Cwic Show- Agency & Consequences, Gary C. Lawrence

"Agency & Consequences'
Gary and I discuss his most recent book, The Magnificent Gift of Agency, To Act and Not Be Acted Upon. Gary extrapolates on what agency is and how it relates to several principles including; consequences, victimhood, responsibility and the Atonement. We also discuss the role of agency in government.

Gary C. Lawrence is a public opinion researcher. he received a B. A. in political science from BYU and a Ph.D from Stanford in the study of attitudes- how they are formed, how they are measured, and how they can be changed. He has also been a member of several Church task forces.

Gary's book, The Magnificent Gift of Agency: To Act and Not Be Acted Upon can be found here- 


 Raw Transcript


every single
event in history and every human
ties back to agency
gary lawrence so i am in the middle of
reading your book
the magnificent gift of agency to
act and not be acted upon i found it
fascinating it's a great book it is very
detailed and
i i i i i told you previously i kind of
feel like you're a kindred spirit i
i love a number of the conclusions that
you come up with in this
about agency and really as you expand
out on it it's really
the plan of salvation is the way i look
at that it's it's it's you've kind of
taken agency as the the core principle
here but then
expanded expanded out and and shown how
that basically applies to all of
the plan of salvation and to truth but
before we get into that
i wanted to ask you a few questions
about your expertise
which is being a public opinion
correct and i kind of
just just give the audience here a
little idea of kind of what you've
you've done in your career
well this started when i was um on my
and i decided i wanted to go into the
foreign service
and so i came back and went into
political science and had my
eye on being a foreign service officer
but then my buddy from the third grade
best friend since the third grade said
you better have a plan b
in case that doesn't work out so i
started taking a look at a lot of
colleges and graduate programs and so on
and pulled down one that had to do with
communication and the study of attitudes
and the study of human behavior and all
of a sudden just something clicked
so i pursued that and uh was fortunate
enough to
hook up with the company that was doing
all of ronald reagan's research at that
before i started my own in 1986 and so i
was able to get in on a lot of stuff
uh just was a wonderful wonderful
experience and you got to take a look at
because i s people say well what is your
product what what
kind of work do you do and i say i'm in
public opinion research oh you sell
polls and focus groups and i say those
are only tools
what i sell is influence what kind of
strategies do we need to influence
people to
vote for you or increase your market
share if you're in business
and so i found in this whole process the
study of human behavior is so
so fascinating in grad school i had a
very intelligent very smart who was in
material science
and at one time i asked him how many
variables do you have to control
before you can predict how that piece of
material aluminum oxide or whatever it
might be
will react in a certain way you can
predict the reaction
and he said three time pressure
and temperature and i said that is
fascinating do you realize how many
variables we have to control before we
can predict
human behavior it's an awful lot more
than three
and then um it happened later i wish i'd
had the
the story at the time but one day i was
in the office and
an interviewer came in and said i've got
to tell you what happened
last night gary we were doing uh
interviews throughout the nation for the
ronald reagan campaign
against jimmy carter in 1980 and this
interviewed a lady on the phone and as
they went through the questionnaire
what is your image of ronald reagan very
what is your image of jimmy carter very
on every single point of the personality
she identified the the positive traits
with reagan and the negative traits with
and on every issue she lined up with
well at the end of the survey she get
down to the words the end you then ask
the person if the election are held
today would you vote for
ronald reagan or jimmy carter she says
i'll vote for jimmy carter
well i just blew my interviewer away why
in the world would you be voting for
didn't say it that way but of course she
went back and asked why
are you voting for jimmy carter
everything else says that you
you should be voting for ronald reagan
says well
i love ronald reagan so much but you
every president who's elected in a year
that ends with zero
ends up dying in office and i'd love
ronald reagan too much to see him die in
so just when you think you can predict
human behavior
they may fool you that's what's right
yeah so fun
well he came close but uh very very
what have you learned mostly about human
behavior that is so fascinating to you
i mean you say it's unpredictable i mean
that's one thing but is there anything
specific that you would say is
something that you can kind of count on
a little bit yes
most people down deep inside
are good good people
and even though they may do some stupid
things i've done stupid things you've
done stupid things
deep down we are spirits
children of our heavenly father and we
have inherited
some of those traits and the job here on
is to use our agency our free will and
the power to act and the power to do
to improve on those qualities and those
so that we can make step-by-step
progress towards what heavenly father
wants for us which is
exaltation to become as he is so that
potential is there
and i believe a lot of
heavenly father's choices children are
being sent to the earth at this time and
