Fall 2004

10 Directives to Strengthen Our Lives

08 Sep. 2004

Transcript

10 Directives to Strengthen Our Lives

 
Brothers and sisters, it’s good to be with you. As Sister Bateman mentioned, we have a tender spot for LDS Business College because three of our daughters went to school here.
You don’t look a lot different than the people in Asia or Asia north. I find I need to run through these countries because we’ve gone a few places and someone will come up and say you didn’t mention where I live. So in Asia North we served in Japan, Korea and Eastern Russia. In Asia we served in Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Singapore. Any of you that might have served or are from any of those countries have a great and wonderful heritage.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t know whether you realize who you are and the importance that you are in the great plan that our Father has for His children of the world.
I want to talk about some of the things that are happening and some of the things that will happen. Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “We live in troubled times, very troubled times. We hope and we pray for better days, but that is not to be…. No one will be spared the trials to come. No one will be spared the trials common to home and family, work, disappointment, grief, health, aging, ultimately death.” We’ll probably all go through that. Some of us are going through it in different stages now. (Boyd K. Packer, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 7). He went on to quote out of 2nd Nephi, chapter 32, the 2nd to 5th verses. I’m not going to take the time to do that because of the amount of time we have. These verses are to remind us who we are and that we have the Holy Ghost to direct us, to help us, and to guide us, that we should know what we should be doing and be able to gain the inspiration the Holy Ghost will give to us.
The fourth and fifth verses in 2nd Nephi, chapter 32, say, “Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive
the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
Now I want to use another scripture from the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. The 56th verse says,
“Even before they were born, they, with
many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come
forth in the due time of the Lord.”
That’s us. We were prepared, and I don’t know whether you’ve ever done this, but sometime you will question yourself with Why was I born now? Why am I here now? Why wasn’t I one of those members that had to cross the big plains with a wagon or hand cart, or Why wasn’t I during the dark ages, or Why wasn’t I during the time of Noah when everybody said that crazy old man is out in the back yard building a boat and there isn’t even any water around. Why are you born now? Then that scripture goes on to say, the due time of the Lord is “to labor in his vineyard, for the salvation of the souls of men.” That’s who you are. Now the most important salvation you will gain is that of your salvation, what you’re going to do.
Now 30 percent of you are married; that’s wonderful. If you are married, work at your marriage because it’s the most important thing you will ever have and your companion is the most important person you will ever have. For you who are not married, seek out a companion that is worthy to make your marriage an eternal marriage because that’s very important and the things that you are going to do are important.
I am going to share with you about ten things I feel are pertinent and important to you as an individual and as a member of the Church. As Sister Bateman mentioned, she was not a member of the Church. There are some of you who may not be members of the Church. You should gain great friendship from those around who are, because you are a child of God as we all are, and none of us are exempt from that. We are all children of our Father in Heaven and He teaches us and has taught us and will continue to do so.
Now this world that we live in is in a tough state. I’ve heard President Hinckley say and I’ve heard President Faust say, among others, that the only difference between Sodom and Gomorrah and today is that Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities. Today wickedness is all over the entire world and we are a part of the world. But we do not have to be part of the world. We need to set ourselves different standards. Some of you have children, some of you don’t. But you are children not only of our Father in Heaven but of earthly parents. I hope that your parents taught you. If they did, that’s wonderful. If they didn’t, then you set the resolve that you will teach your children.
Brother Packer said on a different occasion this: “If all your children know about the gospel is what you have taught them at home, how safe will they be? Will they reject evil because they choose to reject it?” (Boyd K. Packer, “Agency and Control,” Ensign, May 1983, 66). If you want your children to grow spiritually teach them the doctrines of the gospel. What we are to learn is the doctrines of the gospel, and we learn them from the teachings that we gain from the scriptures—the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price. We learn by reading them and studying them.
Make sure that you have a personal testimony and witness of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon’s teachings are mainly a father teaching his children. Father Lehi teaches Nephi and Laman, Lemuel, Sam and all of his children. Mosiah teaches his sons and the sons of Mosiah. Alma teaches Alma the Younger. Helaman, son of Alma, teaches Helaman, his son. And of course, Mormon teaches Moroni. Throughout the scriptures they are teaching. I’m going to use a couple of scriptures. You don’t have to look them up because I’m going through them quickly but I’ll tell you what they are. You can write them down and if you want to look them up later, that’s fine. Alma 37th chapter, 13th verse says, “O remember, remember, my son Helaman, how strict are the commandments of God…..If ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land—but if ye keep not his commandments ye shall be cut off from his presence.” Let me come back to that scripture and use it a little bit more. Alma was teaching his sons in all of that part of the Book of Mormon and he wanted them to know of the things that they should know. He referred back to the Liahona that Father Lehi had when they came to the promised land in this part of the world. And he said this: “For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better promised land.” (Alma 37:45). In Alma 37:46 it says: “O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way.
We really do have it easy. When you travel you get into an air-conditioned car, then you get out and go into an air-conditioned building, and you have these wonderful accommodations that you are able to study in and it is very easy. We are promised great blessings and we have received great blessings. But he goes on to tell us to not be slothful because the easiness of the way is prepared, that if we will look we may live forever, that we will take care of these sacred things, that we will look to God and live.
Now my brothers and sisters, follow what Christ’s teachings are, and what we are taught in the scriptures. If you follow their course they will lead you and guide you.
Now I want to use another example. When you read the Book of Mormon you pick up things that are taught and you will find that a great, great grandson will teach the same things that his great, great grandfather taught. In the book of Helaman it’s the same thing. In the 9th and 12th verses of Helaman, chapter 5, he says, “O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake… that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ…. And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation;… a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
Make sure your foundation is firm wherever you build it and it is based upon the gospel. I want to share ten things that will help all of us. I don’t care what station of life you’re in, whether you’re already married, whether you’re planning on getting married, or whether you’re just going to school to try get an education or whether you’re grandparents.
1-Share the gospel: You are always teaching the gospel. You know when a prophet says something we should always listen to what he says. When you get another prophet that says the same thing, we’d better listen intently. When we get a third prophet that says basically the same thing, we better well know that we ought to do that. Now in my lifetime I remember President David O McKay saying “Every member a missionary.” I remember President Spencer W. Kimball saying the same thing, “Do it! Share the Gospel.” He challenged us as members of the Church to bring one person each year into the gospel. Now President Hinckley is saying the same thing. They were all missionaries and we need to look to bring souls unto Christ. Pray earnestly as President Hinckley says to bring people unto Christ. When I came home from my mission, I didn’t know who I was going to marry. I met a wonderful young lady who was not a member of the Church and didn’t know a lot about it. After studying, she joined the church and is now my eternal companion. Let the Lord guide you as to where you need to be to gain that.
2-Attend your sacrament meetings every week: Be where you ought to be when you ought to be there. In Jarom 1:5 it says that they observed to keep the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord. The Savior said in 3rd Nephi 18:10: “Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.”Attend your sacrament meetings wherever you are. You can go throughout this world and you are not far from a sacrament meeting being held. Always remember to do that.
3-Have your daily personal and family prayers: If you’re married, kneel down with your companion, hand in hand, and talk to the Lord, taking turns doing it. I will add one little thing Sister Bateman and I do that you ought to do. When we get through our prayers we look at each other eye to eye and say “I love you” Love your companion and treat your companion as who they are—a son or daughter of God.
Now I’m going to skip over a couple of scriptures here, but 2nd Nephi 32 in the eighth verse says: “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” If you find yourself in a situation where you say, “Well I’m tired, I won’t pray today, tonight or in the morning,” you are following the evil spirit which teaches a man not to pray. Don’t! Just make sure that you pray always so that you cannot get into bed at night without saying your prayers. You just have the “guilties” if you do. When you pray, don’t pray and then “amen,” and into bed. Listen to what the Lord will say to you. He will answer your prayers. He will give you the inspiration. Listen for the direction that He will give to you.
4-Personal and family scripture study: Study the scriptures, read the scriptures every day. You who have been on missions, you had two hours every day to study the
scriptures. That was wonderful. You don’t have that much time now, but you have enough time to read something in the scriptures every day. Do that, and then ponder and think about that which you read. I will give you a reference that you can look up later: 1st Nephi 19:22-23. Now I will use this one scripture in Acts 17 where the Apostle Paul is teaching. In the 11th verse he says, “They received the word…and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Brothers and sisters, do you know that it’s true. Do you know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was here upon the earth when He was here? Do you know that it has been restored in its fullness today? Search the scriptures so that you will know that it is so and that it is true.
5-Pay your tithes and your offerings: “Will a man rob God? yet you have robbed me.” (Malachi 3:8) Paying your tithing is not a matter of money, it is a matter of faith. Do you have enough faith to pay your tithing? I’ll promise you that you will be able to make all your commitments and make all your ends meet if you pay your tithing. The Lord is promising that either in Malachi 3:8-11, or in 3 Nephi 24: 8-11 also, it says He will open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it, and that he will rebuke the devourer, and He will make you prosperous if you pay your tithing.
6-Families can be eternal: Now those of you who are married, I hope you married in the temple, because it is the only place you can make a marriage eternal. If you’re married and haven’t been to the temple then put your life in order and go. Always look for a companion that is worthy to go to the temple because there is something that is very special about having an eternal companion rather than somebody that will not be yours when they die or you die, “Until death do you part.” So make sure that your family is eternal because that’s our Father’s plan. I hope that all of you have a Family Proclamation with you. Read the Family Proclamation, study it. Let us have it on our walls, take it off the wall and read it and look at it because it teaches great truths and principles. Hold your family home evenings, be at family home evenings, and talk to each other to get the ideas that other people have.
7-Temple and Family History: Have you been to the temple? Go back as often as you can. As close as it is you ought to go quite often. We all have the responsibility to seek out our ancestors, because we cannot be saved and exalted without them and they cannot be saved without us. So we need to do that to teach our families. Elder Packer wrote in the Shield of Faith, “The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Shield of Faith,” Ensign, May 1995, 7). That is the ultimate goal. As the Father said in Moses, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39).
8-Sing the hymns of Zion: There is nothing nicer than to sing the hymns. When we were in Korea, the Koreans had beautiful voices, just naturally beautiful voices. I won’t take the time to tell you about the stories there. Just sing the hymns; they’re wonderful.
9-The service of the Lord: When you are in the service of the Lord, when you are in the service of your fellow beings as King Benjamin said in Mosiah, “You are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17). You serve. Be willing, no matter what the calling comes, that you will say, yea Lord, I will go and do. It doesn’t matter what the calling is. What matters is whether or not you are willing to do it. So be willing to serve wherever the Lord will call you to serve. And understand that you will be released. Accept the release with the same graciousness that you accepted the call. At October Conference I will be released as one of the general authorities of the Church, and people say, “Well, what are you going to do next?” I said to my stake president, “Well it would be nice to be a primary teacher.” It doesn’t matter, whatever the Lord calls us to do.
10-The Strength of Youth; Keeping the Standards: I will refer to the 37th chapter of Alma, the 32nd verse to the 37th verse. These verses have seventeen things that we need to do. I’m going to run through these seventeen things. “And now, my son, remember the words which I have spoken unto you; trust not those secret plans unto this people, but teach them an everlasting” number one, “hatred against sin and iniquity. Preach unto them,” number two, “repentance, and,” number three, “faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to,” number four, “humble themselves and to be,” number five, “meek and,” number six, “lowly in heart; teach them to,” number seven, “withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to,” number eight, “never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.”
The 35th verse goes on to say, “O, remember, my son, and,” number nine, “learn wisdom in thy youth; yea,” number ten, “learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.” Verse 36, “Yea, and, number eleven, “cry unto God for all thy support; yea,” number twelve, “let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea,” number 13, “let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea,” number 14, “let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.” In the 37th verse, number 15 “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will,” and here’s a promise, “direct thee for good.” And He will direct you. Number sixteen, “Lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep;” number 17, “and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things,” then the final promise, “ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
Now brothers and sisters remember these things. Oh remember, remember the gospel of Jesus Christ is true; it is restored in its fullness. Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. He lives! Joseph Smith is His prophet; Gordon B. Hinckley is His prophet as well as ours. Listen intently to what they teach. Every six months we receive instructions from the prophets of God. Follow what they teach. Know that it is all true. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Empowered Students, Involved Citizens

