I had these thoughts in the back of my mind as I came across this quote from Machiavelli's The Prince:
"Many men have imagined republics and principalities that never really extisted at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation."
Let us consider, for a moment, the raising of a child. My child, to be specific. Someday I would like for him to speak english, dress himself, use the bathroom by himself. It is widely accepted that the best way to teach my child to talk is to speak to him as though he already can. I should carry on conversations with him, and ask him questions as though I really expect a response. Granted, I should, perhaps, speak slowly and repeat myself often just so that meanings and pronunciations are more clear. However, it is obvious that I should not start him out with the "My name is..." and verb congugations that are used in language classes.
As for dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom, it is the height of folly to think that the best way to teach him to do these things could be to simply act as though he already can. Were I to treat my one year old child as though he could use the toilet by himself it would be most unpleasant for both of us.
I can imagine the Church power structure as it should be. It wouldn't matter that women wouldn't have official authority to change things because they wouldn't want anything changed, and even if they did they would only need to mention it to their husband, home teachers or bishop, and the problem would be understood, taken seriously, and addressed properly. I can see how this could be a very pleasant and clearly organized way of running things, and perhaps if God were to say so, the ideal way of running things. The problem I see with it is that people just aren't that good natured right now. As nice as it would be if things were like this, they aren't.
If you assume that bad behavior leads to unhappiness (wicked never was happiness), and also assume that the ultimate goal of existence is to be happy (men are that they might have joy) then the questions to consider are:
1. Is it more important to maximize people's happiness, or to most speedily make people good?
I suspect, given the conditions of mortality, that it is more important to make people good as quickly as possible.
2. Do people become good people faster when we act like they already are good people (and thereby allow them opportunities to be bad) or do they become good faster when we assume they will be bad and create safeguards preventing bad behavior?
I don't know the answer to this question, and I suspect that it varies widely between individuals and behaviors. All I know for certain is that creating safeguards to prevent bad behavior help to maximize the current happiness of individuals.
I personally feel that the best way to help us be good and treat each other better as men and women is to create safeguards that prevent bad behavior. I feel that an excellent safeguard would be to put women into positions of authority and status within the church. Because as it stands holding the priesthood is about having power, presiding is about 'being the boss' and men who don't really hold the Priesthood perform priesthood duties all the time. The Priesthood structure also gives a rather striking impression that men are more important, more worthwhile, and just plain better than women, even if it shouldn't.
The message we should be getting isn't the message we are getting. I'm sure it's because we aren't understanding it properly, but the fact of the matter is we aren't hearing what we're supposed to. I think the fastest way to fix this (and thereby increase happiness) is to alter how things are taught so that when we hear it, though we may be imperfect, we understand what we're supposed to.