I submit that we are ruining ourselves with a mantra of self-indulgence that puts personal satisfaction above every other goal, duty or virtue. Our society is primed for a world of hurt.
I love chocolate cake. I’m talkin’ the molten chocolate kind made with real ganache topping. Guittard milk chocolate chips melted into heavy whipping cream and drizzled over moist, made-from-scratch cake. It’s filling and decadent and absolutely satisfying. (I love Ina Garten’s Recipe minus the instant coffee, plus milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet.)
I can honestly attest to the virtues of this dessert and it’s healing powers. I have baked this cake in times of celebration: Graduations, dinner parties, birthdays, holidays. I have baked this cake in times of sorrow and loss when a tangible reminder of ‘the sweet things in life’ is helpful. We live in the real world. Sometimes a slice of real chocolate cake helps a bitter moment pass a little gentler.
When I take that first bite of cake, I find myself wishing that I could eat it all day, every day. Wouldn’t that be amazing? But, yeah, let’s be real. No one can actually eat chocolate cake three times a day without some serious consequences. Sometimes, I can barely even finish a SLICE before my stomach complains of a little ache. It’s rich stuff. If I ate it for every meal, I would make myself dreadfully ill. Not only that, but I would be malnourished. And severely overweight. And pretty miserable as a host of other health problems developed. Statistically, the most likely consequences would be heart failure and diabetes. At some point, my indisputably wonderful chocolate cake would become the means of my demise. Death by chocolate.
We, as human beings are not designed for a diet of chocolate cake.
But HEY, I’m a free agent! I can do whatever I want to do with my body and my life and MY CAKE! Chocolate cake is good! No one can tell me it’s not. In fact, how DARE anyone tell me it’s not. It makes me happy. And, I think anyone else who wants to eat chocolate cake all the time is entitled to that right. Who are these doctors to tell me I shouldn’t have it? Who is society to stand in the way of our happiness? How dare they say it’s bad, I’ve tasted it and it’s helped me through hard times and made my life a joy. I will stand on a podium and petition to change laws getting in the way of chocolate cake. I will bring lawsuits to anyone who stands in my way. I’ll put chocolate cake in every popular TV show. I’ll put chocolate cake in the hand of every beautiful, happy, fit and healthy actress in hollywood so everyone will see how glamorous it is. I will threaten and cajole and bully anyone who even implies that chocolate cake isn’t good. I have that right.
Soon everyone will be on the band wagon. We’ll all be pro-chocolate cake and pro-happiness. Society will fall apart because people will be too ill to work. Hospitals will be overloaded and the doctors themselves will be too sick to help anyone. Children will grow up eating chocolate cake three meals a day, thinking it’s good for them. They won’t understand why they are always in pain. Our way of life will fail, but hey, it’s all in pursuit of our right to be happy, right?
Okay, okay, this parable is getting a bit heated, so I’ll give it a rest.
However, I submit that we are ruining ourselves with a mantra of self-indulgence that puts personal satisfaction above every other goal, duty or virtue. Our society is primed for a world of hurt.
With my whole heart, I believe there is a wise God who has DESIGNED us. God did not design us for a diet of chocolate cake. He has outlined what is meant for us in the words of his commandments and scriptures. We have no real happiness on any other path. All the indignant, personal satisfaction-seekers in the world can’t change that. I hope that we can find the wisdom to see these arguments and trends for what they are.
In the words of LDS Apostle Quentin Cook: “For many centuries the gospel of Jesus Christ has inspired beliefs and established standards of conduct as to what is righteous, desirable, and moral and results in happiness, felicity, and joy. However, the principles and basic morality the Savior taught are under serious attack in today’s world. Christianity is under attack. Many believe that what is moral has basically changed.9
We live in difficult times. There is an increased tendency to “call evil good, and good evil.”10 A world that emphasizes self-aggrandizement and secularism is cause for great concern. One prominent writer, not of our [LDS] faith, has put it this way: “Unfortunately I see little evidence that people are actually happier in the emerging dispensation, or that their children are better off, or that the cause of social justice is well-served, or that declining marriage rates and thinning family trees … promise anything save greater loneliness for the majority, and stagnation overall.”11“
Also, the wise words of Von Keetch from his LDS General Conference address titled, “Blessed and Happy Are Those Who Keep the Commandments of God” are illuminating:
“As you and I walk the paths of life and pursue our dreams, God’s commands and standards…can sometimes be difficult to understand. They may appear rigid and unyielding, blocking a path that looks fun and exciting and that is being followed by so many others. As the Apostle Paul described, “We see through a glass, darkly,”1 with such a limited perspective that we often cannot comprehend the great dangers hidden just below the surface.
But He who “comprehend[s] all things”2 knows exactly where those dangers lie. He gives us divine direction, through His commands and loving guidance, so that we may avoid the dangers…
We show our love for God—and our faith in Him—by doing our very best every day to follow the course that He has laid out for us and by keeping the commandments that He has given to us. We especially manifest that faith and love in situations where we don’t fully understand the reason for God’s commands or the particular path He is telling us to take.”
My God bless us with wisdom, I pray.