Saturday, April 25, 2009

Freedom Is As Freedom does

Having just written a talk for church on education and the need for freedom of thought and expression I thought this was a timely article.  Click here to go to the article.

A couple of years ago I read the book “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck, and jotted down this passage.  “The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.  And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.  And this I must fight against: any idea, religion or government which limits or destroys the individual......I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.  Surely, I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us fron  the uncreative beasts.......Our species is the only creative species and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man.”

I was quite moved by this idea of individual freedom, and yet, at the same time, bothered by what I perceived to be a focus on conformity of thought in the church.   Surely, God wouldn’t have made us thinking creatures to begin with if he didn’t expect us to use our minds and be individuals!  

I  then came across this quote from a talk by Elder Hugh B. Brown, in which he said basically the same thing as Steinbeck. “We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom in the Church ……… and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it……….”

 God wants us to think freely and decide how we as individuals will apply the correct principles that we are taught. This can sometimes be a difficult thing to accept for those who want to see everything in terms of black and white, because it means that there isn’t always an easy answer to everything, and it demands that we be tolerant and accepting of the decisions of others, even if we don’t agree with them.  

Another great Hugh B. Brown quote:  “Just as the truths of science must be tested and verified by reason and factual investigation, so the moral and spiritual truths which the world is seeking from its prophets must be proved and validated in the experience of men.  In his search for truth, every man must be true to himself.  He must answer to his own reason and to his own moral conscience.  Anything less than this would betray his dignity as a human being and a child of God.”  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Steps

For those of you who may not know, I had surgery on my foot about 4 1/2 weeks ago to correct a painful bunion.  Having never broken a bone in my life, this has been a real learning experience.  I had talked to people who had the surgery and so I kind of new what to expect but there is nothing like actually experiencing something yourself.  The week before my surgery I came down with a bad case of the flu and ended up in bed for the whole week.  There was even some question as to whether I should go ahead with the surgery since I had a fever for most of that time.  Fortunately, the fever had lifted by surgery day and I did go ahead with it.  

There are a few things that this experience has taught me.  First, laying in bed for three weeks and hobbling around on crutches has given me a new appreciation for what it must be like to be handicapped.  I have a great deal of empathy for people who need crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. to get around all the time.  Fortunately for me, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  But for those who have chronic illnesses and conditions that make getting around difficult, my heart goes out to them.

Second, I have always been an independent person, so relying on others to help take care of me is not an easy thing for me to do.  Through this experience, I have realized how little it takes to lose our self-reliance, and how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband, who took time off work during an extremely busy time, to look after me.  I am also grateful for good friends & family who took time out of their busy days to call me, bring over meals, sit and visit, play games, bring me flowers and magazines, and take me out for a drive and lunch.  I feel deep gratitude for these kindnesses and have a renewed desire to try and be more aware of things I can do to be a better person myself.

Third, I have developed a new appreciation for the miracle of life and the wonder of the human body.  It amazes me that when injured, the body knows exactly what to do to heal itself.  All I have to do are a few things to help facilitate this healing, like keeping my foot elevated, staying off of it, applying ice to reduce swelling, and keeping the incision clean.  My body takes care of the rest!  I am not sure I will ever understand how it does that, but just knowing that it does convinces me that there is a God in heaven who created us.

The last thing that I have learned is that "by small things are great things are brought to pass".  There have been many little milestones along the way.  Coming off the anti-inflammatory medication, getting rid of the ice boot, getting my stitches out, getting the pin out, having my first shower without the protective boot, replacing big gauze bandages with bandaids, walking without crutches, etc.  These are all little things, but each milestone has given me something to look forward to, and looking back over the last 4 1/2 weeks, I realize I have really made a lot of progress.  I have learned that in life, some things take time, and that I need to be satisfied with every small step of achievement along the way, for that is how great things happen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Years

Wow!  I can't believe that it has been two years since my dad passed away.  Time really does fly!  Anniversaries can be difficult  for some, but for me, I guess it is a chance to take some time to think about my dad and remember him and the influence he has been in my life.  I'm not really one to visit cemeteries and gravesides on anniversary days because I don't feel that I need to be at the place where a person is buried to feel close to them.  I feel my dad near me whenever I think about him and that is a comfort to me.