08 Sep. 2004

Transcript

Empowered Students, Involved Citizens

 
I’m delighted to be here among all of you because of my association with LDS Business College and because of the fine people that I’ve had opportunity to work with.
 
It should be very clear to you as we visit today that the success of the Utah Campus Compact and civic engagement is for one reason alone: good people care deeply about  the subject of Utah Campus Compact. People cared deeply and there’s no one who cares more than President Woodhouse. He has been not only a strong advocate in the short time that I’ve been on board, but he has probably the most longevity in seeing the history of this work and has been much of a strong hold.
 
I begin today by telling you how delighted I am to be amongst you. How delighted and impressed I am that you would take this hour which is your time to eat lunch and take a break from studies. I’m very impressed to be able to be in this room. The first time I came here last spring, I was fortunate to come to a devotional where Chief Justice Christine Durham had been invited to speak. She was here actually as part of a Utah Campus Compact month of action event. Your great leaders here at LDS Business College were blessed to be the only ones able to get the chief justice to speak during that month of action. I was delighted to be in this room and so motivated to here her take time out of her very busy schedule to come and talk to students in this very room about the history of civics education and her role now as a judge. How much she cares that we come out of our education civically minded and caring about our community. As she spoke to us that day, I was more motivated. I even marked on my calendar that a couple of weeks from now Governor Olene Walker is slated to speak here. I was so delighted to know that I could come again in this same room and be so motivated.
 
I was a little surprised when Matt Tittle called and said, “We have a slot open would you come and speak?” Immediately I felt overwhelmed, and thought they must have common folk mixed in with these very impressive leaders that come. I also felt so honored to come and share some thoughts with you, because the very topic we’re talking about includes us all. It is not for the chief justice alone or the governor. It is for common folks like me and you because it is about impacting our lives.
 
As I put together my talk, I had a thought come to me that I heard this summer at one of my trainings that really I thought said so much in a really comical way. It said, “I come to you. I have few answers and many more questions. I am as confused as ever but I believe I am confused at a higher level about more important questions.” As I heard this statement, I thought that is exactly what has happened to me. I have far less answers and I have so many more questions. And although I have far fewer answers, my questions are at a higher level. Maybe higher education does that to us.
 
You have all come from high school settings in the last couple of years to higher education.  Higher education is higher thought, advancing on the knowledge and the base that we already have. As I have had the opportunity to think more deeply about more complex questions I probably am, in some ways, as confused as ever. But I am also as committed as I could ever be about my role and the opportunities I have as a citizen, as a member of the Church, and in the capacity that I am here. What it is that I’m to do?
 
As I share some thoughts today my real goal—if I don’t do one other thing—is to speak to you directly. I want you to come away thinking a little bit more about your own path. We’re here today to talk about civic engagement and I laugh because it’s a higher education term. You’re probably thinking what is civic engagement? Why do we use that term?
 
