Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Staying Hopeful in a Turbulent World

ISIS. Global Warming. Shootings. Political divisiveness. Refugees. Religious Freedom (or the lack thereof). Family values (or the lack thereof). Drug abuse.  And the list goes on...

These are the headlines that 2015 will be known for. For most people, there is something on this list to worry about (please comment below if none of these things worry you, and I will see you get mental health advice ASAP). In addition, some of these are troublesome as a matter of LDS Theology, and, of course, some are especially troubling to those who are negatively impacted by in a more specific way by these problems (my best to you).

In some ways, 2015 is an archetype of mortal life more generally. As President Boyd K. Packer once explained, mortal life is like a stage production that “has many plots and sub-plots that interweave, making it difficult to figure out who relates to whom and what relates to what, who are the heroes and who are the villains. It is further complicated because you are not just a spectator; you are a member of the cast, on stage, in the middle of it all!” (“The Play and the Plan”)

I am not immune from these trends.  I personally am concerned about several of the items above, as those familiar with my writing prior to starting this blog can attest.

But as I’ve observed men that I sustain as prophets and apostles want to do what Elder Jeffery R. Holland once described as 'attack[ing] double-digit depression' not just in the abstract, but when discussing these very topics we rightfully find disturbing.

A few examples:

In 2011, following a description of many of the moral evils we face (including the sexual revolution and the ills to family values facing us), President Monson said:

“My brothers and sisters, this—unfortunately—describes much of the world around us. Do we wring our hands in despair and wonder how we’ll ever survive in such a world? No.”

In 2014, while speaking about another one of the fears I mentioned—religious freedom—Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

“Despite the legal challenges and seeming momentum of efforts and trends against free speech and free exercise as they apply to religious motives, religious speech, and religious organizations, I am optimistic in the long run. I am like the character in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, who sang:

‘I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done and we might as well be dead,
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head’ ”

Elder Oaks is referencing here a wonderful song called ‘cockeyed optimist,’ which I like to play regularly:

And in 2015, Elder Jeffery R. Holland added his own prophetic optimism:

“So, if you haven’t noticed, I am bullish on the latter-days. In nothing could I have more faith than I have in God the Eternal Father; in Jesus Christ, His Son; in their redeeming gospel; and in their divinely guided Church. So, what do we owe our students in this? We owe them a comparable testimony and a life ‘of good cheer.” ‘The Savior asked for that so often that I personally consider it a commandment. However, worry and fear and pessimism and fretting can destroy anyone’s good cheer—yours and that of the people around you. So put a smile on your face, and cherish every day of your life!”

These statements of optimism are one of many reasons that I try to be optimistic about the future.  Being extreme in our worries doesn’t help anyone.  This does not mean we should deny that we should deny problems exist—or, at the other extreme, be apocalyptic. Rather, as Elder Oaks taught us at this past April Conference, when addressing concerns we should strive to “be moderate and measured in criticism and seek always for the broader view of the majestic work of God.”

My hope is that these blog posts I write—and more generally, dialogue among the American populace—will embrace the optimistic and measured approach that our prophets outline.

As always, these thoughts are my own, are intended to help, but do not necessarily reflect the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thanks for reading,

No comments:

Post a Comment