as members of the church
it's our job to try to find them and and
explain things that i know
deep down inside they have already been
so what is what is the what was the
catalyst to writing about agency
why did you want to write about that as
i was going through
life uh and you have different
experiences and everything
everything started to point to agency
and the right and the freedom to act
now as i looked into it even more as i
say in the book
every single event in history
and every human behavior ties back to
whether we honor it or violate it
determines whether we progress or not
and so as i got into it the more and
more i saw the connections
between agency and every single aspect
of humanity
and human life i said i've got to write
a book on this and i started to collect
stories and insights and more insights
came and watching
other polls and everything pulling it
together and so
my book is organized into two three
sections actually the first section is
if we act
and we take this um right of agency
which is the freedom to be
sovereign over ourselves and the
commandment to act on that freedom
and do something we are going to have
well i go into
chapters where we have it improves our
our creativity that the neurons and the
dendrites start functioning better
together we see connections that leads
to creativity that leads to
ability to innovate and to and to
prosperity and
all of the refinements that are there
for us music art
good literature and so on but if we
don't then somebody else is going to act
us and then we start down a whole trail
that leads us to become
subjects and perhaps even simply objects
to the adversary okay that's something
you go over in the book and
you go over the the contrast between
and objects we're going to get to that
in a minute but focusing in on
agency it's itself is there do you have
any kind of a definition that you would
put out there for agency agency
is the right to run your own life
now you say agents see your agent people
will think
well i have a legal agent that's my
lawyer i have a financial agent
that's my accountant i i have an a
talent agent who gives me a gig in a
hollywood movie
so age agents of free agency such as a
free agent in the nfl
but we take a look at it what i really
mean is the freedom of choice
the freedom of will and the freedom to
be your own boss
okay so so
i mean obviously we've got freedom also
that would be something
that we find out in government or in our
community or or something else
but agency here is it
as i've gone through the scriptures and
gone through the gospel
and its principles it is it is core to
i believe you know it it is absolute and
it might even be
even though i it would be i talk a lot
with my podcast about the higher and the
lower laws
and basically the lower law is more of
the aaronic priesthood
right and the higher law is the
melchizedek priesthood the lower law is
you know represented by the commandments
repentance choice agency
uh the aaronic priesthood and in fact i
i oftentimes say that the aaronic
is the priesthood of the individual and
and then you've got the higher law right
the melchizedek priesthood which is the
priesthood of the family and the
priesthood of the community
or zion so to speak
but so often you know one of the the
that we can have about agency is that
i think there's a natural progression
it's another point that i go over often
it's called the four phases of the
number one is agency
right num phase number one of the
priesthood to me is agency and then we
move all the way up to community
and and to zion but so many times
it seems to me like the adversary wants
to move
past number one especially and
and remove that and put us in a position
where you know agency if agencies
removed then obviously then we have a
difficult time progressing
and it's hard for us to to move forward
i'll give you an example and we're going
to get a little bit more into this later
you know an example of that would be hey
what about a utopia
of and i'll go from both the left and
the right on the political spectrums you
know a utopia of the soviet union
right leninism and and and uh uh
stalinism right
and and saying hey we can move directly
to this utopia as a collective
but what we've done now is we've skipped
the individual and you you can't that
never works
it just can't work and and so you begin
to exclude
the individual right and you become more
only the collective from the right side
you can look at something like nazism
you could say well you're trying to also
exclude the individual and meritocracy
because instead of including everyone
and forcefully
flattening the hierarchy you're going to
exclude others right you're just going
to remove
others out of out of the community
and and that way everybody's the same
right that way you have equality
in a different type of force in in in
that way
but you know this is the the book about
a book about agency to me and
i'm gonna finish this and i'm very
impressed with it
is is is i think very crucial in the
times that we're in right now
where it seems like there are so many
attacks on
on our agency absolutely absolutely let
let me come at it from a different angle
which kingdom
of heaven will have the most rules
it won't be the celestial kingdom we
will have learned to rule ourselves
according to
principles but the lower the kingdom the
more rules you have
because they're here on earth there are
many people who want to control you and
how do they control you
by passing laws and rules and
regulations and so much where it gets
absolutely silly
now don't get me wrong every
civilization needs a certain amount of
order we have to have traffic lights we
have to have stop signs we have to have
controls and boundaries
