If you shouldn’t do it—don’t!

“If you shouldn’t do it—don’t!” New Era, Nov. 1971, 46

If you shouldn’t do it—don’t!

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System August 29, 1971. © 1971 by Richard L. Evans.

There are two sentences from two plays that suggest a subject. The first is the tearful utterance of a boy who had seen a terrible tragedy result from a series of angry, senseless circumstances. “I wish—” he said, “I wish it was yesterday.”1 The second is a similar sentence spoken by a person who had pressed a point too far, and received an answer she would rather not have heard: “I wish it were five minutes ago,” she said.”2 “I wish it were yesterday.” “I wish it were five minutes ago.” “I wish I hadn’t gone there.” “I wish I hadn’t done it.” “I wish I hadn’t said it.” We wish we had lived so that we wouldn’t have so much reason to wish we had done differently. This is the looking back in life that too often makes us wish we had farther foresight. There are accidents and honest mistakes, miscalculations and unforeseen events. But there are also sometimes blind and stubborn mistakes, angry mistakes, and sometimes deliberately dishonest mistakes that ignore principles and morals and the keeping of commandments. And while we may not know exactly how we shall feel when we do something we know we shouldn’t do, or say something we shouldn’t say, we do know for a certainty that there will be sorrow, regret, anxiety, uneasiness, and that we shall pay a penalty equal to, or greater than, any so-called satisfaction received. We do know the law of causes and consequences, and down deep within us, we do have a warning sense, an inner awareness against every cheap or shoddy, or dishonest or immoral, or cruel or unkind act or utterance. “I wish it were yesterday.” “I wish it were five minutes ago.” “I wish I hadn’t said it.” “I wish I hadn’t done it.” “Would you be exempt from uneasiness? [then] do nothing you know or even suspect is wrong. Would you enjoy the purest pleasure? [then] do everything in your power which you [honestly] believe is right.”3 And so we would plead with those who are young, and with others also: If you shouldn’t do it, don’t.