There’s no shortage of definitions for civic engagement. It embodies a spectrum of ideas but at the most simple level it is what you know of and think of as volunteerism and service. It goes beyond that to participatory citizenship, beyond that to what you may know as character education, such as the classes that Keith Poelman spoke about with service learning. It also embodies civic education, and democracy in action. We sometimes use the words “civic learning.” As Keith Poelman explained so well, what we’re really talking about is putting into action the knowledge that we gain. It’s taking our action and having it impact our attitudes. We may do that in a variety of ways, but the heart of it is being a good citizen, being someone who is informed and takes an active role on all levels. It is turning knowledge into action. Its experiential learning. It’s taking what you learn and using it, not just to make a living but to make the world a better place.
 
 Last year our campaign used a quote from Sir Winston Churchill that said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” One of our biggest challenges at the Utah Campus Compact office is helping students like you understand what we are talking about: how students can get involved. We have had some success by having the students steer the ship, with student body presidents like Matt Harvey meet with us often to give ideas of what they think students on their campus need.
 
I did make one really good call last year. I hired two young people to come work in my office. I hired one from the University of Utah, probably the most dyed-in-red Utah fan you’ve ever met. And I hired this other person from BYU. She was almost ready to graduate and all of her family had attended BYU. I thought I hope they do okay together, and I hope they can get around this idea of civic engagement.
 
The very first day they stepped into the office I said, “I have an idea. I think we should go across the state of Utah to every single campus and do some kind of a rally and get students excited about their role in the community and civic engagement.” I asked, “How are we going to do that?” and these two started working together. They got acquainted, and we immediately realized that there are three main goals of civic engagement that you want to get out to people. Number one, get involved. Whatever it is, get involved and do something because if you get involved then number two may happen and it may attract or interest you. The definitions of engagement are these things: involvement to pull you out; number two, to attract or interest you; and then number three may happen, which is a pledge or promise.
 
We hope to get the message out to students that civic engagement is getting out and getting involved. It’s finding things you’re interested in so that you may end up pledging a chunk of your time and your interest into an area.  I had no idea how seriously these two University of Utah and BYU students took my charge. First of all they planned and pulled off the most successful campaign. They made it so we arrived to the minute on every campus. This bus tour whirled across the state of Utah in one day. We came running into LDS Business College and, sure enough, President Woodhouse was right there, along with Keith Poelman and many students to rally here on this campus.
 
What I didn’t know is that these two students were really taking to heart the definition of engagement because along the tour they started to get involved and they started to get a little attracted and interested in each other. Little did I know that this University of Utah and BYU co-ed would take the definition of engagement really to heart because on August eleventh they did the third aspect of “pledge and promise.” They became engaged to be married on December thirtieth. If our office doesn’t do anymore engagement than that, I think we’ve had tremendous success.
 
I share that story with you because if you are anything as I was as a college student, you are interested in two things. You are interested in education, and in relationships and furthering your life in the engagement route that these two staffers went. At your age I really was not aware of what my potential role might be in the community. That felt like a back burner, third thing, fourth thing, fifth thing on my list. But in the last couple of years I have begun to understand more and more that our role as a citizen in taking what knowledge we have and applying it is not just important. I have become passionate about it and have become aware that it is critical. It is a spiritual charge for us as well as a civic charge.
 
Like many of you I have found great interest in our upcoming election. Regardless of where we stand politically, it is a climate charged with opportunity to look at issues. I listened to both conventions, with interest, over this last summer. A quote was mentioned by Dick Cheney in the most recent convention, and I love that he quoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he said that truly, “What we are embarking on is a rendezvous with destiny.” I thought, how interesting, because Jamie and Mysa, as they are engaged and moving to their future as the staff young people that work with me, definitely have a rendezvous with destiny. But so to do each of us in our role as citizens.
 
Doctrine and Covenants 58: 27-28 says, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”
 
It’s interesting that fewer people vote, even though there is a lot of interest in civic engagement and in what is going on today. There is a lot of decline, especially among your age. Fewer people read the newspapers and write letters to the politicians. Fewer people even invite their neighbors over for dinner then anytime in the past fifty years. That decline is steepest among the young, and while there is some evidence that new forms of civic engagement are emerging, such as internet chat rooms and infinity group-based protest, it is unclear if they will have a measurable impact on the quality of civic life.
 
Working for a political party is at a 40- year low. Targeting what people don’t know about civic education seems to be a favorite past time, particularly for David Letterman. Thirty eight percent of respondents could not name the three branches of government—executive, judicial, and legislative—but 58 percent could name the Three Stooges.
 
Recent events in the world, from September 11th to the war in Iraq, have convinced everyone that understanding our democracy is important. If teachers in other countries are developing curriculum and having professional development around what is democracy, I think strongly that those of us here better have a clearer understanding of our nation’s history and the benefits of democracy. A quote that Ezra Taft Benson shared with members of the Church in a conference said, “The most dangerous threat of all comes from the disinterested, the great group of otherwise intelligent people who shrug off any responsibility for public affairs.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 628).
 
At LDS Business College you are embarking on or are in the middle of a higher education experience. We need to be reminded of the statistic that one in one hundred people on our planet today gain a college education. As Ezra Taft Benson said, even more important than intelligent people who shrug off responsibility for public affairs, the belief that education can empower is why you’re here. That’s why you pay tuition and take your time. Empowered students become citizens that actively address community issues.
 
Campus Compact fosters the notion that higher education has a civic purpose. We’re not just fostering the belief that you should go out and serve because that’s a good thing each of you should consider for your own personal behaviors. What we foster with Campus Compact is that institutions take on a strong agenda as their civic mission and purpose. It becomes a part of the institution’s agenda to provide faculty with training and opportunities to further connect their curriculum to community issues. A multitude of faculty are willing to share ideas on how to do that so that students can be impacted by an education that will empower them to understand the issues in the community.
 
I would like to touch on the three ideas of getting involved, becoming interested, and pledging and promising.
 
Getting involved. No one says it better than President Gordon B. Hinckley when he said, “I want to say to you and I say it with a plea in my heart: get involved. Get involved on the side of righteousness, and truth, and decency, and sobriety, and virtue. You and others like you are the hope of the world.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 128-29). Getting involved means that our involvement isn’t limited to one thing; it’s a structured class with involvement on many different levels. It’s the first step of civic participation, a step that brings in people without any other commitment. It’s how leaders here at LDS Business College may invite you into service by just getting you involved. It helps open up doors you had no idea you would find interesting. In teaching in high school for over twenty years and working in the area of community involvement, I cannot tell you how many times it has turned a student’s interest to an area they had no idea they’d be interested in. A student may think he’s a business major and begins to work with children and decides education is the field he’s interested in. Or a student in engineering works with the homeless and decides that poverty issues are what he’s interested in. or social work. A college education fosters this very notion by exposing you to a variety of subject matters.
 
Community exposure is a vital piece of involvement as a citizen. I cannot implore you more to choose to get involved. It is the way you get exposed to the menu of opportunities, and may help you to move to the next step. We get involved by doing simple things as well, simple acts like picking up litter, giving blood, recycling, staying out of debt and volunteering. This first level of personal involvement is a key step of commitment. Voting is obviously a way to get involved. Many would say that it makes no difference to get out and vote. Many your age have said that because there has not been a lower turn out in past elections since the 1824 vote. There is a greater campaign then there has ever been this election. I encourage young people that not only can your vote turn the tide of the election, but furthermore, your vote empowers you. It helps you realize that you are part of the whole. Your single voice is a collective voice. 
 