but when you get down to the point where
government is doing some of the craziest
things and rules that they
uh expect us to follow it means that
they're taking agency away from us
and we are being acted upon instead of
being the actors
and as actors you have to produce you
have to do something you have to work
against the friction that's out there
because there's opposition in all things
and i say
there's opposition in all things but
because of that there's exaltation
in all things and that's how we progress
so i tell people just for
just for a moment imagine you are a
senator or a representative in the house
and you have to vote on a particular
now just forget parties for a minute
forget labels for a minute
etc the way i would suggest would be
take a look at that policy proposed
piece of legislation
and tell me does it enhance my agency
or detract from my agency and if it
my agency to run my own life
proportionate to having civilized rules
of course
then vote against it if it enhances my
yeah if it hurts my agency vote against
it if it enhances my agency vote for it
and i say the same thing with people
especially as we're coming up
to elections in the terms that they look
at somebody's track record
and are they in favor of centralizing
giving more power to other people to act
upon you
or are they trying to enhance and
improve and then
and and free up more of your agency so
you have the power
to do things and obviously you feel the
consequences positive or negative and
that's part of agency but then you're
using agency
why to become like our heavenly father
yeah we're gonna get to power here in
just a second that's that's a that's a
great point
you say about agency you say agency
requires both
justice and mercy what do you mean by
first of all you go the the thing is you
actions and you have consequences so if
you have an action
here at least to a consequence here
and now with an action and a consequence
you have you have the situation
where you can help somebody before
the action or you can help them after
the consequence
but don't try to intervene be between
the two because that upsets the whole
thing of learning
and and justice is that every action has
a consequence
we will make mistakes and that's why we
have a savior
and the atonement who redeemed us from
those mistakes why
so that we can can progress otherwise
and this is a very very key point agency
must be connected with the atonement
if the atonement didn't exist agency
would be
a prison sentence and that comes from
president boyd k
packer because then when we have actions
and consequences and some of the actions
are wrong
there's no way to correct those
wrongs there's no way to repent unless
we have both agency and atonement so the
two things together
the savior's atonement and our agency
free us up to progress and become like
our heavenly father
so we need the mercy in order to uh
for justice to be fulfilled and mercy to
have it say
and if we don't have justice god ceases
to be
a god and that's almost 42 as well as a
lot of other places and if we don't have
then we're stuck for eternity
right because there's no way to get past
the consequences at that point
and of course as you say also in the
book you know acting is a risk
right using using your agency is a risk
and what's the risk the risk is or what
type of consequence
are you going to trigger yes and if it's
negative and you
have no way around that
they're in trouble exactly right okay
um power you bring up power and i hadn't
thought about this before
power is something i don't know if you
follow much about
philosophy or the latest philosophies
that are
that are out there right now critical
theory and and post-modernism but
right now that's that's become a very
big thing especially in academia and
it's it's entering into all institutions
right now
and and post-modernism focus
is to say first that everything is
right it's it's all relative it's all
everyone truth is basically
your own lived experience and so
everyone's got their own truth and
there's no central truth
but secondly what that result of that is
that thought process
is that all that matters then is power
since there's not a central truth
and and you say in here and i'd never
thought of this before but
you know power is the ability to act
and so it's kind of like it's kind of
like taking your agency
and as you add power in a certain
it's like leveraging your agency
it's it's hyper agency
is that is that right exactly exactly
you have
you have a this whole thing of
relativity and absolutes
are there absolute in the world
absolutely and what are they they're
god's principles those are absolute
principles and president nelson talks
about the absolute
truths involved with the heart and the
breakthroughs that he made in his
profession so there are absolutes but
if somebody wants to act upon you they
have to destroy
your belief in absolute
values absolute truths now here's here's
where this comes together with my
think of your mind as an ocean it's a
mental ocean
at the top of this metal ocean would be
they change daily whichever way the
wind's blowing whichever way the winds
the waves are flowing the underneath
current is attitudes these are
stronger more likely to last
but everything is really driven by the
deepest currents in your middle ocean
and that would be values and values i
as the sum total of people's hopes their
their beliefs and their fears
those four elements that's feed into our
values which really drive our behavior
i can do more with fears than i can with
hopes and needs and beliefs
because if we fear something then that
is a real value to people and you do not
want to have your real deep down values
diminish or hurt and that's why
