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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 46 – Temptations

So as I recently wrote about cheating I think a good place to go from here is to discuss the preliminary cause of cheating, and that is temptations. So I believe that one of the major things we are told in life, especially in our early years in our upbringings, is to live a life of the straight and narrow. There is extra reinforcement and basically incentives to make people want to follow a life of the straight and narrow and they come in the form of consequences and punishments for not following such a lifestyle. In school if you don’t act like a model student or go outside of the basic rules, you will receive punishment for your actions in the form of detentions, referrals, and if it is extreme enough, maybe even expulsion.

Failure to comply with a straight and narrow lifestyle may have negative consequences but with a realistic expectation of how to live needs to be taken into consideration every time something goes wrong. We are all humans and we all will make mistakes and situations that we go through might not always allow for us to comply with the rules. We are expected to abide by a general code of conduct and standards that apply over basically all spectrums of life. In the way we should carry out our lives in regards to living with other people and being a part of society as a whole, the government sets up standards for which we all must abide by called laws. They were set up in the constitution to describe how everyone should be treated and basic rights people are afforded if they follow the laws. Once you have violated a law you may or may not be given certain rights depending on how serious the offense was. There are certain things that will stay will you for as long as you are an American citizen like freedom from cruel and unusual punishment but if you are a prisoner on death row you obviously won’t be given the right to bear arms. These can be taken away and the determination of when you will have such rights is all based on moral and ethics which I don’t really want to get into now but I might do a post later about them. The main thing that applies with laws is the fact that if a temptation is the cause for not complying with the basic codes of conduct, then there will surely be negative consequences in your future. One of the benefits of living a life of the straight and narrow is that it will allow you to become more successful because you will meet less interference in trying to reach your goal. If you want to make money but are doing so illegally like smuggling or drug dealing you obviously have to be pretty careful before the law restricts your ability to increase your income not that I am condoning such behavior.

I think one of the main things about temptations is the fact that they try to diverge our progress off our intended paths and pop up almost everywhere and in almost limitless forms. Temptations mainly influence our own judgment and try to curb it to something that isn’t necessarily the right or ethical thing to do. There are many forces that can act as temptations and are both internal and external. Externally one of the biggest temptations is peer pressure and the temptations and urge to fit in with your friends is a strong influencer and can make a lot of people do things they wouldn’t normally do. I think the solution to this would be to not have friends. : P Realistically speaking though, it is almost impossible to avoid such temptations and you just need to learn and adapt and resist such urges. Internally, one of the biggest temptations comes in the form of your desires and things that you really want. You may not always be able to explain why you have such desires but the problem with them is that they may conflict with what you are supposed to do. When your wants and duties crash together, bad things are bound to happen.

With so many temptations that each of us faces in our daily lives, it can be hard not to give in to at least one of them. In a lot of situations we may just not be tough enough to resist everything that gets thrown at us. Sometimes we even do it by choice because the perceived benefits at the time are more appealing than the consequences you will potentially face in the future. Doing so can affect your life in a myriad of ways. The severity of your actions when you give in to temptations is a major factor in the results because the implications of your actions can be terrible depending on what you did. The consequences will be much greater if you commit a felony that can get you arrested compared to giving in and breaking your diet by eating a donut. A donut, while it may prevent you from losing some weight, won’t make you lose 10 years of your life by going to prison. This is where abiding by the general code of conduct comes into play. Everybody sets their own personal code of conduct for almost all their actions and each with different consequences for breaking such rules. If you set in your rules that you can’t eat a donut during your diet and you break it, the consequence could be running an extra 30 minutes the next day depending on how strict your mentality is.

The best way to prevent negative consequences is to stay strong and avoid the distractions and temptations that come up in your daily life. Of course there will be exceptions where following a temptation can lead to great benefits but I think the main aspect of temptations is that they try to skew and distort your perspective thus making it hard to make an accurate decision. Temptations are designed to make you only see something great that you can do know and usually hide the unintended negative consequences that are accompanied with it. In reference to the last note about cheating, it may seem like to good to pass up at the time to cheat on someone, but you will most likely regret it later on and it will put your whole relationship in jeopardy. Situations like this are what I call heat of the moment situations and usually never turn out positively if you give in to them. This is because you are too biased to one side of a decision and won’t accurately weigh the action’s effects on your future and without careful consideration. Major decisions can make or break your life if made a certain way. There are substances like drugs that further impede your ability to clearly weigh your options and will result in terrible consequences if you give into these temptations.

