Monday, January 21, 2013

A Greater Good

Yesterday in Sunday School, our teacher, a doctor, shared a story about a young man who was ready to serve a mission.  As a child, the young man suffered from a condition that in most people doesn't go away, but it did for him.  Because the condition was gone, the young man wondered if he should indicate that he'd had that condition as a child.  The doctor counseled him to be completely honest in his mission application and indicate that yes, he'd had this condition.

The young man was concerned that if he indicated the past condition, he might be limited in where he could serve.  The doctor offered to write a letter explaining the health situation and clarifying that the young man was capable of serving without restrictions.

The mission papers were sent in, and the young man waited and waited for his call.  After several weeks, I believe the family asked the doctor to intervene and see if he could find out what the hang-up was.  After some sleuthing, they found that the doctor's letter had been overlooked and there was indeed some concern about where to send this young man because of his (past) condition.  Things were cleared up and the young man is now on track to receive a call.

Throughout the story, you could tell the doctor-teacher was really frustrated with the process of the missionary application in regards to health records.  I wondered if that was his big annoyance with Church structure.  I could tell he wanted a better system in place.

Last night, I recollected yesterday's post regarding "Mormon feminists" and thought about the things that bug them most about the Church.  I mentioned to my husband that everyone really does have their own "thing," don't they?  He kind of laughed and said he, of course, being a programmer is rather bothered by the technical issues he sees in the Church software and web sites.  Our conversation reminded him of some study he'd been doing on the Constitution earlier in the day regarding sacrificing for the greater good.  He'd run across this quote from Benjamin Franklin in a talk by Dallin H. Oaks that I think is worth sharing:
When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage over their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does. … The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good.
And then Dallin H. Oaks summarizes,
In other words, one should not expect perfection—one certainly should not expect all of his personal preferences—in a document that must represent a consensus. One should not sulk over a representative body’s failure to attain perfection. Americans are well advised to support the best that can be obtained in the circumstances that prevail. That is sound advice not only for the drafting of a constitution but also for the adoption and administration of laws under it.  --The Divinely Inspired Constitution, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign Feb 1992
Although this is about the Constitution, the principle of sacrificing personal interests for the greater, or public good is a nice reminder to let go of the hang-ups we may have with Church processes.  There's always a bigger picture than what we see, and although something that may bother us may seem huge, there are probably 100 other issues that bother other people that are also just as important.