To be involved empowers our representatives. In our very Constitution it says that the people—you and I—have just power and we give that to our representatives through our vote. I like the idea that it is through involvement that we find the things we are interested in. Service learning can spark interest for us. It can take us from experiences and make us want to participate more fully. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve exposed students to. One time I said, “Let’s go serve breakfast under the viaduct.” Then I found out months later that the student was so taken by that experience that she’s been there every week for eight or ten weeks. One time may spark an interest for you in something that encourages you to carry on and does it in a way that allows you to find your own passions and your own interest.
 
The last type of involvement is to pledge. Civic engagement can become a way of life, just like Jamie and Mysa are pledging in way that is going to be a way of life and for eternity for them. I believe our charge here on earth is to promise that we will clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and find solutions for community problems.
An example of one such person comes to mind. On the Utah Campus Compact board is a community advocate. We wanted someone on our board that wasn’t there by title or position, but was absolutely a champion of the community. We are fortunate to have Pamela Atkinson serve on our board.  Those of you that know Pamela Atkinson know that she exemplifies these three levels. Pamela Atkinson, from England, chose first and foremost to get involved. She went down to the homeless center and travelers aid and began helping serve food. Over time, Pamela learned people’s names and got involved and took an interest in peoples’ lives. As time has gone on, Pamela not only has an interest for, but is also an incredible advocate for so many underserved groups.
 
Just last year President Woodhouse and all the presidents from our campuses, along with student body presidents, served a sit down dinner at the homeless shelter. Pamela Atkinson was really our ambassador. That night I cannot tell you how many people came up to her that she knew by first name. She had things in her car she knew they needed from the last she saw them. She said, “Ben, next time I come I will bring that sweater that you need.” “Lucy, I know your dog’s hungry. Next time I come I’ll have some dog food for you.” I was so amazed that, time after time that evening, she kept going out to her car and had things for these people she knew they needed. You could see in their eyes that instead of feeling like society had forgotten them, they felt valued and appreciated. But far more than her involvement and interest, I was inspired by Pamela’s promise. Pamela decided that it was not enough to just give them a meal .The way we serve homeless people best is to help them stay out of poverty and to fight the problem, so Pamela took it further. If you pay state income tax or when you do, I encourage you to notice that at the very bottom of the second page you have an option to contribute to the Pamela Atkinson Homelessness Fund.
 
Last year Pamela raised millions of dollars for the homeless. Instead of giving it to the homeless in food—because our city is already providing that—Pamela helped develop a prevention program. With that money she is putting people who are right on the verge of homelessness into apartments, helping them get jobs, and keeping homelessness something they don’t step into. What an incredible example to me of a citizen who says, “I could make a difference.” She doesn’t start with the homelessness fund; she starts by being involved, by being interested, and then letting that natural path evolve. I love that Pamela exemplifies there are different kinds of citizens. All of us are not necessarily going to change policy or have our name on some new law.
 
We have the opportunity to choose what kind of citizens we want to be. I hope that we would choose to be the first kind of citizen, a personally responsible citizen. If we do nothing else but choose to be personally responsible, I believe we are really exemplifying the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28:  “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”
 
Our personal behaviors of voting, recycling, caring for our neighbor, all of those things we can do are personally responsible. I also encourage us to consider being a participatory citizen. We can be both, but to be a participatory citizen means being like these students on the student council. They have chosen to be participatory. I’m sure you have chosen the same. We choose to get on councils. We choose to be involved. I think that the prophet and many of our conference talks have helped us to know that we need to be involved, not just in the Church but in the community, in civic affairs, and in all the capacities that we can. I love that we are reminded of that often.
 
 The final way we can be involved that is to be a justice-oriented citizen. We can look at things that are not right in our society and, in small and simple ways, have an impact on helping to change those things. I think the older you get the more you realize it really is within your power. A very dear friend of mine that I went all through school with was a campaign manager when I ran for a seventh grade office. She was a really dear friend, just a year older than I. I watched her go through her life, and she currently is a Utah state senator whom some of you may know by the name of Karen Hales. She is running for lieutenant governor at this time. More important than the politics, I’m speaking to the opportunity. I’ve begun to realize that one person can make a difference as I’ve watched Karen in the role of being a representative for many of us. It’s empowering. It’s empowering to see. She has come to many settings that I have taught in. Karen spoke to groups of young students told them, “You could write a bill. It’s people just like you that I see on Capitol Hill pushing through legislation.” She is constantly reminding me and her audiences that the people on Capitol Hill making changes in our laws are people just like you and I. They may have a stronger cause—they may have a child born with a disability and they really care that there are ramps so that child can get to a particular building. Or they may have had a drunk driver take someone from their lives and they really care, so they are there at Capitol Hill. I hope it doesn’t take all those experiences to cause us to really care. It doesn’t have to touch our individual lives. Pamela Atkinson didn’t have someone homeless in her family to really care about and know those people. It is the very thing, from a spiritual level, that we are really implored to do as members of the Church.
 
In conclusion, I have to tell you it is a delight to be here at LDS Business College to put these notions of civic engagement under the umbrella and context of the gospel. I don’t always get the opportunity to do that when working with service learning and civic engagement. My own testimony is why I personally feel passionate about this work, because spiritual civic faith is part of this work. It has a life of its own. We aren’t getting support because of things individuals are doing; there is support for this kind of work because it is the right thing to do. It is our Heavenly Father who wants us to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. It isn’t the same thing for each of us. You need to find that path and find what it is that calls to you. What a great place to be finding out what that is.
 
Here at LDS Business College you are exposed to new ideas, getting a deeper understanding of concepts. To thread that into issues in real life is the richest way to leave this institution. I know our Heavenly Father expects us to have our education make a difference.
 
In closing, I want share with you why I have civic faith. This summer I was at a conference in Florida. I found it interesting that a congressmen, who now works in Washington as the executive director of the Council of Excellence in Government, shared these thoughts in a very secular setting. He said, “Civic faith is real!” He read to the audience a few things I’d like to share with you
 
He read parts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that I had never thought about in terms of my faith. We godliness was inherent in the beginnings of our country. I like to ponder the statement, “We hold these truths to be self evident.” Self evident truths are not things we attempt to prove; they are a matter of faith. If it’s self evident, it’s something we know in our heart.
 
As we continue on we read, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights….” We can’t help but think about respect for others more equity. He mentioned that day that he believed, “The work of preserving and nurturing American democracy is a calling, it is a vocation drawn from our deepest, moral convictions.” As he finished and read these last quotes from the Constitution, I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck; I felt the power that I am empowered with as a citizen of our country. He said, “We the people … in order to… establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.” Notice the language of civic religion reflected in the phrases of, “the blessings of liberty” and in “ordaining and establishing.” We did not merely establish a Constitution—we ordained it.
 
As Ezra Taft Benson said, “Let us seek to take an active part in our local, state, and national affairs. We are commanded by the Lord to do so. It is as binding on us as any of the Lords commandments. We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson {1998], 675).  I have a testimony of this as much as I have a testimony of the things that I’m here to do on this earth. I am here to make a difference in my own small arena. I am grateful for the gospel and the frame work it gives me, empowering me to put in the context of understanding that it is more than a good thing to do.
 