On the other hand of the spectrum, while avoiding temptations may seem like it is always the best choice, there are some situations where it is acceptable and possibly even better to give in to them. We all only have one life to live and while I’m not saying it is good to give into major temptations like cheating, there are plenty of situations that occur in life that provide a sense of excitement if you give into them without any major detriments. Breaking the rules can cause your life to be miserable but also give you an adrenaline rush knowing you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing. If you do something that isn’t a huge impact on how you will live your life down the road, it can be beneficial to give into your temptations every once in a while. Eating that donut and breaking the diet may be less harmful to your health than it is more beneficial for your taste buds and sense of satisfaction. An important part of temptations and judging how to deal with them is your risk assessment. Risk assessment is an important but often overlooked part of temptations. Risk assessment is usually an unreliable determinant of the best decision to make when faced by a temptation because like I said before your risks seem to be distorted because temptations make you forget the long term affects.

Desires are one of the major temptations anyone will ever have and are usually the hardest to resist when it seems like those desires are easily attainable and if they aren’t, they are easy and within grasp. Your desires make you want to seize the opportunity to attain them and don’t make you consider the effects of your actions to others around you. This is why the way people deal with their desires is such an important part of life. Society makes it seem like a terrible thing accompanied by terrible consequences if you give into desires that have negative repercussions on those around you. If you give in to tempting things then you are threatened by becoming just another statistic especially if your desires include illegal actions. I think things that break the rules are especially tempting because of the adrenaline rush knowing you are doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing it. Some people live for this rush and will do anything to get it again. That’s why people do stupid and reckless things because of the rush knowing you just risked your life or your future doing something crazy. If you can exercise self control and not give into such feelings, you can become much more successful in life. Society rewards those who can stay strong and preserve down a path without become distracted or diverting from the intended path because of temptations.

One thing to think about though when it comes to this mentality is the fact that we all make mistakes and will inevitably give into a temptation that pressures us with its immediate satisfaction. In one shape or form, and maybe without realization at the time, we will fall to the pressures of external forces around us. It may also come from within ourselves that make us eventually give in and quit fighting at least one thing that we encounter. Similar to our desires, it all matters in how we choose to deal with them. It is also important to look at how these mistakes come about. Is it completely the temptations fault? Is it just not humanely possible to resist the urges and impulses that temptations make us feel? Is it just easier to give in and not fight it or do we not make an effort at all to fend off those feelings that can get us into trouble?

While all these questions are important there is one path that you can follow to help you dig yourself out of the mess that temptations can get you in. This path leads to redemption. Redemption is basically the actions that make up for your past mistakes. You attempt to create a good standing between you and those you might have hurt in the past by making mistakes and being lured into a temptation. You ultimately try to mend things and erase the negative remainders of what you probably regret doing. The effort in trying to reach redemption varies depending on the severity of the mistakes you made in the past. If you do something small you may be let off the hook and not forced to pay back for your mistakes where as a rather large mistake might require punishment and facing up to the consequences.

I guess the only thing left is to determine if temptations are good for us. This is more of a personal decision but in my case I believe that they should be taken with a grain of salt each time you face one, but are a vital part of a successful life. If nothing else, facing a temptation provides practices in self control and allows you to realize your weaknesses and thus build up defenses to prevent yourself from giving in to temptations in the future. Another thing that could be seen as a positive of temptations is the fact that it widens your perspective. Remember that this perspective will be skewed because temptations are designed to seem irresistible by making it seem as if only positives are accompanied by giving in. The thing is though that not all temptations will take you down a path of evil. If you slip up once you aren’t going to be a criminal or a bad guy and the thing is that the direction temptations take you may even be a better choice. Temptations can present opportunities you may have never considered and you might write them off just because they seem shady and too good to be true. Just be careful. Make sure you determine all the possible outcomes associated with a temptation because you don’t want to make the wrong choice. Temptations exist everywhere and it is impossible to avoid them, just be ever vigilant and aware of them and temptations can be a very beneficial part of your life.

-Allan Nicholas

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