A few weeks ago, my wife and I took a hike up the Steinplatte near Kitzbühel in Austria.
From the summit we had a magnificent view in all directions. In the north we could see the Chiemsee,
in the south the entire main ridge of the Alps with the Großglockner and Großvenediger, the Kitzbühler Horn and the Loferer Steinberge,
to the east the Watzmann and other mountains in the Salzburger Land
and to the west the Wilder Kaiser and many other peaks of the Allgäu and in Tyrol.
It was uplifting, despite the somewhat rough weather.
While processing the impressions, I had to think about how important foresight is in our lives and for our decisions.
Foresight is a rare commodity in the political and social discourse we are currently experiencing. It is logical that an excessive emphasis on individualism and a focus on satisfying one’s own needs as quickly as possible are often incompatible with foresight and sustainability. The view of the big picture and the general good can quickly be lost, as can the ability to inform oneself objectively and comprehensively and to draw conclusions from this not only for oneself.
Angry critics usually have no sustainable solutions to offer and prefer to look for culprits for their discomfort instead of making a serious attempt to move to a level that allows for a more far-sighted reconsideration of their own behavior.
This applies not only to the pandemic, which is only the prelude to coming societal challenges that will undoubtedly befall us, because the laws of cause and effect cannot simply be suspended. We should assume that such challenges will be even more demanding than what we currently know, especially when they encounter a society deeply divided by unreason.
Will our society that has made a habit to relativize values be able to act insightfully, farsightedly, considerately and united in the future? How will we in the future be able to distinguish between absolutely correct information, information fraught with uncertainty, false information and completely absurd information and process it with expertise? Will decision-makers (that include us) do not only intellectual work, but also the spiritual work required to make inspired decisions that we so sorely miss?
What does it mean to do spiritual work that leads to greater foresight? For me, this aspiration is inseparable from developing a close relationship with God.
At the moment I am reading the addresses of the last General Conference of our church (see App Gospel Library or at https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10?lang=eng). I often think how desirable it would be if all who work on decisions, no matter how significant, were inspired by what was said and written there. I wonder what it would be like if the people who are preparing to govern our country would do that.
But that is not all. A few weeks ago, I took with me from our stake conference in Leipzig some statements from the president of our church, Russell M. Nelson, which were thankfully quoted by Helmut Wondra (Thank you very much!) from Vienna. They describe how this spiritual work should look like, so that a connection to our Father in Heaven can actually be established through the work of the Holy Spirit. Here are the quotes with a few comments (not in bold) from me:
„But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.
How we qualify:
Nothing opens the heaven faster than a combination of
- increased purity, (it is basically about how righteous our thoughts and the resulting actions are, how much they are in harmony with God)
- exact obedience, (exact does not mean blind, but it definitely does not mean cherry picking – choosing only what suits me)
- daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon (this does not exclude other scriptures, of course, but the book does have a special power)
- a regular time reserved for temple work and family research. (this is the power that can connect generations).
How we receive:
- Find a quiet place to go to.
- Humble yourself before God.
- Pour out your heart before the Father in Heaven. Turn to Him for answers and comfort.
- Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your worries, your fears, your weaknesses, yes, even the longings of your heart.
- And then listen.
- Write down the thoughts that come to your mind. Write down your feelings
- and put into action what is put into your mind.
- If you keep doing this, day after day, month after month, year after year, you will grow into the Principle of Revelation.“
We consider President Nelson to be a prophet of God. If we look carefully at the scriptures to see how readily the word of contemporary prophets was accepted in their respective eras, we can see that people have always been selective and often hostile to it when they saw their personal preferences violated. However, we also learn from this analysis that these people usually erred due to a lack of foresight and an excess of self-pride, often with dramatic consequences. We see this in the present as well. And it is still unwise.
We need a much greater degree of foresight in these times, so that we can deal with complex problems in a sustainable manner and protect ourselves more reliably from or counteract errors, ideological dissembling, the spread of inhuman behavior or abstruse ignorance. This requires more and more careful intellectual and spiritual work.