem solving, but I don't pay attention to almost anything he says anymore. I already know how far away from the doctrine of Christ and reality itself most churches today are straying. I've heard quite enough of how celebrities, clergy, politicians or "that person in that viral video" are completely abandoning common sense and cherry-picking which parts of scripture they want to follow.

Even when I'm not online there are so many mind numbing, time wasting, and even straight up evil things I'm constantly trying to combat and the method is the same. Focus on the solution and be more aware of which things are truly edifying and which are not. I think I'm starting to get a little better at it, too. My wife and I have become better at recognizing when we are rationalizing by making excuses to allow certain unholy and impure sources of entertainment into our home. We both wanted to see what the new show Titan Games (with Dwayne Johnson) was all about, but when my wife rightfully pointed out that the way they dress the women is completely unnecessary and revealing, we decided to avoid it. I also noticed recently how many times the devil tries to make cheap shots by subtly sneaking horrible messages into good causes. There is a new Weight Watchers commercial that uses a catchy beat and tune, but the lyrics are horrific!

And baby, worship me
Worship me
On your knees
Patiently, quietly, faithfully, worship me

The solution? Turn our attention more frequently and vigorously to God, the One we should really be worshiping.

-Perhaps replace the impulse to mock those with contrasting political views behind their back and make contemptuous jokes about them with an impulse to see what you have in common with them, and if there is truly a necessity to address evil intentions and actions, do so in a way that seeks to understand their heart and perspective. Only when we truly understand others can we begin to show them love in a way that a) they will accept and appreciate and b) will cause a desire within them to change their hearts. Back in 1972, Elder Marvin J. Ashton recalled a fantastic example of this from the life of President Abraham Lincoln.

"President Abraham Lincoln was once criticized for his attitude toward his enemies. 'Why do you try to make friends of them?' asked an associate. 'You should try to destroy them.'
'Am I not destroying my enemies,' Lincoln gently replied, 'when I make them my friends?'"

-Rather than hold a grudge against someone, even when we are justified in our hurt feelings, lets try replacing the impulse to dwell on it and gossip about them with a desire to resolve our concerns like adults, candidly and peacefully; and if those who wrong us don't believe they've done something wrong or just aren't ready to make things right, let's not allow them to live in our heads rent free. One of my most deeply held beliefs about dealing with toxic people is as follows. "I do not care what you think about me. I just don't and I don't need to. However, I will always, always care how you feel." And I don't. I lost the energy to care about what people think of me a long time ago, but my desire to empathize with how people feel has only grown exponentially over the years.

-Instead of emphasizing over and over and over and over and over again the corruption of "Billy John Bob" over in yonder country, let's avoid fighting fire with fire and instead simply teach the good things we know to be true. To combat people's effort to try and destroy people's lives and families, let's take every opportunity to spread the divine value of the human soul and eternal family relationships and then exemplify those ideas in how we live and treat those around us.


There are any more examples I could rattle off about how to respond to negativity in a way that is constructive, edifying and love. But if I did this article would be way too long to keep anyone's attention all the way through.

Let's talk about good and then go out and do good.

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