Ancient prophets were probably prudent as well as prescient. They looked around and saw the realities of consequences. Seeing likely corollaries —“if/then” at its root—they could look ahead and conclude what might occur in the future. Inequities and iniquities would bring on “punishment.” Idolatry—including the sexually pleasurable worship of pagan gods and goddesses—would also weaken society, families and individuals’ well-being. Widespread corruption would corrode the bonds of civility or loyalty. Economic injustice would hollow out the nation’s financial health. So prophets called for watchfulness and personal introspection.
Those of us who are older—and who may have seen firsthand some later-in-life outcomes of life-long behaviors and attitudes—might also be if/then prophets. We know how logical consequences of waywardness can emerge to crowd out overall health. (E.g., If we eat too much sugar over our lifetimes, we can look for diabetes, obesity or dental problems. If we push at others with constant anger, we can expect strong pushback. If we live selfishly, we can eventually find ourselves disregarded.)
Granted, not all consequences come into our lives because of past misconduct. We can suffer problems brought to our doorsteps by the arrogant, unjust behaviors of others. Chaos and chance also yield unforeseen outcomes.
If/then thinking can get lost in a society bent on self-satisfaction, disregard of others or flagrant materialism. Any of us can get lulled into thinking that we can escape consequences. That’s why the prophets among us—and the prophets inside of us—might have a critical role in our nation right now: Sharing, proclaiming or warning those around us that if/then thinking still holds true.
An important first step: living circumspectly, watchfully. Another: Looking inside ourselves and rooting out what might eventually rot our physical, mental or spiritual health.
That’s what if/then prophets do….
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