satan tries to get us away from the
deeper currents
and say everything is okay at the
attitudinal level yeah it's relative you
don't have to worry about this and it's
nehor and corahor and everything do
whatever else you want
and you will all be saved and we'll all
live in heaven together and so in other
words they're taking the consequences
out of things and they're destroying
values in the process
yeah that's uh i've got a i've got a
little theory on on the
on the uh idea of destroying
consequences and i think i think we find
it in the garden of eden
right and i think that uh there's a lot
of talk in the book of mormon especially
with the two deaths right you've got a
spiritual death and the physical death
the immortal death and when satan
says to eve you know lucifer says to eve
you shall not die but be as the gods
um i believe what he's saying is is
is that his judgment it's not just
you're going to die physically
it's that you're going to die
right there's going to be a fault
there's going to be a judgment
and a consequence in place but he's
saying there's not
you know and so his his i think that
that is something that is carried out
throughout all of the scriptures and
through our mortality here
is right from the beginning he's saying
don't worry about the consequences you
shall not surely die
it's not going to happen exactly right
there are four places in the book of
mormon that uh
the whole thing of don't worry about
consequences of brought out and i
mentioned a couple of them
helmet talks about one of them there's
one other one it's all all in the book
that satan has to destroy the idea that
you're going to have
to face the consequences someday and if
you're not don't have to face the
consequences guess what
there's no accountability there's no
judgment day there's no
self-responsibility agency properly
used is personal responsibility
with everything that that entails to
live as christ would have us live and so
god would have us become
and so satan will go after the
consequences if he can destroy
he can destroy agency if he destroys
agencies and heavenly fathers plan for
happiness collapses
yeah well stated should we be risk
can we do what should we be risk takers
oh yeah absolutely you have to take a
risk and people
people forget that
everything is a risk because there's
opposition in all things
and you don't make any progress unless
you take a risk
in other words this world was created so
things will go wrong
and go wrong they do but that friction
gives us something to push against have
you have you ever
driven on black ice in the winter
unfortunately yes
unfortunately we all have guess what
that tire can spin and spin and spin but
if the friction
constant is zero in other words there's
no purchase or no grab there's no
friction that car doesn't move
we in life it's exactly the same way we
do not move
we do not progress unless there's
and so somebody comes along and says oh
you poor
soul you've got so much friction here
i'm going to take the friction away from
guess what that takes the opportunity to
away from you so when we say there's
in all things i say because of friction
there's exaltation
and the promise of exaltation and all
things because we have to take a risk
now a lot of people think free agency is
freedom freedom to choose freedom to do
or not to do
but i believe that agency is also a
commandment to act
and there's no action in this world that
you can take
that doesn't carry some kind of a risk
to it
and we learn to work with the risks
experience the risk and say
i'm not going to do that again and we
repent and we wince and repeat so to
speak and we keep making
progress but risk taking is necessary
agency is built upon our
about the assumption that people will
act and should act and should do and
should accomplish
that that let's let's talk about the war
in heaven for a second
um i i you know there's there's three
places that i i bring my
my audience on the podcast to often
and and that is the the war in heaven
the creation story
and the garden of eden story and i think
that there is so much
richness in all three of those
uh that if we really studied it as
little information as we have on each of
if we really studied the principles i
think that there's just such a
a large treasure to glean out of there
and and so if we look at we look at the
the war in heaven how would you say
that i mean it's obvious to a certain
degree but how would you say that agency
played a role in in the war in heaven
well first of all we did have agency in
in the pre-mortal pre-mortal existence
obviously because we had to make a
and that says agency you have agency now
it didn't end in a setting that was not
this different than the course here on
the earth we have
agency and there's just seems to be more
of an expansion of the applications of
agency here on earth than there was up
in the pre-mortal existence
but we had agency up there we could
think we were
conversing we had personalities we had
everything was moving along and now
comes this son of the morning
lucifer who says i have a better plan
and it basically was saying you give me
your agency and i'll make sure there are
no consequences
i'm giving you a free lunch i'm giving
you a ticket back
here to live with heavenly father
forever and of course it was impossible
but he persuaded a third of the
hosts of heaven that he was correct now
figure it out
democracy figure so far there have been
something like 108 billion people
who've lived in mortality on this earth
that means there's something over 50
billion spirits
who decided not to come here now their
50 billion spirits working on seven
billions of us that's a seven to one
ratio beating up on you in your mind
every single day