My faith relies on this, and that I care about it in a deep way because it is something that we’ve been created to do. We have come here to get a clearer understanding of our role and the way that we can have an impact. I’m so delighted to be with you today and I pray  very earnestly that as you are here pursuing your own path that somehow my comments, and the ones you’ll continue to hear, even in a much more meaningful way in this very room in your Wednesday devotionals, will continue to guide and help you. I have been guided and helped the most by the opportunity to be with you and to try to articulate the things I feel strongly about. I’m grateful for that, and share my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 

Go Thou and Do Likewise" the Church’s Humanitarian Service Program

22 Sep. 2004

Transcript

Go Thou and Do Likewise" the Church’s Humanitarian Service Program

 

I am grateful for the chance to be here and my heart is settled by seeing the friendly smiles on your faces, knowing that some of you in the audience are actually from our stake and I know you. This has been an intimidating thing for me, but I am grateful for the privilege to be able to speak here. I received an email the other day from a friend who went to college before I did, which had to be a long time ago. It makes a big difference between 1974 when he went to college and 2004 when you are going to college. Back then we used to talk about long hair, now we talk about longing for hair. We used to talk about acid rock, now we talk about acid reflux. We used to talk about growing pot— well, not really—but now we talk about growing a pot belly. We talked about going to a new, hip joint but now we talk about receiving a new hip joint. I was reading this email and just to make me feel really old he said, “Now the average age of those going to college is 18 or 19. They would have been born on average in 1986. These are the ones starting college. They have always had an answering machine, they don’t know what it is not to use a remote, they think that popcorn always came out of the microwave, and that Jay Leno was always on the tonight show,”… The fact that you’re not getting any of these is because there is a big generation gap here.

I’d like to comment about gratitude. We do need to be grateful for what we have. One of our traditions occurs when we go to the temple. We’re reminded of an opportunity we had to go to the temple with a neighbor of ours. She’s from Iran , and when the Bountiful temple open house was going on we took her with us to the temple. As we talked about the purpose of the temple, we mentioned that in the endowment room is where we learn about how we should live our life and about those things that are important in our journey back to live with God. As we left the endowment room on this tour we said to our friend, “The next room we will go into is what we call the Celestial Room and it is symbolic of what it would be like to return and live with God.” As we entered that room, our dear friend stood there in tears as she felt the spirit of what it would be like to return and live with God.

We have so much in common with people all around the world because of this expression of gratitude. My wife, Wendy, and I have a tradition now as we leave the Celestial Room. We pause at about that same spot and look back and think of how it impressed our friend that day and how grateful we should be for the principles of the Gospel that help us understand that we can return to live with God.

That’s not the topic of my conversation but that gratitude, that feeling of turning back when we have received something and expressing gratitude for it I think is an important part of humanitarian work.

Jesus was asked by an attorney a very provocative question. He said, “Master what should I do to inherit eternal life?” The Savior replied, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew the law very well and responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself.” The Savior said, “Thou has spoken right, do this and thou shalt live.” The lawyer then asked a question that allowed the Savior to teach us a principle that we need to know. He said, “But who is my neighbor?” The Savior then told the parable of the Good Samaritan. He talked about a traveler on his way to Jericho who fell among thieves and was beaten and left to die. Three men saw that traveler on the side of the road, two passed by without stopping. The Samaritan stopped, cared for his wounds, took him to an inn and paid for his stay there until he could recover. The third man showed compassion and saved the traveler’s life. In this parable the Savior teaches us in a powerful way that we are all sons and daughters of God, and we have an obligation to take cake of each other. In concluding the story, Jesus turned to the lawyer and said this, “Go thou and do likewise.”

Those words ring in my ears. I’d like to talk about going thou and doing likewise. I’d like to talk today about the humanitarian work of the Church. It’s something I am involved in every day. I want to share with you some of the things I see that I think may be of interest to you. The Church is working throughout the world; every year we go into about a hundred different countries trying to provide means of assistance to the poor. Our goal is to help families of all nationalities and religions overcome the challenges of poverty, disaster and inadequate health care.

Over the past few decades the Church has become known around the world for being able to respond quickly when disasters happen. According to statistics, natural disasters are on the rise. Decade by decade they seem to increase; drought, devastating storms, floods, earthquakes, pestilence, and land slides destroy millions of lives every year. The accelerating pattern of natural disasters is quite ominous when you look at it. Now, more then ever before, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is committed to relieving suffering of those who are impacted by these disasters.

Humanitarian services is first on the ground in emergency situations. The common question is, “How do you respond so quickly?” The answer is easy: our time and response is possible because we gather these items and store them before the disaster happens. We have an infrastructure in the Church Welfare System of food production facilities, warehouses, transportation, and processing facilities which allow us to be ready when a disaster strikes.
All of you are aware of the hurricanes that hit the southeast portion of the United States and the Caribbean . That trio of hurricanes in the Atlantic has allowed the Church to distinguish itself as one of the most prominent disaster response organizations in the nation.

When hurricane Charley first hit the west coast of Florida , we worked closely with the other agencies: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), Red Cross and other agencies. We pulled supplies from our Tampa , Orlando , Jacksonville and Atlanta warehouses. We also sent chain saws, plastic sheeting and other emergency supplies from Salt Lake and we used cash to purchase things that could be purchased locally. We also made a large cash donation to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

The response was reminiscent of the commitment that President Hinckley made in responding to the disaster of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 when he said, “If we are true disciples of the Lord, we must reach out. As long as this Church has any resources, those resources will be made available as they are needed to help those who are in distress anywhere in the world.”

In response to Hurricane Charley, Church members came from throughout the southeast and organized themselves into work parties. The saints in the Miami area were particularly anxious to be involved because they had been recipients of help when Hurricane Andrew came through there more than a decade before. That group of saints in Miami felt a close kinship to those who were in need, both members and friends of other faiths.

Not more than ten days later Hurricane Francis again hit Florida . While other organizations scrambled to assemble their remaining resources and frantically appealed to the public, the Church was steady and ready. Again we responded with shipments where they were needed, when they were needed.

The Church system is full of trucks. We have 30 semis and dozens of smaller trucks, and they are invaluable in this effort. Convoys of our church trucks were guided by National Guard troops to points of distribution.

Hurricane Ivan then hit in Louisiana and in the pan handle of Florida . The Church again was prepared. Warehouses had been restocked, we had supplies, and we turned to the agencies and said, “Where do you need them?” The emergency response officials marvel at both the Church’s depth of preparedness and their commitment to helping those in need. In all, over 100,000 hours of service have been donated by members of the Church to those in need, regardless of faith or nationality. Again we have responded where we have been needed.

Speaking of organizations that are less organized than ours, one of the federal officials said, “Some organizations spit in a tea cup and claim they’ve given water to those in distress. Your church does so much, for so many and seeks little recognition for what you do.”

President Hinckley established that standard in a recent priesthood talk. He said, “In extending help we have not asked whether those affected belong to the Church, for we know that each of earth’s children is a child of God, worthy of help in time of need. We have done what we have done largely with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. We seek no commendation or thank you’s. It is compensation enough that when we help out one of the least of our Father’s children, we have done it unto Him and His beloved Son.”

I have spoken about the assistance in Louisiana and Florida , but what about those who are in the islands of the Caribbean ? To make a long story short, plane loads of emergency supplies have been sent in to Grenada , into Jamaica , into the Grand Cayman Islands , into the Bahamas , and we are working on one for Haiti right now. Additional supplies have been purchased from nearby islands and shipped in by containers.

Not all of the Church resources are dedicated to emergency response. We have four other areas of focus that I’m going to touch on briefly today. In doing so I’m going to tie them into principles that are important to you as you are here at LDS Business College .

Isaiah prophesied of the last days and he said this, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened.” Of all the miracles that the Savior performed (short of raising people from the dead) restoring sight to the blind had to be one of the most miraculous. The World Health Organization acknowledges that 45 million people are blind. Twenty million of them could have their sight restored through a simple surgery. We are committed to follow the example of the Savior and help people receive sight. Working with established medical facilities in developing countries, Humanitarian Services donates equipment and supplies, and organizes training seminars led by professional ophthalmologists who are willing to give of their time to conduct training seminars. Ultimately those that are trained will be able to serve thousands of patients over time, and train other medical professionals so that blindness will be reduced throughout the world.
Mariana lives in Moldova . When she was a young mother with two small daughters, she lost her eye sight. Her husband left her and the state took away her two children because she was no longer able to properly care for them. With the vision treatment program of the Church, Mariana received surgery which she could not afford on her own. In her country that surgery would have cost 30 dollars. Because of the surgery, she received her sight back.

