The YOLO Spirit

8th Inkblot
Rorschach Inkblot Test
Hermann Rorschach – 1921
I came across an acronym the other day which I had to look up: YOLO. It means you only live once. Reading the definition was a veritable Rorschach Inkblot* which caused me to immediately associate YOLO with the stupidity of the generation to which my kids belong.* Invariably, it seems that YOLO is the final words uttered before someone throws caution the wind and does something very regrettable at best–or disastrous at worst.  It is the credo of the entire Jackass genre of videography.

But thankfully, it didn’t take me too long to climb down off my high horse and admit that my kid’s generation doesn’t have the YOLO spirit cornered any more than the preceding 10 generations did.  The YOLO spirit has been around for a very long time. 

The 28th chapter of 2 Nephi is powerful doctrine that describes the operational tactics of Satan in his plan to deceive men and subvert the doctrine of Christ (which is a broader theme in the final chapters of 2 Nephi and the book of Jacob).  One of the fundamental tenets of Satan’s doctrine is YOLO.

Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. 2 Nephi 28:7

It is positively false doctrine in that it confuses our ‘one life’ with the brief span of mortality. 

Our comprehension of this life is that it is eternal life—that we are living in eternity today as much as we ever will live in eternity … Eternal life is to us the sum of pre-existence, present existence, and the continuation of life in immortality. George Albert Smith [“Mormon View of Life’s Mission,” Deseret Evening News, June 27, 1908, Church section, 2]

 In reality our mortal life is like a still-frame image taken from a full-length movie. A still image can never hope to adequately convey the message of the entire film. Yet, to continue the metaphor, one poorly-focused snapshot is often all we see of this life. 

The Neal A. Maxwell talk that I recently cited taught that because of the veil that limits our perspective, “the tests we face [in life] are real” and mortality will be no cake-walk. Because of this limited perspective, the YOLO spirit it is incredibly useful to Satan. Satan uses YOLO to artfully persuade men that if they don’t seize the moment, it will pass forever and leave them unfulfilled and somehow cheated. It’s very effective, but remains untrue.There is nothing like the perspective that the gospel provides in illustrating the pointlessness of the YOLO spirt, and the futility of trying to experience eternal life by living in the moment.

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* For the record, my kid’s generation really isn’t stupidI just like to carry on like it is
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