so yes agency in heaven and now agency
here on the earth
but both are necessary for our progress
we made one
uh we we kept our first estate we're now
in our second estate and agency is
just germane and central and critical to
whether or not we'll make the progress
god wants us to make
so what are your thoughts on why someone
would choose
to not be able to choose they wanted the
free stuff
they wanted they wanted all the goodies
without putting in the effort
i of course we didn't know everything
what this earth life would be but i
think we had earth prep
101 classes where we were taught about
certain things maybe even visions of
of of other worlds and other people on
other worlds that god has created
i think he the heavenly father tried to
prepare us as as
as best he could short of actually
having to have the experience but
okay take a look at this way if there's
been billions of earths and billions of
people on those
earth since and people have written down
records is there any event
that has happened on some other earth
that has not happened here is there
anything that's happened here that
hasn't happened there
there's only one thing that's happened
on this earth that hasn't happened in
other earths and that's
the atonement of the savior his
sacrifice on our behalf
everything else i believe every other
experience that we can experience here
has been experienced by somebody else
somewhere else
so now why not get all of the all of the
material that's been written in all
these other worlds and all of the
uh experiences that they've had put it
in some celestial icloud
that we can tap into and we can read it
and therefore we don't have to come down
on earth and actually experience it
well it doesn't work that way to gain
experience you have to experience
experiences and that's not one of my
points in my book okay
um prosperity
here's and again as we're going through
this these are these are
these are things that we all think about
these are things that that
socially all come and bear fruit
and and give us an opportunity to choose
different things
and and it's all i believe i mean if you
study history at all
it's it's always the same things it's
always the same issues
we've talked about power a little bit
here but prosperity is a problem
for some right prosperity
is you know again if we're talking about
i i believe that
i believe you would say that prosperity
is a consequence
of of following certain
eternal laws so to speak or natural laws
whatever they are
and therefore you have prosperity
it brings up meritocracy
and that's
kind of a hot topic right now and you
know as far as
you know a lot of what's going on
is and i'm not trying to be pick sides
here or be political in any way but a
lot of what is happening
is that for example again i'm going back
to critical theory here if i go back to
critical race theory
right underlying the anti-racism and
underlying critical race theory
is the idea that you need to get rid of
and and if you don't you know if people
the audience doesn't think that you need
to read who's
who are the movers and and shakers of
those movements
because it's exactly what they believe
right they want to remove that because
they want to
remove meritocracy and
and so let me just bring a couple points
up here about this that i want you to
touch on if you would
meritocracy does cause a problem
right if we if we go through the book of
over and over again with the pride cycle
you have you have you know focused on
the nephites you see them
following the the commandments they're
they're following
order and structure and
they receive the positive consequences
of that they receive prosperity
and it almost not always but almost
always what
follows that and it's specified by
mormon over and over again is that there
are divisions in the classes
right there are economic castes that are
and and this this sows discontent
right and conflict over and over again
and so there are a number of people that
hey we need to get rid of meritocracy
again we want to flatten the hierarchy
we want an a a a
a a society where equality exists
how does agency play into that
there are two kinds of equality equality
of opportunity
or equality of outcomes heavenly father
will not give you
any blessing that he's not willing to
give me or mr jones or mr smith down the
every one of his children will have or
has or will have that equal opportunity
to become his heavenly father but guess
we're different run different
willingness to work and willingness to
do or willingness to obey willingness to
follow counsel and as a result
we get different outcomes now
in agency we work with
with what we have and if agency
is honored then
in our mind we start thinking of ideas
we make connections and we see
a ability to improve our way of
living and that's where we get the
creativity and the prosperity
but then somebody comes along and it
says it's no fair
these people have more money than you do
this these people have this and you
don't and so we're going to make it all
equal so everybody has the equal amount
well if you gave everybody in in the
let's say 5 000 a month
to make things equal then
you wouldn't go 30 days before some
other people are saying
but it's not fair why because we would
spend it differently
some would loan it some would invest it
some would squander it
and so there's we are there
you cannot have equal outcomes
without coercion so now you start with
and the and the people who think that
that's necessary so that everybody has
the same amounts we all have a piece of
the pie they're assuming
that wealth is finite and the pie
is finite and so if you have more than
if you get too big of a slice that means
there's less for me
where in actuality free market
