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I was sitting on a plane next to a psychologist who was returning from a job related conference. “What’s new in the field?” I inquired. “Well” she said. “It may seem obvious, but we learned that countries with the highest media use are also the countries with the highest rates of anxiety, eating disorders, and depression.”
Hmm… Are you surprised? Does it seem that there are too many “aspiring Instagram models”, too little time to find a cure for the cancer of comparison?…
Media doesn’t try only to sell the lie that appearance is what matters most. It upsells with an uglier, but more subtle lie.: “Virtue doesn’t really matter”.
Of course, media doesn’t use that exact word. Who in the world does? Outside of a religious context, when is the last time you heard the word “virtue”? 1843? I’m exaggerating of course, but it’s not really a current sort of word.
For many, it’s a Jane Austen sort of word. Or it could be a girl’s name-if you are a pilgrim. It can seem old fashioned, out of date. Maybe society has grown tired of virtue. But this is like growing tired of the warmth of the sun. When society loses this warmth, the love of men waxes cold. Is this really where we want to head?
Media has sold the lie that if people can get the “sexy” right, then maybe they can get the confidence they are seeking, which will lead to the happiness they are seeking. This can get expensive, on many levels.
But what if authentic, true, deep and lasting happiness and confidence doesn’t come from a store? What if it comes from something much more? (respectful nod to the Grinch)?
What if true, authentic self confidence actually does come from… virtue?
There is this scripture: “..Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men…and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45). Following the logic here, if our confidence can be strong in God’s presence, is there any mere mortal who can then shake our confidence?
This scripture helps us understand that virtue (combined with charity, aka the pure love of Christ) is the optimal confidence booster formula. But it’s even more than that. It’s literally power.
There is this true story:
“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”
“I perceive that virtue hath gone out of me.”
Isn’t that fascinating? Jesus Christ was filled with virtue, and it was the release of a portion of that virtue that healed the woman.
Could our personal virtue help heal the world? Yes. Could we bottle it up and promote it on Instagram? No.
But we can try, imperfectly, to live more fully virtuous lives. Even the smallest effort is never wasted. Our society is the sum total of all of our actions.
And example counts.
Who knows? Gentle example may even help some to look away from screen lit Instagram feeds… and up, up into the true light, shining, and waiting, from above.