The idea for this blog post first came to me after a conversation with my mom where we discussed the misconceptions generated by the phrase “choose the right.” Saying “choose the right when a choice is placed before you” implies a black and white world, where everything is either right or wrong. That is simply not the case.
As the wise Sirius Black teaches, the world isn’t split into good people and death eaters. In other words, there’s more than just “good” and “bad” or “right” and “wrong.” To be clear, some things can be split into right and wrong. Lying is wrong. But is 100% honesty always right? What if that puts another person in danger? Causing physical harm to others is wrong. But what if you have to protect yourself? Stealing is always wrong. But what if your family is starving to death and you have to steal a loaf of bread to keep them alive?
Beyond the right vs. wrong moral conundrum, I’d also like to consider the implications of a Choose the Right mindset in other decision-making contexts. Having grown up in a setting where the phrase “choose the right” was ubiquitous, I think it conditioned me to believe that every choice I made was either right or wrong. As a child it wasn’t too hard to distinguish between the right choice of spending my evenings reading and doing homework, rather than the wrong choice of staying up late playing games with Lucy. Or the right choice in high school of not dating until I was 16.
But then I came of age, and decisions became more complex. I made the choice to attend BYU-Hawaii for college, and I loved my experience. But would it have been wrong to attend BYU in Provo, or a different school altogether? I don’t think so. I think I could have chosen any number of schools, and they all could have been choosing the right. I am eternally grateful that I got to serve a full-time mission. That was a right choice for me. But would it have been wrong to graduate sooner and get right into the classroom without the mission? Not necessarily.
I think the main point I’m trying to make is that there can be multiple rightS for any given situation, just as there can be many wrongs. I even think there are many “right” people to marry, though I’m so happy I chose Spencer. I am thrilled to see that we’re moving away from such a heavy focus on CTR, and instead focusing on “Strive to Be.” STRIVING to become like the Savior is infinitely more powerful than choosing the “right.” Striving to be like the Savior means it’s a continual process, rather than decision-by-decision. Striving to be like the Savior means the more we repent, the more we become like Him. And it removes the anxiety-inducing black and white life model. I love it.