enterprise says no that pie can expand
and if we use our agency there'll be
more and more people producing more and
more things and more and more new ideas
and we will all
prosper and so what happens when people
uh we're going to take from from this
guy and give it to this guy here
both of them will hurt the guy who
receives it will say
great somebody's taking care of me the
guy who has to give up some of
the fruits of his labor will say why
should i work so hard
and that's why we get that we natural
are will always be unequal because
people will put an unequal
effort equal opportunity is of course
what we want
equal outcome can only happen if there's
here's the difference socialism says
christianity says should
socialism is a big counterfeit of god's
plan that we will all become and have
things all the things that we need each
one of us
and so because of that counterfeit he
tries to say
do whatever you want but somehow we're
going to make sure that everybody has
eagle well he knows darn well he's lying
it's impossible you cannot have equal
outcomes without coercion
and so i say to the people who want to
get away with capitalism
find me a socialistic country where
people have voluntarily joined it
deep down inside we know that
with you need to have incentives and
people have to have the right
to the fruits of their labor or you will
get production sure yeah
weren't many banana boats going from uh
florida to cuba
so um there's a quote in here that i
thought was really interesting i haven't
seen this before from aristotle that
says the worst form of
inequality is to try to make unequal
equal that's right right so i i've seen
that before but
again going back to the war in heaven
that's to me the gist of it
right is that is that you're going to
force dalenh choke says the same thing
right that that the equality of god and
i'm close on this but
the equality of god is the equal
opportunity for all
not the equal outcome for all a satan
nobody can acc uh can create
equal outcomes without coercion
equal outcomes without force is
impossible yeah and i think that that is
you know what i see that i pair i make
the parallel of that comment
with give me all the glory
right and always give me all the glory
means that i'm a little more equal than
everybody else
absolutely and i'm going to have to be
the tyrant
to actually make this happen and satan
does not
want competition and when he asks for
god's glory according to dnc 29 he was
in this and saying give me thy power
in other words satan doesn't want you to
have any power he wants you to be an
and an object is some that means to be
acted upon according to president faust
means somebody else is pulling the
string you become a puppet
and the puppeteer satan controls
everything you do and what you can do
and what you can't do would be a very
miserable stale boring existence for
those people who followed it
you have on your on the inside flap
of your book you have a little diagram
starting up at the top with agency and
then it splits into two sides
right and one side is to act
and the other is to act upon
now this is a little bit different from
to me because you're you're basically
saying are you
are you creating acts of commission as
compared to acts of omission it seems
whereas you can also say well i'm
choosing good and evil
but that's not necessarily what you're
putting in the diagram here
you're you're putting in to act
or to be acted upon here
and and as you move down
the uh the diagram here you end up at
the bottom here i'm going to couple
cover a couple more of these as well but
at the very bottom you basically have
exaltation is the result on one side and
being an
object is the result on the other what
do you what do you mean by
by making a contrast between that and
well what is the difference between
your own agent being an agent and and
being an object
good point and here is what you're
referring to an agent you have
freedom you have power you have the
ability to act
and let's say you decide to act then you
will find opposition
but if you allow somebody else to act
upon you there's also opposition
and then there are consequences in both
sides but then
if you act and you feel the consequence
and you learn
from it this little arrow that comes
back up
says you get to act again that's really
repentance i guess i should have been
decided should have put repentance
because you felt the consequences
you say oh i've learned something so now
i'm going to do it differently you act
again and you start coming down
and you'll see that this person then
through with a lot of positive items
that we get our better mentality we get
creativity we get
the power of the mind and innovation
now you take a look at the other side
and let me put it over here
so everybody can see it if you say oh
i've felt consequences i'm a victim
then we go through a whole series of
things where society starts to act upon
you with cultural distortions with
intellectualism now intellectualism
is not being anti-uh intellectual we
believe you know that god
the glory of god is intelligence and we
want to learn as much as we can
but with the intelligence
out there in academia who and i get into
a lot of funny things and with the
academic um gobbledygook that they use
in some words somebody said you know i'd
really dislike people who use
big words they're just trying to sound
well do we get all of that and then it
leads to centralization of power it
leads to
statism and leads to socialism at least
attorney it leads to
tyranny it leads to becoming an object
and that's how i wanted to show
this whole thing of agency to act or
allow other people to pull the strings
is a big big difference in how much
progress we make
so would you equate victimhood with
