Friday, November 9, 2012


Tuesday is garbage pickup day in our neighborhood. Every Monday night we put out our black garbage can as to not miss the early morning pick up. Every two weeks, the recycle collector comes around, so we put our green recycle can out along with our black garbage can. Since my next door neighbor is better at keeping track of which week it is, I look to see if he has put out his green recycle can. If I see other green recycle cans out on the street, then I feel confident that it must be Recycle Tuesday.

It would be interesting to see if just one person put out their green can on the wrong week, if you would eventually see everyone else put out there recycle cans. I think there is a lesson to be learned in this simple example. The greater number of good people that believe, think, and or do things the same.. we usually have the assurance that it must be right. We tend to look to others, and put our trust in them.

The scriptures warn us that this could lead to problems.

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost"  2 Nephi 28:31

Using this same example with the garbage cans, let’s say, if we know that it is not “Recycle Tuesday” yet everyone has put there cans out, would we feel inclined to put our can out as well, so as not to be left behind? Or what if, no one has put out their cans, would we be the only ones to put our can despite looking like a fool?

Lately, I have been concerned with what I call “group think”. This is particularly a problem in Utah. We have a tendency to rely on others. We are told to stay within in the mainstream. Don’t question, just do.

Symbolic of the recyclable collection, a day will come when we will need to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and not be dependant on the arm of flesh to make sure we are ready for when the “collector” will come around for pick up even if no one else has their green recyclable cans out but us.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I can relate to this, the trash can things (ours in on a Tuesday too actually- always used to check my neighbour- now I check The Source (the official leaflet)
I think GroupThink is a problem everywhere....perhaps more extreme in certain areas of the US, but basically, everywhere, yes...We need to connect to the Official Source. It's way harder. Therein the test. And the reward.

Anonymous said...

I totally do that same thing with the garbage cans. I look at the rest of the street to determine if I should put my blue or green garbage can out along with the black one that week. If there are discrepancies among the neighbors I usually go with the majority. Or sometimes I even follow the neighbor who I know is pretty smart.

It isn't a huge deal with just garbage cans, but like you said in the post, this can be symbolic of a much more toxic "group think" gospel disorder among us.

Eleni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eleni said...

I'm sorry, I don't really know how to do this. Here it is again:

... or an impaired group think, "I'm seeking greater light and knowledge" disorder. It is a pattern easily fallen into no matter in which group you choose to stand.

The problem is the tendency to not be a leader in the exploring but to follow someone who you think is just a bit farther along than you. I've come to know this is a solitary journey, yet I am often found wondering what "the group" thinks about "this idea", or "that person". "They" still have influence on me.

Thank you Bare Record, for being inspired to share what you noticed. It made a difference for me, right when I was ready to hear it! Thank you

Anonymous said...

“It has been remarked that the more totalitarian a society is, for example, that of Russia or of Hitler’s Germany, the less its members feel any sense of sin. They can commit any evil without remorse as long as they feel they are acting as members of their collectivity. The only evil they fear is to be cut off from the community that takes their sins upon itself and “destroys” them. This is the worst of disasters, and the slightest indication of disunion with the group is the cause of anxiety and guilt. This is the way our world is going, and in such a world the spirit and the spiritual have no more meaning because the person has no meaning. But it is the vocation and mission of the contemplative to keep alive the spirit of man, and to nurture, at least in himself, personal responsibility before God and personal independence from collective irresponsibility.” Merton

R. said...

Excellent parable my friend!