It seems that more and more people are thinking that standards don’t matter.  Even worse, some people think we should not have standards at all.

Standards matter and are very important.

Millions of cars travel the roadways on tires that meet federal safety standards for tires.  The wiring and electrical infrastructure of millions of homes meet certain building codes for safety and fitness of purpose.  The running water in your house meets EPA standards for purity.  Cell phones must meet FCC standards for communication devices.  International trade and sales are made possible by uniform standard weights and measures.

We have standards for nearly everything.  We ruthlessly impose standards for inanimate objects with no will of their own.

Why are we so loath to even suggest standards for people when people are so much more important than objects?

The reasons people don’t want standards likely fall into a few common categories.  1- Fear of not meeting the standards so it is better to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist, 2- Ambivalence about whether the standards matter, 3- Ulterior motives to be allowed to behave badly to inspire bad behavior in others, or 4- Observed Hypocrisy where people who are not perfect continue to push for a higher standard while falling short themselves.  None of these reasons are good ones or sufficient.  Standards matter.

We need standards so that we can know what sort of behavior to aspire to.  Standards are required if we want to measure our own behavior to see how we are doing.

What standards are you following?

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I was at a viewing the other day.  A granddaughter to the dearly departed was late.  As the viewing was ending and the casket was being closed for the last time, the granddaughter showed up at the back of the room.  She felt powerless to ask for a few moments and I saw the emotional tragedy unfolding.  She was heartbroken that she was too late to see her grandmother’s body one last time.

I sat there thinking, “someone should say something”.  It was killing me to see this emotional turmoil unfolding.  The granddaughter would miss out on once-in-a-lifetime event because she was late.  The casket was even being closed slowly enough so that the moment of loss was prolonged.  Again I thought: “someone really should say something”.

Then I had an epiphany.  I *am* someone.  So I spoke up to ask for a few more moments and an emotional tragedy was averted.

How often have you seen something sad, improper, or inappropriate unfolding and said nothing?  All it takes is to get past your discomfort and do something.

Be someone who makes a difference and speak up.

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When we behave well, we have more freedom.  If we all live by correctly interpreted principles, then we have less rules to follow because we govern ourselves well.

It is commonly understood in LDS Doctrine (and by many Christians) that the Law of Moses was implemented (in part) because the Children of Israel did not follow correct principles.  Because they could not correctly govern themselves they were given many rules to follow instead.  One point of the rules was to conform behavior to correct principles.

We see this same thing going on today where people quit following what used to be acceptable behavioral norms and new rules had to be instituted and enforced.

Jaywalking was not a ticketed offense until way too many people kept darting into traffic to cross the street.  Because people were not being safe, a law was implemented to help keep them safe.  A failure of some people to govern themselves properly created a need for a new law and a subsequent loss of freedom.  Food was not always banned in libraries, littering was not always a punishable offence, public urination was not always illegal either.  Good behavior would have prevented these laws.

There comes a critical point where enough people are not figuring it out on their own and then laws or rules need to be implemented to uphold the standard.  If enough people were putting garbage in garbage cans we wouldn’t need an anti-littering ordinance.

Of course, reasonable minds can disagree about what the rules of civilized behavior should be and that is why we have regular elections.

Failure to understand this connection between behavior and new rules can lead to mistaken conclusions.

This concept came to mind lately when reading a post about modesty.  You can read it here.

One part of the author’s argument is that because some rules were not in place with regard to BYU’s dress code (in the past) that dressing sort of immodestly used to be okay.  (Also that it is somehow bizarre to teach children ideals in dress and morals, but I digress).

The truth is that prior to the rules, people self-governed in sufficient numbers so that a rule was not needed.  As people began to slide down the scale of immodesty in greater numbers, the rules were implemented as a way to hold up the standard of what is to be considered appropriately modest or not.

If you don’t want to have to follow rules, follow better and more refined principles and the rules will eventually go away.

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My grandfather is in the hospital dying.  He has congestive heart failure and will probably die in the next day or two.  Not bad for an 89 year old guy.  His wife of 65 years just died a few days ago.  She was 82.  If you do the math, that means they got married when he was 24 and she was 17.  Both of them have lived long and full lives.

My grandfather served in WWII.  He was wounded in the invasion of Sicily, later served as a forward scout, and got wounded again.  He still has shrapnel in his body from the war that the doctors did not think was worth taking out.  He had a massive heart attack in the mid 1980’s that left him with less than half of his previously normal heart function.  He recovered and kept working at different projects he loved.  He had knee replacement surgery and kept going.  He recently had a pacemaker put in because he was having fainting spells.  Then that one gave out and he had another one put in.  He is only finally passing on now because he and his wife had an agreement that she would go first.

My grandmother was living in my grandfather’s home town when he returned from serving in the Army.  They met and got married.  My grandmother had Celiac disease and poly-cystic kidney disease.  Because of her weakness in her kidneys, she used all sorts of herbal remedies that were supposed to promote kidney health.  Her kidney disease is often fatal due to high blood pressure and renal failure.  After a team of doctors examined her over many visits over many years, they did express their surprise (and I suspect some delight) that she was living so long.  She finally died this week of complications related to her own congestive heart failure.

I’m sure my grandmother was welcomed joyously when she died.  I’m equally sure my grandfather will be welcomed just as joyfully when he dies.

Death really is just another step along the path of our progression.  In order for us to progress, we have to die.

Just as certainly as we all die, we will all be made alive again.  It is part of the plan.

I’m glad to know things are going according to plan.

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Too many tragic stories include the often heard phrase: “I didn’t think it could happen to me”.

One of the best ways to be prepared is to realize that it can happen to you then take reasonable precautions.

I realize that it is possible that a woman could enter into my life and wreck my marriage.  Because it is possible I guard against it by maintaining a certain distance in my relationships with women who I am not already married to.  I realize that a man could also enter my wife’s life and wreck our marriage so I continue to maintain our relationship and continuously court her.  I am prepared to keep my marriage happy and healthy by realizing that there is a possibility of bad things happening and injuring our marriage.

I realize that our home could be broken into, accidents or fires can happen, and other possibly dangerous events.  So I lock the doors at night (and during the day too if we are not in and out of the house regularly), take reasonable precautions for our safety, and maintain against certain hazards.  It is part of being mindful of certain risks.

I had a friend who left his bike out overnight and was warned that he should probably bring his bike inside because of the rough part of town he lived in.  He replied “I’m not worried, I’ve got two bikes”.  Both of his bikes were stolen within 30 days of uttering that phrase.

Most of these incidents are anecdotal, but they prove the point that to be prepared, you have to be aware that bad things can happen.  Don’t be paranoid and worried.  Take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable problems and most of your worries will take care of themselves.  Casting caution to the wind and believing you are immune to danger or risks will only end in heart break, pain, and that dreadful phrase: “I didn’t think it could happen to me.”

Remember that it can happen to you, be prepared, and quit worrying.

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