At an appreciation luncheon where others showed appreciation to the Church for what they received, her eyes filled with tears and she couldn’t speak. Later that day I had the opportunity to interface with her as we went on a tour of another facility. I saw her with her young daughter as she walked around a barn yard. They played together with a puppy, they looked at the flowers together, and my eyes filled with tears knowing the difference that had made in her life. The Savior spoke to His disciples about the need for them to see with spiritual eyes and that applies to us today.

In the musical “Fiddler on The Roof,” Tevye, the father, gathers his lovely daughters around him and in the simplicity of his peasant surroundings counsels them as they prepare for their future. He says, “Remember in Anatevka each one of you knows who she is and what God expects her to become.” Do we have a vision enough to see what God expects us to become? My belief is that you were not created to be mediocre. In fact, Heavenly Father preserved you to come in these last days because He knew of your potential greatness.

First learn to be optimistic, recognize the opportunities that Heavenly Father places in your path. My son, Mark, is returning from his mission in eight days. He has always been optimistic about life. As a youngster, he woke up one morning and said, “I wonder what good is going to happen today.” I hope that’s how we look at life. Learn to see with an eye of faith and understand that when a door shuts, a window opens. Don’t be so much focused on the ground in front of you that you don’t recognize the angels who are round about you to bear you up.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you have an obligation to prepare for the future. I extend that thought to those not of our faith as well. This is an important time in the history of the world. You have an obligation to prepare for the future and to seek to become self reliant. Obviously education is important to you or you wouldn’t be here. It is a large part about preparation.

In the “Strength of Youth” Pamphlet we read, “The Lord wants you to educate your mind and improve your skills and abilities. Education will help you be an influence for good in the world. It will help you better provide for yourself and your loved ones and those in need. Be willing to work diligently and make sacrifices to obtain learning. Education is an investment that brings great rewards.”

I’ve never said to myself, I wish I hadn’t gone to so many years of school, I wish I would have stopped after my first degree. Whenever there has been an opportunity and I have been in a position to find new employment and be considered for a new job, I’ve always been grateful that I received as much education as I could.

We were married and had two children when I entered the masters program at Berkley . It was no small sacrifice on the part of my wife and I recognize the great contribution she made in my education. I’m grateful she received her degree as well and has a bachelor’s degree in education.

Addison Groff said this, “Disturb us, oh Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dream too little, when we have arrived in safety because we sailed too closely to the shore.” Our risk is not in aiming too high and missing; the greatest risk that we face is in aiming too low and reaching it.

The second program that the Church does is to follow the mandate of the Savior when He asked the Nephites, “Have ye any that are lame among you? Bring them hither and I will heal you.” The Church is involved in a worldwide effort to eradicate immobility. Studies show that there are about 100,000,000 disabled people in the world who don’t have access to a wheel chair. Those individuals are physically dependent on family members and there is not much support structure for the disabled in the developing world. In response to this great need the Church has distributed over the last two and a half years almost a 100,000 wheel chairs. That’s about 350 container loads of wheel chairs.

Bridgett lives in Zambia by Victoria Falls , one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. She was born without legs. Her address is BH3 which refers to bore hole number three. You go down the dirt road to the third bore hole which is a water pump and that’s where her mud hut is. She was born without legs, but even as a young girl she had a very cheery disposition, a smile from ear to ear. She was able to get around by using her arms as crutches, swinging her body like a pendulum to go forward. She was able to go to school, was loved by the other children, and she had a bright mind.

Following graduation, Bridgett was not able to get a job. No one would hire someone that spent all of her time looking up at the world. When she heard of the wheel chair distribution, she knew her prayers had been answered. I was there when Bridgett arrived in the back of a pick-up truck. I helped lift her from the back of that truck. I felt guilty setting her down on the ground in the dirt. I asked her if we couldn’t put her in a wheel chair. She said, “No, I want to wait to be placed in the one that will be mine.”

That day was a great day in Bridgett’s life. That day she gained a dignity she had not had before. She now has a job, is able to provide for her family, and feels that she is no longer a burden on her family. The concept of becoming self reliant is what happened in Bridgett’s life. She was able to go from being dependent to being self reliant. We all have an obligation to become self reliant.

As disciples of Christ we should honor our covenants to consecrate ourselves our time, talents and resources to build up the kingdom of God and to care for those in need. We need to strive to give and serve as Christ did. If we do so we will be abundantly blessed. Heavenly Father will help all of our efforts as we seek to care for the poor and the needy.

There are many ways to care for the poor and the needy. I want to talk specifically today about fasting and paying a fast offering, something you think is only an obligation of your parents when the deacon comes around with the little blue envelope. The principle is that fasting will bless each of us spiritually; it is something that draws upon the powers of heaven. Isaiah taught about the blessings that come from fasting when he said, “Those who fast, thou shalt call and the Lord shall answer, Thou shalt cry and He shall say here I am and the Lord will guide thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought and make fat thy bones and thou shalt be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.”

Which one of you doesn’t want to be able to call and have Heavenly Father answer, “Here I am.” Every one of us has opportunity to do that as we fast. The principle of the fast offering is simply taking the money that was saved from those two meals that were missed and donate it to care for the poor and the needy. That gives the resource to bishops around the world to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked and to take care of the needs of the widows and the orphans. What a great covenant that is, an opportunity that we have. There are many other ways; we can’t talk about all of them but I believe with all my heart that we will be guided by the Spirit as we seek to serve and find ways to best meet the needs of others.

The Lord taught this, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” I’m reminded of a hymn that says, “I will be my brother’s keeper, I would learn the healer’s art, To the wounded and the weary, I would show a gentle heart. Savior may I love my brother, As I know thou lovest me. Find in Thee my strength, my beacon, For thy servant I would be. Savior may I love my brother; Lord I would follow Thee.”

The third program that the Church is involved in is actually helping to raise people from the dead. I say that with all sacredness. There are 900,000 babies a year that die because of breathing difficulties at birth. In the developing world, the equipment and the training is not available often times for them to be able to resuscitate those babies and bring them back to life. We are involved with sending teams of doctors throughout the world. We’ll be in 46 locations in 23 different countries. It’s a train-the-trainer approach where we are teaching others to train people how to resuscitate babies born not breathing.

Ironically I was recently asked why the Church would have a program to save the lives of babies only to have them suffer through a life of poverty. I was initially offended by that question. While I don’t have a definitive answer, I have formed a very firm opinion. As we think of the plan of salvation, we know that one of the key ingredients was for us to come here and gain a body. We also know that key to the plan of salvation was that we would have the opportunity to come here to grow and develop, to suffer and to have success, and to learn so that we could return to live with our Heavenly Father. I believe with all my heart that Heavenly Father has provided a way for those who die without that opportunity that they will, in fairness, be able to return and live with Him. I also believe that if we could save a poor child and allow him the opportunity to gain the experience that Heavenly Father prepared for him, he will be better off.

I saw a young girl in a squatter camp in Phnom Penh . Her house was smaller than our family tent. She was playing hop scotch with her friends in the dirt road. The pattern for the hop scotch had to be etched with a stone which later became the taw, but she was happy and I thought what if she didn’t have the chance to live. In her future are opportunities to learn, opportunities to serve, opportunities to be a wife and a mother. Those are the opportunities that Heavenly Father wants us to have.

