20 April 2012

Kearl-ing Part 3: The Moral Imperative

This is the third in a four-part series of posts about the best lecture of my collegiate experience.  You can also find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Professor Kearl began the third part of his final lecture with the surprising statement: “My greatest fear is that after I have spent the semester teaching you these things, that you’ll actually believe them.”  He went on to explain that while economics’ invisible hand relies on self-interest—and theoretically the pursuit of self-interest should result in the greatest economic gains—that we should never mistake self-interest as an ethical tenet.

Rather, as people in general and Christians in specific it is our “moral imperative”—I love this term—is to put others’ interests above our own.  That is what the Savior taught is the parable of the sheep and the goats:  (As a side note, these words have a carry significant meaning for me and the purpose behind my pursuing an MBA.)

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

And as for the goats, those people who neglected to feed to hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, or comfort the lonely? 

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Dr. Kearl pointed out that the Lord did not provide a middle road—we don’t simply forgo heavenly rewards if we neglect our duties.  We must engage in charitable activities or we are damned.  That is the imperative.

Mosiah 4:19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

Giving, Kearl concluded is a matter of the heart, and not a matter of income.  “There are lots of people who are wealthy/poor who have good/awful hearts.”  Citing Robert Bellah’s famous work on religion’s role in civic virtue, Kearl said that we must make giving a “Habit of the Heart.”  There are so many places where all that is needed is our time.

I, for one, needed to hear this lecture.  As I was recently reminded, it is far too easy to get lost in selfish pursuits, or to become desensitized to all the good that we can do for those around us.  We, as a people, are capable of so much good, and of so much more. 

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