Alma counseled his son Shiblon to “bridle all [his] passions, that [he] may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). He told another son, Corianton, to “cross [himself]” and to “counsel with [his] elder brothers in [his] undertakings.” And he added, “give heed to their counsel” (Alma 39:9-10).
While our gut reaction to our circumstances may have some validity, it is rarely necessary or productive to make decisions or take action without thoughtful consideration. There are almost certainly facts that we are unaware of and perspectives that we have not considered. Sometimes, we just need time to calm down our emotions so that we can make a rational decision.
“The same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again,” warned Moroni (Mormon 8:19). Rash means “acting…without careful consideration of the possible consequences, impetuous” (Oxford English Dictionary). It makes sense that, if we act rashly, the consequences we experience may also seem rash. Taking more time to make decisions will result in better outcomes and will have a calming influence on the people around us, enabling them to make wiser decisions as well.
A story from the New Testament illustrates this point: In the city of Ephesus, a small group of men who were unhappy with the missionaries managed to assemble a mob, who took two of Paul’s companions into the large amphitheater. The mob was angry and passionate: “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.” The town clerk managed to calm the crowd down long enough to give them some advice: “Ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.” He reminded them that there were legal processes to follow if anyone had a legitimate grievance, and he asked them how they would look to other cities if they executed judgment by mob rule. The people followed his counsel and dispersed. (See Acts 19:21-41.)
Today, I will take time to think and gather information before making a decision or taking action. Particularly on issues I feel strongly about, I will be careful not to let passion overcome reason. I will follow Moroni’s warning and avoid judging rashly.