The October 2015 General Conference was one of the most significant events in decades. At 1:30 p.m. on October 4, Elder oaks reconciled and harmonized the seemingly contradictory commandments that we love all others yet also without compromising or diluting known truth. This was just one of multiple "must study/must apply" discourses.
Obedience to this commandment may be challenging in our coming "election season" when Americans are asked to apply our values, goals, and priorities by our votes. And, yes, despite our world wide Church, the following poem is dedicated to my "fellow citizens", for if this "land choice above all other lands" should fail and fall, what will happen to our world? .
91. Fellow Americans …Let us Talk
You may think this a one-sided conversation,
But things are changing so fast in our nation,
And I now “hear you” through your acts and speech
Perhaps as well or better than if each
Of you were sitting with me now,
Striving to be as cordial as our days allow.
How turbulent are these times!
To start, might we agree upon “ONE THING”
And that is, in America we may sing
A song of life and love and hope unique
From all other flesh that we may see or seek.
Differences in our births or the trials of our lives
Cannot negate a truth which enemies despise--
We are blessed to be “Fellow Americans”.
Of all the times and lands who’ve gone before,
There are few, if any, who have been given more.
Thus we are offspring of generations
Whose labors/sufferings created this great nation.
When you agree we are their “heirs”
I pledge my outstretched hand and humblest prayer--
For we can surely talk.
Since honor compels us to concede we share a debt,
Despite our woes we’ll hold “discussion” yet,
And seek to find some other things to share,
Since honoring others’ views is something that we dare.
We know God gives superior love and reason,
To those who seek His “Olive Leaf”* this season.
United, we may overcome today’s trials!
In nations far away which have labored less,
We see conspiring leaders who possess
Only the arts of fraud, and jealousy, and strife.
They do not shrink to demand we give our life
Either as vassals of their own vengeful plans
Or victims who must sacrifice to their commands.
Deity does not ask us to submit!
Since we have common origins, then the sound
Of despots and warlords now heard the world around
Inspires us to unite as our forebears did
And push aside the differences by which they lived,
And exert our freedom to decide
How we as Americans, should live or die.
That, fellow Americans, is good cause to talk!
We shall talk…as fellow heirs…and brothers!
Unlimited non-commercial usage allowed.
* "Olive Leaf"
1. In the Bible, it references "peace", "charity" and the "truth of faith". (Biblemeanings.info)
2. "On July 4, 1776, a resolution was passed that allowed the creation of the Great Seal of the United States. On the Great Seal, there is an eagle grasping an olive branch in its right talon. The olive branch traditionally has been recognized as a symbol for peace." (Wikipedia)
3. In the 1830s, it was the term used by Brother Joseph to describe the 88th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants: ""....plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us.”
"And now, behold, we will resist wickedness even unto bloodshed. We would not shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land. We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us. We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do. But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us. Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God."
Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign 2014, "The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship"
"With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part….Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them…In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.20 In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."
I am discovering that merely one way to achieve Elder Oaks' reconciliation of seemingly opposing principles (absolute charity toward others tempered by unswerving conviction to God's commands and gospel) is found in service.
For example, when our county holds its yearly "Clean Up America" campaign, more than 1/3 of all volunteers are "Mormons"--although we account for less than 7% of the total population. When I am engaged in such a shared service project with those of other faiths, no one is debating my testimony that Jesus lives-- we're all sweating too hard together for such wasteful agitation.
Thus, I usually begin my explorations with others by first seeking common ground. Mutual respect; shared values; and an undeniable joint commitment to honorable causes precludes unproductive debate or religious contention.