I pray that as we think about that program of the Church, we recognize that life is precious and that we have an opportunity to make the most of the life we have been given. We should respect all men and woman everywhere as sons and daughters of God.

The last program we are involved is that of providing drinking water. Believe it or not, one-sixth of the world’s population or just over a billion people do not have access to clean water. Our program goes out into the villages, identifies communities that need water, then organizes so that the water will be sustainable year in and year out. We provide the resources necessary to provide water. This year alone we will provide water to over 500,000 people. I’ve seen the benefit that comes in those wells. The women typically are the ones who spend hours a day going to the closest water source and bringing it back. If it could be within a hundred yards of their home, how much better off they will be. They will be able to cook better meals for their families and perhaps they will be able to tell stories to their children and help educate them.

I want to talk about another well; this well was just outside the city of Sychar . A woman came to draw water out of that well; this was part of her daily routine. She was grateful that that life-sustaining water had been provided by her forefathers. That day however she would receive more than water. There was a man sitting near the well as she drew her water. He spoke to her, asking for a drink and she was surprised by his request. But then he said that if she would give him a drink, he would give her a drink of living water. As he spoke, her interest was piqued; she felt a desire to learn more. Jesus explained, “Whosoever drink of this water which I shall give them shall never thirst again.” Her reply was much like yours, “Sir or master give me of that water.” We can receive of His living water everyday of our lives. In fact, I would say the receiving of His living water is more important than drinking water.

You think how urgently we depend on water. Go two days without drinking water, I challenge you. We don’t think much about going two days without reading our scriptures or saying our prayers. We don’t think much about going without serving others. I believe that a source of living waters is obedience of the commandments from which I think we receive great protection and peace. The Atonement of Christ is given to all of us, to help us overcome our sins but also to help us overcome the natural man. Thus, becoming meek, humble, submissive, patient, full of love, and daily repentance allows the Spirit to be our constant companion. I can hear the voice of the Savior calling, “Come unto me and drink of my well.”

In accomplishing this work, the Church has met many fine people around the world, people who respect God’s children and want to serve them. For example, we have worked with Sister Margaret who runs a facility in Zimbabwe . She refers to herself as the Mormon nun. She is running a program to help family members treat those who are dying of AIDs. As an outreach into the community, she has over 400 volunteers who go into the community and help those in need. The worse cases she brings in and nurses them, teaching the family how to take care of them.

We’ve also provided containers of clothing, blankets and other items to Father Georgie in Russia . He’s a Russian Orthodox priest involved in helping orphans and prisoners in his area. Doctor Bill Fryda runs a hospital in Nairobi , Kenya . He’s been there 25 years. Saint Mary’s Mission Hospital is probably one of the finest hospitals in Nairobi ; it’s set up primarily to provide assistance to the poor. He is a great friend to the Church. Recently Doctor Fryda hosted our neonatal resuscitation training and our vision treatment training teams as they went into Kenya . We have worked with over 1500 organizations like that and developed friendships with the Church all over the world over the last 20 years.

President Hinckley recently committed, “We will go on in this work. There will always be need. Hunger and want and catastrophe will ever be with us.” Then he said a remarkable thing which I believe. He said, “The spirit of the Lord guides this work, this work is but an outward expression of an inward spirit. The spirit of the Lord of whom it was said, he went about doing good.”

I honor you today. You are doing what you ought to be doing, making the sacrifices you ought to be making. Your goodness radiates in your countenances; your friendship for each other is very wholesome. I hope that you will remember the words of the Savior when he said “Go thou and do likewise.” Open your eyes to see who you are and what you can become. Be feet to the lame by capitalizing on opportunities to serve including fasting and paying a fast offering and donating to the humanitarian aid fund. Cherish life and the opportunities to become more like our Heavenly Father and come unto Christ and drink of his living waters.

I pray that the Lord’s blessings will be with you as you pursue the amazing opportunities you have in your life. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, He is our exemplar. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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A Responsibility to the Future, to Others, and to Yourself

29 Sep. 2004

Transcript

A Responsibility to the Future, to Others, and to Yourself

 

What a pleasure it is for me to be here today and spend a few moments talking to you about issues I feel are important.
It has been a remarkable experience being governor of the state of Utah. I’m very honored to serve as governor. I had the opportunity just last year of stepping in when Governor Leavitt left. Probably the transition was easier than any other change of government because for ten and half years we’ve worked very closely together. Some said, “Well, you were all of a sudden asked to prepare the budget for the last legislative session.” If the truth be known, for the preceding four or five years, I’ve done all the budget hearings because there wasn’t any money available during the economic turndown. And so Governor Leavitt just said, “Olene, why don’t you do all the budget hearings.” In many areas it was easy to step in being governor.
 
I had to make a decision at that time of whether I was going to be a caretaker governor and just get by with a minimum of effort, or whether I had an obligation as the first female governor of the state of Utah to put forth some initiatives that could be accomplished, or at least put in place in the 14 months I knew I would be governor. It became very obvious that for the future of Utah I needed to step in and make a difference. So I began the process of putting forth initiatives.
 
I think that you are in a process of making determinations of what you want to be in the future. Do you want to get through life just as a caretaker, doing the minimum but getting by, or do you want to step up and look at issues, look at problems, look at people you could help and then put forth the effort to make it happen. You know, often it is easy to slide by and do the minimum of effort. Certainly in your classes you’re taking opportunities, but in life it is very true that you can meet situations where people are in great need and you can say let someone else help them, I have other things to do, or you can get in and solve problems. We live in a democracy
            Probably some of you have heard me tell this before, but it is such a good example. I often visit schools. I happened to be in an elementary school and because I was then lieutenant governor and I was over elections, I was talking about elections and democracy. I asked, “What does democracy mean?” One young boy just blurted out, “It means the people rule so everybody’s got to do something.”
I don’t know that there’s a better definition in any textbook than that.  I happened to major in political science, and then at Stanford got a masters in political theory, and I’ve never heard a better definition than that. And I think that it talks about life in general.            We live in a democracy and as I’ve traveled the world, I know of no other country that has the opportunity of becoming whatever you want to be than we have here in his country. But it’s based on the fact that every single one of you has a basic responsibility to your neighborhood…well, let’s start with your family. Make that family a better operating family because you’re a member of it. It starts with your neighborhood: no matter where you live you have the obligation to make your neighborhood a little better because you are part of that neighborhood. Then extend it to cities, towns, counties, states, and country. And certainly, if everyone met that obligation, all neighborhoods would be more desirable to live in, all cities and towns would have better government, as well as state and national.
That basic obligation is what makes government great. We in Utah are very fortunate because we have a higher percentage of people volunteering than any other state. I don’t know if there’s anyone here from Tennessee. It’s called the “Volunteer State,” but I think they nabbed that term before Utah could get it, because in every survey we lead the nation in number of people volunteering. In one survey it was as high as 80% but I think that was a little warped because you could count church service—if you taught a class or had any responsibility—no wonder we got 80%. But in another survey, that was not included, and we still ranked high with 43% of people volunteering every month.
That’s what makes Utah great. That’s what made our Olympics great. You can talk all you want about the great venues, and they are great. You can talk about the great security we had and that was great. They organized and had better security. But the thing the press internationally noted was volunteerism: people were willing to step up and make a difference. But that wasn’t all that was unique. I happened to meet the Queen of Sweden, and she said, “At first I thought you had done a remarkable job of training your volunteers, but then I went shopping and no one knew who I was, and the people were still kind, caring and willing to help.”
 
