United We Stand

I consider myself a patriot. I love my country. I’m proud to be an American. I’ve been studying the the first century of our nation. I believe that we continue to become a better, more civilized country and what makes it great is the background and cultures of her citizens.

With what has been going on at the border, I know that we will eventually handle the situation as the leaders in humanity that we are.

As I’ve been studying I’ve reflected on the last few years and it feels that we have stepped backwards. I’m of a generation that seemed apart from racial awareness, though we did have a repertoire of Pollack jokes, we didn’t think less of any culture or race or religion. I was young when Rodney King happened and I think that was the first discussion we had in school of racism as a current event.

Nine-eleven brought with it some high tensions. I’ve wondered if when some US citizens turned on others, like the idiot that shot the sheikh at the convenient store here in Arizona, if that wasn’t one of the hoped outcomes those terrorists had when killing our citizens.

Fear and ignorance has cost our country greatly. My children hear much more about racism and cultural stereotypes than I ever had, though they don’t know any Pollack jokes.

I believe the United States is the greatest country in the world because it can take the best of cultures and religions from around the world and blend them with freedom, tolerance, and love. We are the United States of America.


I Hope You Fail

I remember looking at the red dirt as I walked up a small hill—an oddity in Northern Argentina where everything is flat. I remember the feeling I had for my companion; at the time I might have called it justified disdain, now I realize it was hate.

I remember my companion stopping at the top of that hill and calling me out for my poor attitude. I was embarrassed, because deep down I knew I was out of line. But I was also angry that he dared point that out, so I laid into him verbally, hitting him with everything I could think of.

I’ve felt those same monstrous feelings many times in my life. It’s more than dislike, or intolerance. It’s more than frustration or annoyance. The feeling brings with it the darkness, greater than resentment and disdain. I can call it hate, but that doesn’t quite explain it. Its more than, “I hate you,” it’s more like “I hope you fail.”

Through the Atonement of Christ, I had a change of heart, and by the end of that month we were close friends, and continue to be today. I often reflect on that moment, and have learned many gospel lessons from my weakness.

I spent a lot of my life, treating this existence like a race. The analogy almost fits. There’s a start and a finish, there are lanes (bounds) that we run in, we have coaches and fans cheering us on, and we’ve got to put forth some effort to advance down the track.

But the more I think about it, life is nothing like a race.

In a race, if the guy next to me trips, I have a better shot at winning. His loss is my gain. No, life is nothing like a race.

Christ said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

Our invitation into heaven has nothing to do with the choices of others. We will be held accountable for our own sins, and it is through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind can be saved. Our qualifying for the saving grace is dependent on our obedience to the principles and participation in the ordinances of the gospel, particularly faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the holy spirit.

If the guy next to me trips—struggles in this existence, it doesn’t increase my chances of making it to one of those mansions. In fact, if I don’t stop and help the guy up, I could find myself in need of repentance for any number of transgressions. We are commanded to love one another. As disciples of Christ we have covenanted to bear up one another’s burdens, and mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

josephHoping someone fails is more than not helping a neighbor, it’s pushing him down. To root for someone’s failure, exposure, or downfall is obviously unchristian; I think they are similar feelings to those Cain had for Abel, Rueben for Joseph, Saul for David, and so on. Isn’t this feeling the very drive of evil? Doesn’t Satan desire God to fail?

phelpsAnd yet contrast these feelings with those lessons of the righteous like Joseph who after being sold into Egypt, incarcerated, and enslaved, openly forgave his brothers, loved them, and tried to help them out. Joseph Smith had many that hoped for his failure, some of those closest to him, such as W. W. Phelps who he responded in love, “Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, For friends at first, are friends again at last.”

As true Disciples of Christ we ought instead root for the success of others. Rather than push a fellow down, let us pick him up and help him along. Love should be our tool, not envy, charity, not pride, forgiveness, not resentment. I have wronged a good many people in my life. I hope that they are kinder to me than I have been to others.

Dnews 20.CESUchtdorf.0113.chnPresident Uchtdorf stated, “My beloved fellow disciples of the gentle Christ…we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.”

If we take a step back and look at God’s plan, we see that at one point in time we were all on the same side. All of us here in this existence that have kept their first estate, waged war against Satan and his followers. In the pre-mortal life we rooted for each other, we helped each other out.

CU040423-006hrI believe that many of us chose to come to this existence, having hope that the Atonement of Christ could save us from physical and spiritual death. Also having faith in Christ that he would fulfill his promise and that through his sacrifice we could be made whole and receive eternal life. And also having charity, love for those around us. Perhaps in that Great War we persuaded those that struggled with the prospect of leaving Father’s presence, dying physically and spiritually, to not worry, because all of us up there would be down here, and we could bind together in families and wards, and communities, and nations, and help one another to keep our second estate.

Life is not a race. We are all on the same team. Please help me to succeed. I hope you succeed.