We each want to feel better about our self. As hard as we strive to be humble and unassuming, we often feel the need to look good in the eyes of our friends, neighbors and co-workers.
If a person lives in a neighborhood where most houses are similar and he wants his house to stand out, he has two options.
He can collect several paint samples and compare colors for eaves, window frames, etc. then spend several days in the sun painting. He can then plant flower bulbs that will come up in the spring, sun loving flowers for summer, and hearty plants for late autumn. He can plant beautiful bushes and shrubbery he can trim and sculpt. He can maintain a manicured lawn with sharp edges and uniform-blades of grass.
It’s a lot of work, but surely, after such time and effort his house will stand out.
His other option requires much less effort. He can simply gather a bucket of rocks from his yard, a few eggs from the fridge and a couple cans of spray paint. Thus armed, he makes his way through the neighborhood smashing windows, splattering homes with eggs and spraying slander on every door.
There’s no denying that both options will make his house stand out. The first option makes his house stand out because of hard work and diligence. The other makes his house look better by comparison. In reality, his house has not improved at all; it’s an illusion.
These two options are used everyday by people wanting to look better in the eyes of others. Some of us work hard on self-improvement while others wander through life throwing rocks and painting slander.
Self-improvement is hard work and takes time. It demands a lot of thought and evaluation. It requires remodeling and on occasion complete renovation. It demands forward planning to assure that what we plant today will come up as desired in the spring.
It’s much simpler to shatter the windows of a neighbor. Spreading gossip is easier than spreading compost, but in reality, your hands become much dirtier.
Sadly, meanness has become popular and a sign of success. One can hardly turn on a radio without hearing a talk show host mocking someone. We popularize reality shows that embarrass and belittle people.
American author John Steinbeck said:
“It has always seemed strange to me the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
We are in danger of becoming a society that admires sharpness rather than kindness, aggression over meekness, and pride before humility. Sometimes, in an effort to improve ourselves, religious people can forget the teachings that are at the core of our religions. In an effort to appear faithful, we can begin throwing stones at others to make ourselves look better by comparison. Throwing stones can temporarily make one look good, but in reality, when we all start throwing stones, we all lose windows. It’s a much better use of our time improving our own lives by planting a few flowers in the neighborhood.
Video: Go and Sin No More (3;22, Source: Mormon Channel)
Jesus Christ teaches about compassion when confronted with a woman accused of adultery.
Audio: The Candy Bomber (58:00, Source: Mormon Channel)
The Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen, shares memories of bringing joy to children in worn-torn Berlin after World War II.