Shared humanity

This post originally appeared as part of the Email a Believer blog at RE Online

Sometimes I look at the world and am really encouraged by the love that people share with each other. Other times, I become disheartened because people don’t show that love, and potentially show or articulate hate. There are so many things that are sent to divide us that it is easy to give in to feelings that separate us from one another. It is easy to find fault in others but as a Latter-day Saint I always try and live by the Saviour’s teachings, one of which is:

…why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:3-4)

We often judge ourselves at our very best, but don’t allow other people the same courtesy judging them at their very worst.

Sometimes, however, we don’t judge people on their actions but we judge them based on preconceptions that we already have. Recently Russell M. Nelson, the current Prophet and President of the Church spoke to the NAACP, and in his remarks he said:

As recorded in the Book of Mormon, which we esteem as a scriptural companion to the Holy Bible, the Saviour invites “all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he [denies] none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God” (see 2 Nephi 26:33).

May I repeat that last phrase: “All are alike unto God.” You who are gathered here in this room strive to make this heavenly truth an earthly reality. I commend you for it. And yet we all realise that, as a society and as a country, we have not yet achieved the harmony and mutual respect that would allow every man and woman and every boy and girl to become the very best version of themselves.

How do we overcome this? President Nelson suggests:

The cure for what ails us was prescribed by the Master Healer, Jesus the Christ. When a taunting Pharisee challenged Him to identify the greatest commandment in the law, the Saviour’s response was most memorable and brief. It was filled with truth that leads to a joyful life. His instruction was first to love God with all our hearts and, then, to love our neighbours as ourselves (see Matthew 22:35–39).

He further highlighted our responsibility to love all people.

In 1963, after Medgar Evers’s death, mourners eulogized him with these words from 1 John 4:20: “If a man boasts of loving God, while he hates his own brother, he is a liar. He has seen his brother, and has no love for him; what love can he have for the God he has never seen?”

The first great commandment—to love our God—is inexorably yoked to the second great commandment, to love our neighbour. Together, we can extend this love to all God’s children—our fellow brothers and sisters.

Sometimes people feel justified in their intolerance or their comments. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I believe that all people are children of God, deserving of respect and love. I do not agree with everyone else, however, as one of my Church leaders said many years ago, we can disagree without being disagreeable. I have known, worked with and taught many people over the years with whom I disagree; each of them has been kind and caring. I should not focus on that which could separate us, rather I should focus on the shared humanity that we all have. Tearing someone else down does not raise me up.

As a Christian and as a Latter-day Saint I must stand up against intolerance. The problems of society seem to include in some areas a growing incivility and rudeness in public discourse. Things and people that we hold dear can be held up to public ridicule and widespread hatred and this is wrong.

As a Christian I feel it is my duty to strengthen the people I come into contact with in all my conversations. Is what I am saying building people up or tearing people down? Are negative comments shrouded in the excuse of “just being honest?”

Does this mean that we allow evil to go unchecked? Not at all, rather let us disagree but without the vitriol, ignorance and hatred which is becoming increasingly more evident within society.


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