Wednesday, May 18, 2016



Ever since that damn serpent tricked old Eve into eating a silly piece of fruit in the Garden of Eden, we have been plagued by an endless series of temptations.

Oh sure, we can resist temptation, but it always seems to pop out of the woodwork again.

Think about it.

Through each day of your life, there is probably some temptation that prods you to do something that you know you're better not doing. That piece of chocolate cake? Uh huh ... wiling to put on a couple of extra pounds for a minute or two of sweet delight? Well, if it's there, it's there, right? I mean someone has to eat it. You can't let it go to waste, and anyway, tomorrow you can always skip lunch.

And so the bargaining begins.

That's what we do. If we want something badly enough, sure as hell, we'll find a way to justify having it.

Quite frankly, I have no problem with the inner dialogue that goes on inside one's head when facing temptation. One little voice in your head says, "Go for it ..." while another little voice says, "Don't do it ..." Most of these situations are fairly trivial, such as the temptation to eat a piece of chocolate cake. Others, however, have far-reaching ramifications.

You've probably never been tempted to rob a bank, but have you ever been tempted to cheat on your taxes? Both are crimes. Both could land you in jail. Still, padding a certain expense on a tax form seems reasonable to some people. Why? I suppose it's because many of us feel the government is robbing a bank — our bank, our hard-earned savings.

See? Bargaining. Justification.

The worst form of temptation comes from outside of us. Over the course of our lives, other people have tempted us to do something we were not entirely comfortable doing. Left to our own devices, most of us would live relatively sedate and quiet lives. In a group situation, all that pressure from more daring-dos invades our thoughts. No one wants to be seen as missing out of something that might have a thrill factor to it. No one want to be seen as cowardly, even if that means sacrificing s most cherished moral principle. No, we give in because we're either fools or, perhaps more significantly, because we secretly want to do the things we know we shouldn't do.

Want to try some marijuana? Want to go skinny-dipping? Want to egg the Henderson's house? Want to play strip poker? Want to try three-way sex?

Oh, the possibilities are endless. Where danger lurks, so too does temptation. And for some reason, we love danger. Not real danger, not like walking the streets of Harlem in the middle of the night with a signboard around our neck proclaiming, "Black lives don't really matter." No, we don't toy with suicide, but we do like to push the envelope and experience the thrill of the unknown.

And really, isn't that what temptation is all about — testing our ability to do what we have never done, testing our ability to confront something utterly taboo and see if we escape unscathed.

Let's be honest. Temptation can be the stuff of life, pushing us beyond our limits, creating new experiences, and adding a little zip to our otherwise mundane existences. Temptation can have a positive effect by helping us realise our full potential. What we have to foresee, however, is how giving in to temptation will create consequences down the road, consequences that we may not be willing or happy to accept. We don't rob a bank because twenty years in prison is not an acceptable risk or outcome. We might not cheat on our taxes because the prospect of being fined some ridiculous amount is not an acceptable risk or outcome. We might not share our bed with two other partners because losing both as friends or lovers is not an acceptable risk or outcome. On it goes. It's important to know what reaction may evolve from any action we take. It's important to balance the danger with the risk.

If you can't foresee outcomes, then it is probably better not to concede to the temptation. Don't be a dumb ass. Don't let someone tell you that, if you jump off a building, you'll probably bounce when you hit the ground. Trust me, you won't bounce. You'll splat. Don't let that colleague in the office tell you that an afternoon in the No-Tell Motel will have absolutely no repercussions. Sure, you'll bounce for an hour or so, but eventually, one of you will slip up, and then what? Will you lose your job? Lose your spouse and family in a divorce? Lose your self-integrity? Oh, it still sounds like splat to me.

I do understand that we all need a little danger in our lives, but you have to consider the risk factor as well. I have no doubt that folks do give in to temptation, time and time again. However, temptation need not be irrevocably calamitous. Think of giving in to temptation as somewhat akin to skydiving. You can't be 100% sure that your parachute will open, so there is definitely an element of danger. The possibility of a splat is in the cards, but the odds are in your favour that your chute will open, you'll drift safely to the ground, and you'll be able to share that unbelievable "rush" with anyone who will listen.

Keep that temptation to experience something dangerous within the confines of your moral compass and plain old common sense. Deep down, we all know what is right and what is wrong, and we all know what is exciting and what is downright idiotic. We just have to listen to that voice inside our heads that helps us make right choices.




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