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A battle of wills

March 12, 2009

When I fence, I have a peculiar way at looking at competition. I’m not so much concerned with whether I win or lose, but whether I was capable of winning or not.

For example, if I’m fencing against someone, and I lose to them, but I recognize that I was capable of beating them (maybe it was a close match…or maybe I was just too slow to realize what I was doing incorrectly), then I won’t have any problem with the loss. (But, at the same time, a victory in such a case isn’t so great either.)

…I guess I’m a liar. If I know I could’ve won, then I will get somewhat angry because I should’ve gotten my act together.

But the only thing that really bothers me is facing someone who I recognize I can’t beat even if I try my best. Because I know that in that case, if I put all of my willpower into it, it won’t be good enough. And that’s basically my 100% losing to them when they may not even be using their 100%!

I try to look at competitions like these as a competition of wills. A good bout — in any sport or activity — is when both people recognize the willpower of the other so they try to maximize their own wills and try to win creatively.

But like I said before…when you look at the world as a battle of wills, things might become disappointing for different reasons. When you realize that your will is weaker than the other’s, things get jumpy.I was reading a post on MM about Ray’s son who is about to go on a mission. And now, I don’t know Ray’s son, but it appears from all of the advice that is being given, the various commenters as MM are really gearing him up to give 100% of his will to the church and to Christ. I dunno…I guess, even if you don’t agree with the aims of the church, that is admirable. I guess it would be most honorable if Ray’s son turned out to be a 100% missionary, so to speak.

I recognize that some members would say that the success of a missionary isn’t in willpower…it’s thanks to the Spirit…it’s because of the truthfulness of the Gospel, etc., Now, while I will recognize that things definitely do depend on the receptiveness of the audience (and, in turn, the strength of the presenters, the missionaries), I would rather find other potential explanations than default on Godpower.

And in a few of the comments, I kinda got a glimpse of that. Some posters pointed out that it’s the spirit that does the work, but then they gave advice on how to work hard so that the Spirit can be there (especially comments about learning Christlike love — especially with mission companions.)

But the real reason I don’t want to default on Godpower is because of a simple logistical problem: there are a lot of groups that have mutually exclusive claims banking on the same power. Mormons bank on the Holy Ghost to help their missionaries, but certain Christian groups bank on the same Holy Ghost to witness to Mormons (who they don’t believe are Christian). So, you’ve got religions fighting against each other over which is true and which misses the mark (even though some religions are facially more inclusive than others) and it seems to me that most of them are fighting with close to maximal willpower.

I guess it’s impossible to have 100%, because you always lose some work capacity to heat…it’s basic engineering. But can I really say that ex-Mormon Christian ministries are less willed than Mormon missionaries? I think it would be just as insulting as the Tina Fey Saturday Night Live Skit where Fey, playing as Sarah Palin, just looks to Hillary Clinton, and says, “I guess you just didn’t want the presidency enough.”

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  1. jcilt permalink

    Interesting…giving of oneself 100% to anything is something I completely believe in, but that gives a whole new spin on certain things.

  2. Excellent post. I will have my son read this, as well.

    Fwiw, I can’t stand the statement, “You just didn’t want it enough,” or, “He just wanted it more.” That’s hogwash, but it does pervade our American culture and too much of our religious culture.

    It’s a fine line, trying to craft what I think is a necessary balance between personal work / effort (and the arrogance that can cause) and humility / grace (and the laziness that can cause) – but I personally prefer to err on the side of grace.

  3. I’m definitely not a good role model for your son, hahah.

    He should be fine though, in the end, especially since this is what he has determined to do. I would say that’s really the best one can do: get psyched for whatever you’re going to do and be driven to do that. It’s really terrible to do something you’re uncertain about or have doubts about.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. A Synthesis of Things Working Out and the Battle of Wills « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. What if we aren’t a peculiar people? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  3. On nihilism « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  4. A Response to Dave’s Mormon Inquiry on Mormonism as a Symbol « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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