We all do what we want.

It’s become WhiteEyebrows’ basic philosophies week here on the blog.

Here’s #2:

We all do exactly what we want.

This is something I learned while a missionary for my church. I worked with the Brazilian people, who are some of the most loving, sincere, transparent people in the world. The object of my mission was to get people to do things. Mostly, it was to get them to be baptized.

This is no easy task. It generally involved getting people to grasp and feel strongly about basic, but ethereal spiritual truths, make changes to their habits, addictions, and daily schedule, as well as overcome the internal and external pressures that were trying to convince them otherwise.

In that fight, I observed that there were people who simply wanted it, and those who didn’t. In the end, the individual always did exactly what they wanted. In order to get them to do anything, I first had to make them want to. I had to somehow inspire in them the deep desire and want for something spiritual, religious, and ethereal in their lives.

When push comes to shove, we will always do exactly what we want to do.

You might say, but what about when I did such and such for my spouse, or when I gave all this time to this cause, and you begin to enumerate your selfless acts. Well, I would argue that “sacrifice” or “the good of the whole” is most times a smoke screen. Religious people sacrifice because they feel they are passing up something now for points with Jesus or Mohammad or whoever. Rich people give money because they want recognition, and those who do so anonymously do so for personal satisfaction. Husbands give into their wives not because they think they are right, but because they want to stay with them.

You can readily see this in action by visiting a local acting school. One of the most basic acting methods is by using “objectives” or wants of a character. The method holds that the way to make a scene compelling, to make a character come alive, and to bring even the most boring text off the page is to understand exactly what the character wants, how badly they want it, and exactly what tactics they will use to get it.

Perhaps what is most disconcerting about this philosophy is that we spend most of our lives going after that which we want, but many times end up discovering that what we thought we wanted isn’t what we wanted at all. (more on that one next Monday)

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