Saturday, January 27, 2018

President James E. Faust on the impact of our personal choices

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley from 1995 until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"Private choices are not private; they all have public consequences.
"There is a popular notion that doing our own thing or doing what feels good is our own business and affects no one but us. The deadly scourges that are epidemic all over the world have flourished in the context of this popular notion. But this is simply not true.
"All immoral behavior directly impacts society. Even innocent people are affected. Drug and alcohol abuse have public consequences, as do illegitimacy, pornography, and obscenity. The public cost in human life and tax dollars for these so-called private choices is enormous: poverty, crime, a less-educated work force, and mounting demands for government spending to fix problems that cannot be fixed by money. Our society is the sum total of what millions of individuals do in their private lives. That sum total of private behavior has worldwide public consequences of enormous magnitude. There are no completely private choices."
- James E. Faust, "Will I Be Happy?," General Conference April 1987
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is a prevalent argument in our day: "my private choices don't impact anyone but me." President Faust refutes that claim; every choice has consequences that are "public" in that others are impacted in some way. "All immoral behavior directly impacts society." It's a bold claim, but one I believe can be supported. This tendency to try to isolate ourselves and our actions is, I believe, one more way that Satan "whispereth in their ears" while he "he grasps them with his awful chains" (2 Nephi 28:22).

The corollary of President Faust's remarks, relating to how negative actions impact society, is to consider how positive actions and righteous choices can also make a difference. I think it's just as fair to say that there are no purely private righteous acts, but that every worthy choice has public consequences that bless not only us but those around us. We should seek always to do good and to choose wisely, and know that in God's hands, our efforts are magnified and expanded!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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