Archive for the ‘kindness’ Tag

Helping Hands

Reading: “Helping Hands, Saving Hands,” Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Aoyagi knows the importance of reaching out to our fellow members in the church. In his own crisis of faith it was the kind encouragement of his future wife that brought him back to the church. In his talk he encourages all of us to reach out to others:

Sometimes we feel that we are weak and lack the strength to rescue others, but the Lord reminds us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Sometimes I feel like I am unable to help others because I am too shy, or too busy, or lacking in some other resource. Reading Elder Aoyagi’s talk helped me see that even I can help others when I listen to the Spirit. Heavenly Father wants to help us keep all of his commandments, especially his commandment to help others.

Have you ever been the recipient of someone’s kindness? What did it mean to you?



Reading: “The Mormon Ethic of Civility,” from the LDS Newsroom

Tonight my mind is buzzing after reading this post by Monica Bielanko about the recent controversy over a quote from Elder Oak’s recent talk on religious freedoms.  The quote at the center of the controversy is this:

These incidents were expressions of outrage against those who disagreed with the gay-rights position and had prevailed in a public contest. As such, these incidents of violence and intimidation are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South.

Monica Bielanko was the first of many journalists and bloggers who interpreted this quote to say that Elder Oaks was equating the backlash many members felt after the Proposition 8 fight in California with the horrendous atrocities perpetrated against blacks during the civil right movement in the 60s.  If this were the case that would certainly be an inflammatory and incorrect statement.

However, I feel it is pretty clear that Elder Oaks chose to say this because he was trying to illustrate the principle that in a free country people shouldn’t face retaliation for voting a certain way or supporting a cause.  Luckily, there aren’t very many examples of where this has happened because Americans, in general, up to now, have been pretty tolerant of people who disagree with them.  The civil rights movement is one of the few well-known examples where people faced violence and personal retaliation for supporting a political position, and Elder Oaks invoked it as an example for this reason.  I think it is clear that he is not comparing the level of retaliation in the two events. Perhaps, in hindsight, he could have made this more clear, but a careful reading shows that the interpretation some have chosen to give it is not correct.

After this story blew up, however, it is clear from her blog post that some church members chose to attack Monica Bielanko personally for writing this story.  This violates the number one item Elder Oaks asked us to do in order to preserve our religious freedoms: “We must speak with love, always showing patience, understanding and compassion toward our adversaries.”

It is important to remember that in this day and age (and arguably, to some degree, throughout time) part of the job of journalists is to find the controversial quotes and make news stories about them.  This happens ALL THE TIME.  Most political controversies these days focus on single quotes taken out of context.  It is sad every time this happens, as it is sad now, but is pretty much what journalists do.  When we descend to the level of name calling and personal attacks, we are doing nothing to help our own cause, and we are violating our own standards of behavior.

This latest general conference focused a great deal on civility and showing respect to each other.  This latest controversy is an example, on both sides, of how a lack of civility degrades people and defeats peace.  Respect for each other, despite disagreement, is a fundamental building block of society.  I am grateful that we have prophets today who are helping to preserve civility in our society, and I hope we can all strive to live our lives more closely to the ideals that God has given us.