being an object
uh yes if you um absolutely
you become somebody else's puppet
victimhood means
i feel sorry for myself it's unfair
somebody has
done something wrong and instead of
learning and acting and moving on they
it's unfair i'm a victim somebody owes
and so you please take care of me and so
the people who
still get back to the uh the third and
left of
heaven they want the goodies without the
well certainly there are people that are
victims though right
i mean they're they're natural victims
circumstance they are they are
the um result of somebody else's poor
choice and so they do
feel consequences but now it's what you
and when somebody does something and the
consequences are negative to you
how do you act you still you may be a
victim in terms of
um physically hit they hit me
i was a pedestrian a crosswalk and that
car hit me i'm a victim
but do you stay a victim in your mind
and that's the difference
you can be technically a victim on the
police blotter
this guy was hit in the in the
pedestrian crosswalk and so he is
a victim but does he consider himself a
where other people have to therefore
compensate him
and take care of him yes we do but not
we are in other words we do take care of
the victims
but we can't take care of the victimhood
mentality that says you continue to
help you must continue to help me
forever and i don't have to put in any
and you take a look at people who are in
wheelchairs or who are bound or
they cannot they still work i mean
stephen hawking still works i disagree
his perceptions about god and this is uh
his existence but stephen hawking's
crippled as can be
still works he doesn't consider himself
a victim and that's the way we should
have more things
don't consider yourself a victim hood
right so i i guess you know playing the
devil's advocate here i mean a lot of
people say well
you know say for example the people
those that are in the inner city
right and they don't they they have had
they have been put into an environment
since that you know born into it
often times where culturally where
where um you know the circumstances the
opportunities aren't there
right so when we talk about equality of
opportunity there's not the equality of
opportunity for them and therefore that
that idea that moves towards socialism
right which would say well we need to
lift them up
is is born out of i believe it is it's
born out of compassion
right i mean there there's compassion
for that what i'm getting at is i think
i think that
in my view meritocracy
is absolutely crucial because because
you have to have agency
but alone i i don't think it saves
right i don't think that i don't think
it can you know if i were to take a
purely libertarian point of view
you know basically live and let live
it doesn't save anybody including
and so now there's there's different
ideas on the role of government and
where government comes into this or if
it's church or community or
family or or anything else but it seems
to me
that in those circumstances where people
you know i'll say people that are
victims of
less of an opportunity that there needs
to be
there needs to be uh action
and an agency used from both sides
in other words from the victim side
saying i'm going to reach up
and i'm going to choose you know which
is you know much more of a
you know a conservative type of a uh uh
an argument you know lift yourself up by
your bootstrap so to speak
and then and then and so that so that
you know my meritocracy my actions are
going to give me the right consequences
and then there's they need help
in doing this right because they don't
have the same opportunity
or and that could be in anything it's
not just the inner city right it could
be as you said someone who's disabled it
could be
it could be somebody who um lacks skills
you know or education or whatever it
just seems to me that that that idea of
opportunity is is what is crucial
let's take a look at the action needs to
be made on both sides
let's take a look at the you said people
want socialism or acting out of
compassion i don't doubt a lot of them
trying to do what is right but how much
how much government and intervention do
you need in order to be compassionate
and help somebody else
what happens is you get people who
see an opportunity for power i will
tell to these victims oh that's too bad
let's help you out we will we were going
to take it away from those rich guys
and we're going to give it to you well
there's a certain kind of a person
who'll say oh great i don't have to work
and and yet you get into a situation
people now see socialism
under the pretense of just trying to
help people
as a path to power and you show me a
socialist system
where people are equal it doesn't exist
there was a proletariat
the vanguard of the proletariat in uh in
the kremlin
they lived wonderful lives uh hugo
chavez's daughter still a billionaire
from all the things that went wrong in
there's no way in the world that it is
totally compassionate
to try to take it from this person's uh
earnings and give it to somebody else if
the person wants to do it and he wants
to share what he has produced that's
and that's a one-to-one situation but
once you get somebody intervening
whether it's
government or another organization or
another person saying
i will make sure that person a helps
person b
then you've lost the whole idea and
compassion doesn't exist it's a path to
power for people who want socialism
and agency suffers
all right one of the things you write
in in in the book is you
under responsibility you contrast
humor versus intellectualism
what what do you mean by that well i'm
not saying that intellectuals can't have
a sense of humor
what i'm saying is a sense of humor
