HG quoted me in her Wheat & Tares piece and somebody commented as follows-Specifically in regards to testimony, do we gain testimony of modesty the same way that we gain a testimony of WoW?
1) live the principle on faith.
2) observe other people not live the principle.
3) wait for something bad to happen to them.
4) tie their misfortune back to their non-compliance with the principle.
In the BoM we have a discussion of faith and experimenting with the word Alma 27-34. This passage indicates that if we do something on faith and good things happen as a result then we can have perfect knowledge in that thing.So, my mom’s observing that her cigarette smoking twin died of cancer fits into your analysis.
I believe that people see in this an equation for testimony building, securing the blessings of heaven, and controlling their destiny. Do a thing, if good things result then the thing was "true". Now you have a testimony and can testify that the thing was true. Once you understand the formula, you can repeat the results over and over again to ward off calamity.And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know
You pay tithing despite poverty and you are blessed with continuing good health - IOW "tithing every day keep the Dr. away!", or maybe you are blessed with food from good friends and neighbors, or you become the surprised recipient of a financial windfall. This is how we are conditioned to expect that tithing and gaining a testimony of tithing is supposed to work.
Therefore the commenter raises a valid point. His mother did not die of cancer and her smoking twin sister did. This bolsters her testimony that the Word of Wisdom protected her and by extension that her twin sister could have had the same success if she had made the same choices. The sister deserved what she got!
There are of course patterns surrounding prudent life choices and reckless life choices and I believe everyone would be well advised to make prudent life choices.
I believe the danger exists primarily in thinking that we deserve the good things that happen to us and that others deserve the bad things that happen to them. This is a natural human tendency. If we are successful in the stock market then we are smarter than the rest. If we are the king of the food chain then we are "fitter" than the lowly beasts. We protect ourselves from an unpredictable and cruel world by believing in the just world hypothesis. This is a luxury born of privilege - as in I have the luxury of constructing a narrative wherein I deserve the quality of life of the top 1% of humanity because I am privileged to live the lifestyle of the 1%. This is the gospel of prosperity (or at least security).
The particularly ugly side of the just world hypothesis is that it helps us to feel justified in turning our backs on those less fortunate than us because we believe (more or less) that they deserve to be where they are.
In summary, I believe patting ourselves on the back that we are so much better than our brothers and sisters is antithetical to the message and spirit of Jesus Christ.