YOLO was the Thought of the Day on the classroom whiteboard.
Obviously someone had run out of inspiring and witty quotes (or just never had a Pinterest account...)
This overused and misused phrase has worked its way to becoming part of pop culture--which means that not only are you forced to hear/see it, you also see it in the mindsets and values of people (including yourself if you're not conscious of it.)
We start to value things not for their results, but for the pleasure they can give in the moment of doing/having them. Oh, I know I shouldn't eat it...but I'm just craving a sugar fix now. I really want that bag...though I have seven already. The adrenaline rush of the moment is what I'm going for. You see, it makes me feel so good...
The feel-good factor is what tips the balance, even if something legitimately serious is on the other side of the scale, be this other people's lives or your own. People use YOLO as an excuse to justify foolish or selfish decisions (actions, really; 'decision' implies rational and careful thought)--hence the ocean of sarcasm poking fun at YOLO.
I know I've written on YOLO before, but in a rather different vein--on youth, and what Ecclesiastes has to say about it--though both times I think you might be able to tell that I find YOLO one of the most annoyingly misused bad excuses ever (having to type it so many times in this post unsettles me.)
This time is different. This time, I was struck by the idea that there could be a truly good example of YOLO-ism, an instance in which the YOLO mentality was actually good and admirable.
And this best example, to me, of YOLO as it should be, is Queen Esther.
Esther was an ordinary girl gifted with extraordinary beauty.
(Most people would add, 'and courage'--but really, I prefer to see her as someone not much different from any one of us. After all, she initially was afraid, just as any one of us would have been.)
She was put into an unusual position--being Queen of the Persian Empire--for a more than unusual, an outstanding calling: preventing a genocide and in doing so preserving a legacy, not only of a people and culture today, but of God's Word and covenant.
She had to be brave, of course, to have accomplished that. She certainly was. She risked her security, her comfortable home and possessions, her power and status, and of course her life. She was perfectly aware of the consequences she risked--
--and she said, "If I die, I die!"
What makes Esther's YOLO so different from ours?
Esther's YOLO was different because she learned to see her life not as her one ticket to enjoy herself to the max, but as her one opportunity to attempt something worthwhile, even if it failed. As the Queen, she definitely knew how to enjoy life; she was fully aware of all the delight and pleasure life could give. After all, she had the Persian Empire at her disposal.
And that is precisely why she was so brave. As the Greeks on hubris, the higher the climb, the greater the fall. She was willing to risk all that--for something even more important.
The courage Esther showed is a very different courage from the YOLO courage that propels people to do silly things which invariably get photographed and end up as memes on the internet.
The modern YOLO implies we risk the privileges and blessings we already have in order to try and get ourselves more. In contrast, Esther risked hers in order to preserve those blessings for others.
We should risk our health, our bodies, our lives, only because something is even more important (and by something, and important, don't tell me you could seriously equate a 'sinfully delicious' dessert or an adrenaline rush. Much as I love desserts, I would rather be a long-lived vegan than a short-lived diabetic...)
This reminds me of a striking G.K Chesterton quote I saw on--no prizes for guessing--Pinterest.
We should say YOLO not because we value life and all it holds for us less--but precisely because we value it so much. The thought that we only live once should change the way we take risks, as well as what we take risks for.
This is a very clearly defined principle on the battlefield; it was also clearly defined for Esther in her decision.
The challenge is rather, how is it defined in your life?
What opportunities for 'good' YOLO-ism are there in our lives, which we are blind to or turn our eyes away from?
And even simpler, what are we risking for?
Let us die, not while skydiving, but in preventing a genocide.
We only live once, after all.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
all images from Pinterest unless otherwise specified. thanks, Pinterest!