comes from a very active
uh brain because the the
you look you got 100 billion little
houses in your brain
they're called neurons and they are all
over with a little antenna connecting to
trillions of miles of dendrites so when
a new piece of information comes into
your head
your brain says hmm i wonder where this
belongs and it sends out feelers to all
parts of the brains to see
if there's a connection what cluster of
neurons do i put this piece of
in and in the process you discover
new connections and that's the basis of
invention that's in basis of innovation
and at the same time you'll see some
unexpected connections and so you have a
sense of humor
so a real active intellectual
is going to have a lot of those kinds of
connections that will occur to him and
so you say
you know i love stephen wright with all
of his uh
his comments and i've got a chapter four
in the book that talks about humor
says well if cinderella's slipper fits
so well why did it fall off
if you can't eat during the night why is
there a light in the refrigerator
if at first you don't succeed and then
skydiving is not for you in other words
you see a different kind of a connection
and i think the people with the with the
best minds
and using the minds the best will have a
great sense of humor
but now you get the intellectual who is
trying to be
superior over others who wants to be
able to control other people
and some of those people's have anything
but a good sense of humor they are after
over others they are after the the goal
of making you an
object to their idea of a
pot positive society
i think it's interesting that when you
go to uh
2nd nephi 2 and and
and i'm not a philosopher but i've
studied a little bit of philosophy and
and uh i see lehigh as a real
you know he's he's got you know as he
goes into you know
opposition in all things and and act or
be acted upon in chapter 2 there
he brings in the the garden of eden
story also
as he's he's talking to his son
eventually to
to all of his sons but uh
as we close up here explain to me again
how how our agency is tied directly to
the atonement ah very good question
agency says you have the right
to run your own life you have the right
to decide
what to do when to do it to what extent
to do it
or you can decide to just sit back and
let life flow on
in other words you have the you have the
right to run your own life and you
decide whether to act or not
act now once you do that
then we get into action and every action
has a consequence it may be immediate
it may be a ripple effect it may be
later it may be deep it may be
a multiple kinds of consequences but
every action has to have a consequence
some of those consequences are not going
to be pretty some of those consequences
will be negative
some of those consequences will indicate
a mistake has been
made and that mistake it makes this
person something less than clean and no
unclean things can
soul can live in heavenly father's
presence so god is a god of justice and
he must
continue to recognize that every action
has a consequence
now the consequence is harmful to others
harmful to self
how do you how do you cleanse that how
do you
make amends for it how do you
make that so that it is not part of the
final judgment
well that's where mercy comes in that's
where somebody has to pay
the it is absolutely impossible for us
as mortals to pay
the adequate price for every mistake we
we need a redeemer
a savior someone who will pay that for
so therefore when you you have agency
you must have the atonement it is
for god's plan of happiness to take
without christ's atonement and the more
i study
it the more i'm just absolutely amazed
and and thankful
and for what
that great being did for us there's not
single consequence that we can feel of
anybody's mistakes
anybody's mistakes against us that he
doesn't also
know and understand and feel deeper he
descended below
all things and he disintegrated all
things because of god's
plan for our agency agency and atonement
have to go together otherwise we are
stuck in prison as president uh packer
would you say then i mean we're talking
about equality here
would you say that the atonement
then is the in
in a way is the gift of equal
opportunity for all of us
yes it is yeah and whatever
circumstances we have here on the earth
whatever adjustments have to be made in
post-earthly existence as we enter into
the spirit world
things continue on and any any
negative elements that uh due to the
circumstances of our birth will be
irregularly adjusted for and accounted
as the full plan of heavenly father's
plan for agency and happiness comes to
our knowledge
it's just it's a wonderful and and and
there is will be equal uh
opportunity to return to live in god's
and it will depend upon us if we are
dutiful to the atonement and
it's and follow the commandments repent
turn change improve and follow the
commandments then
we will have all of the blessings that
god is willing to give to anybody else
you will also have
gary really appreciate is there anything
else you wanted to cover that we haven't
uh touched on
well there are about 68 000 words in
that book
we got quite sure there would be a lot
of other things we could talk about but
just just as a conclusion that just keep
a couple of things in mind
agency must always
be connected to the atonement
unfortunately it is
and agency is not just a freedom it's a
to act and do and progress
great gary appreciate it gary c lawrence
the book is
the magnificent gift of agency to act
not be acted upon i very highly
recommend it
i've been i've been running through it
very quickly here so gary appreciate it
and uh great i appreciate it very much
thank you




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