A wise man gave me some advice when I was about 16-17 years old. “Continue to look for the good,” he said. I have tried to do that throughout my life – to look for the good in people, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to surround myself with things that are uplifting and inspirational and steer clear of things that are degrading or depressing.
I’ve enjoyed this somewhat naive way of living for fifty years, but every once in a while the darkness rears its head, gets up in my face, and I’m required to deal with it in the best way I know how. Sometimes the darkness and evil I see in the world doesn’t directly affect me, and I’ve had a tendency to just stick my head in a “love and light cloud” and ignore it.
But is this really what I should be doing? Can I look for the good and still be aware of the evil? The older I get the more I feel compelled to expose the darkness when I see it. Many of us with this “love and light” philosophy would prefer to stick our heads in the sand and pretend the evil and darkness doesn’t exist. We think if we focus on the good long enough, the light will overcome and dispel the darkness.
There may be quite a bit of truth to that. But I don’t believe we’re doing ourselves or our children any service by not addressing what is wrong in our lives or in our world.
Dinosaurs in living rooms eventually make messes that must be cleaned up.
I was pondering on this compelling urge I have to “call a spade a spade” when I see it – to point out “when the emperor is indeed wearing no clothes.” Primarily, when I see freedom being attacked, I feel an intense need to speak up.
How do I balance pointing out the bad with looking for the good and staying in the light?
This morning while asking myself this very question, I recalled a passage from the Doctrine and Covenants about how early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were advised to address the plunder, rape, murder and persecution heaped upon them in the 1800’s. They were told to document EVERYTHING that was done to them. Every injustice was to be documented and carried to the government leaders of the time. Then, this is what they were supposed to do next…
“And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—
Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things;
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (D&C 123:11,13-15, 17)
Cheerfully Do All Things That Lie In Our Power
Notice that phrase, “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power.” We don’t have to be fearful, sky-is-falling-fanatics. We don’t have to be angry, hateful or vindictive. Yet this instructional passage sounds like we can’t just sit back on our love and light cloud and pretend the evil is going to go away.
Here’s another example…
The Book of Mormon is a history of an ancient people who inhabited the Americas. Two prophets named Mormon and Moroni saw our day. Knowing the book would come forth in our modern era, they included stories that they felt would be applicable to us.
Moroni include a record of an ancient civilization called the Jaredites who were destroyed from within by a murderous “secret combination.” This secret combination infiltrated the Jaredite government and used secrecy to murder for power and gain. Here is the warning Moroni issued to us…
“Wherefore, O ye Gentiles (that’s us), it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved. (Ether 8:23-26)
Awake to a Sense of your Awful Situation
It sounds to me like putting your head in the sand isn’t the way to go. It sounds like if we want evil to be done away, we need to “awaken to a sense of our awful situation” and see what’s “gotten above us” in our governments and in our leadership. We will recognize them by their agenda… “seeking to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries and bringing to pass the destruction of all people.”
We can be cheerful as we do this. One might wonder how this is a cheerful task, but if we know we are standing in alignment with God, we can know that we are on the winning side. Because we know heavenly hosts are on our side we may “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)
So, I will continue to look for the good and strive to stay in the light, but as I do this I will continue to call a spade a spade. I will continue to waste and wear out my life in bringing to light the hidden works of darkness as I see them. My hope is that we, as a nation, may awaken to a sense of our awful situation. I am not good with a sword or other weapons. I’ll leave that to my husband, but I am good with the pen. And I will use it as long as I am able.