On Discontent

I refuse to be content.

We’re told to learn contentment, and there is virtue in being content with your situation, or with your lot in life. However, at the same time, I’m not sure that complete contentment is the way to go. It so often turns into complacency.

While I don’t think that there’s a lot to be gained from constant anger and fear, I do think a little discontent can be channeled into something useful.

Desire for Improvement Doesn’t Mean You Dislike Something

It bothers me when people say that something is just fine as it is. We can always progress. We can always be better. I’ve never understood why there are those who get bent out of shape when you point out that improvement is needed. Yes, I agree that the United States is a great place to live. But it’s far from perfect here.

There are plenty of ways that we can improve, in terms of health care, education, and the way we treat each other. Pointing that out, and asking for change, doesn’t make you anti-American. It doesn’t even make you angry. It might just mean you’re discontent with the way things are, and you think they could be better. Nothing so radical in that, I think.

That’s something I see with my religion as well. People assume that, because you might want change in the Way Things Are, you must dislike the entire institution, and you should just leave. There are lots of people troubled, yet interested in staying, and who see good in the LDS Church. However, if you ask for change or dialogue, you are told to toe the line — or else.

And, of course, you’re told you don’t understand something properly, or that you are in a state of rebellion. But let’s be honest. A lot of our leaders have gone against authority in the past, and there is evidence that rarely are “unanimous” decisions arrived at spontaneously. Most such statements are released only after deliberation and debate.

When that is understood, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal that some people recognize a need for improvement. Institutions are rarely perfect, since they are run by imperfect beings, no matter what anyone says about programs and being led astray and whatever else.

We’re all supposed to be progressing and improving. As individuals and as as a collective. The Founding Fathers expected changes to come to our nation and our government with time, and the entire premise of the Church is that progress is eternal.

Total contentment leads to complacency and is the antithesis of progress. So, while there’s something to be said about feeling peace with your direction in life, and being at peace with your heart, it’s a completely different proposition to be content with things as they are.

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