A few months ago, a few of the fathers I’ve met while watching our kids in the park decided to get together, sans children. A location was chosen: a posh bar in the neighborhood. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in bars in my day — listening to music, playing music, meeting friends — so I didn’t think twice about meeting them there, especially as it was a warm evening and I knew the terrace would be pleasant. Is this the primrose path? Maybe.
I arrived late and the others all had beers. I was offered one as well, to join them, but I declined and asked for a Coke instead. It was quickly procured and glasses were duly clicked.
We started talking and laughing about families and what we did this summer, but at some point we started laughing about some of the other parents we saw at the park every day. We were all very witty and cutting, but I realized we were becoming a little judgmental and cruel. I wanted to change the subject, and looked for an opening. Before I had a chance, one of the other men said, ‘Ah, but I guess we’re all a little ridiculous, eh?’ and told a self-deprecating story. It shifted the mood and we all told stories about our own minor failings as caretakers for our children.
I don’t have the moral vocabulary to explain the difference between these two temptations, or rather the difference between the two commandments. Somehow the Word of Wisdom and similar laws require something of me, but being kind requires much more — it requires the control of my emotions and the internalization of Christ’s teachings. Somehow I feel like we spend all of our time talking about those more ‘behavioral’ commandments, but when I look at the topics of General Conference talks I see it’s not all they’re talking about. Perhaps the issue is that we define ourselves as food-storing tithing-paying Sabbath-keeping teetotalers, and being a decent bloke is alright, too.
Your thoughts and responses are welcomed.