 I thought, “Yes, Yes!” I worked in the convention tourism efforts for a long time and that’s a remarkable thing we always hear, that people are friendly, willing to help. And the very nature of making our state great is one of its greatest attributes.
 
It was driven home again to me when the Chinese delegation came when I was still lieutenant governor and working on the Chinese Olympics, which is still in the future. The governor wasn’t there and so I had the privilege of meeting with them.
 
The first question they said was, “Tell us about volunteers. Did you order it?”
 
I proceeded to tell them about volunteers in our country, of how we have volunteers to help cure diseases, like heart and lung disease and diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and how we have volunteers in our school helping students read. We have volunteers that clean up neighborhoods, and that work in a lot of service organizations.  He said, “I think it would be easier to order it.”
 
You know, that’s really what makes our country great. The people are willing to care about each other. And I’m hoping not only because we live in a democracy and you have that obligation.  I hope that in your lives you are recognizing, along with successes you might have, that service to others will probably bring you greater pleasure and greater rewards than either power or money. I’ve often told people who come to visit me with problems that seem overwhelming, the best thing I can recommend is go find someone worse off than you are and offer to help them.
 
I think that in your lives, if you are looking at career priorities, to really be successful you have to remember this basic thing: that service to others will bring far greater happiness than either power or money. I think there are some other things that are important.
 
I think, as you are choosing careers or patterns, of the old adage that Robert Frost put so well that two roads diverged in the yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference. It isn’t that you always want to avoid the roads traveled, but you always want to be on a road where you’re comfortable with your decision, and what you might call integrity.
 
Living in the world of politics, I find the one thing that still makes the difference between a politician and a statesman is integrity. What is integrity? It has many definitions, many words, many connotations. It is that you are what you say you are and that your word can be trusted. I don’t know of any better definition than that. You don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You don’t pretend to produce something you didn’t. You don’t write resumes that are not exactly true. You don’t make statements that you have to remember the next day and the next day after that and the day after that because you tell a different story every day. It is living a life that you can have exposed to the front page headlines and feel comfortable about. It’s being true to those around you. It is being true to your beliefs. It is being true to your values, and that isn’t always easy to do.
 
In my life I can look back at the times I’ve remained silent when I should have spoken. There are times when I’ve seen situations that I should have righted, but it was easier to let go. The times I like to remember are when I’ve seen wrongs and I’ve been willing to step up and do something about them. It is when I have spoken up about a situation that I worked out that I should have spoken about it. It is times when I’ve befriended those that are least “befriendable.” Does that make sense? Sometimes you have individuals who need help who you need to reach out to, that you can make a difference in their lives. Sometimes those situations are easy to ignore. But if you look back on your life, the ones you will remember are when you took the time to help someone less fortunate than you.
 
Everyone fortunately is different, and everyone sees a different road, a different path, a different way to serve. Most all of them are valid. But I find more and more the countries around the world that are succeeding and evolving and are at the forefront of having strong economies are those that develop a strong middle class, and there is hope for those below the poverty level to always move upward. When I visit countries (and I’ve had the good fortune of visiting many) that have the few rich and powerful and many, many in poverty and very little middle class, there’s a heaviness of heart because I recognize that’s the wrong direction to go. We as a society have to expand our views beyond Salt Lake City, beyond Utah, beyond the United States, and care about what’s happening in Haiti, what’s happening Africa countries, what’s happening in Indonesia, what’s happening around the world, and not only in the military or political sense.
 
I think something that is great about our Church that many of you believe in and I, is not just spiritual, it’s humanitarian. I think as long as we keep that humanitarian aspect and reach out and are willing to serve, to share what we have with others, we will remain strong. But once we become content to say, let others get by on their own, then we will lose that greatness. That doesn’t start with leaders at the top. It doesn’t start with the governor, it starts with individuals like you sitting here, making determinations to travel, perhaps, that less-traveled road to get where you want to go, with an awareness that you have the obligation along that road to always be serving others.
 
I did visit Haiti and it made a lasting impression on me. I happened to head up a team, I believe in ’96, to go down and be an oversight committee along with two congressional people and one reporter from both The New Times and The New York Post. We arrived there to observe their elections. Immediately we knew there were problems. We had been asked to meet with all the ones running for president, and six of the eight called and said they could not be there because they had been threatened with their lives if they attended. We visited 104 polling places and we saw less than 4% of the people voting. I asked why and they said “It doesn’t do any good. All government is corrupt.”
 
I went into a building that I would have guessed was a deserted building. I can’t really describe it because you won’t believe me. There were steps missing. There were huge holes in the roof and floor, and not one window. And I said, “Why would you hold polling places in such a building? A deserted building?”
The Haitian that was with me said, “This isn’t deserted; it’s our school. And I said, “What parent would send a child here?” He said, “Listen, 65 percent of the parents in Haiti would give anything if they could afford to pay the seven dollars a month it takes to send a child here. And because they can’t afford it, that’s why we have 65 percent illiteracy.”
 
Now I wish I could have had my children, my grandchildren, and all of you in that situation, because I learned a great lesson. We have advantages, you have advantages which put a greater obligation on you. I guess it’s the old adage that where much is given, much is expected. It gave me a great sense of obligation to make certain government works for the benefit of people. Unless you, as you’re young, are willing to step up and assume roles within the leadership not only of the church, but leadership in your counties, in your cities, on library boards, on mosquito abatement boards, whether you’re willing to step up and run for office, run for legislature, city councils, school boards, if we are not willing to step up and do those things, then we cannot make democracy work. And elections become a farce, as they were in Haiti.
 
As we’ve looked at what’s happening now, it’s with heavy heart that I determine things have gotten worse, not better. But if we don’t step up and assume those obligations to do the best we can to provide public service in those realms, democracy won’t succeed. Too often we assume that it’s someone else’s responsibility and obligation: ”Let someone else do it.”
 
In Utah, years ago, people 18 to 21 felt they were deprived because they didn’t have the vote. The vote was given, and guess what? Below 20 percent in Utah of the 18 to 25 years old vote. Less than 20 percent. Now I don’t claim that as a criteria of being negative, but it’s an indication that maybe we’re not doing sufficiently—those that are a little older—of giving to you who are in that age group the important obligations of democracy.
 
Now, voting is the easiest thing you can do. Getting involved in campaigns, making sure you have the right candidate, being willing to serve on committees, and actually running for offices, that’s more difficult. But the future is going to be yours and whether that democracy continues to thrive, whether we in Utah continue to get awards for being the best governed state, whether we’re fiscally sound, and whether we have the right principles and values in our legislation and the laws we live by will soon be your obligation and responsibility. You will have that obligation in the relatively near future and so I hope that each one of you will take very seriously your obligation to serve, to commit to principles that will make our state and our country strong.
 
A final thing I think is very important as you make decisions is try to find work in an occupation you enjoy. I love going to work every day. I know the whole world can’t have this opportunity. All my children are married now, and some of them love their work, some of them tolerate, and for some of them, going to work every day is a chore.
 
I hope each one of you can find some career or, if not, some avocation that you can get excited about every day, because that’s really what makes life worthwhile. You are probably searching for where you are going as you go through your education. I hope each one of you can find joy in service. Now it isn’t always being top CEO or the getting on an NBA team that brings that joy. One of the happiest individuals I’ve ever known was a postman who felt he was doing a service, as he was, in bringing mail to everyone with a smile. So find something you really enjoy, and if that isn’t possible, then find something in your off times that you really enjoy. I’m reminded of an ad—I believe it was a BMW ad—that showed a car going by and it said, “If life is a journey, make sure you enjoy the ride.” I think that’s very applicable.
 
I’m probably nearing the end of my career. However, I have to let you know I’ve had four or five really good job offers. I think, “What are they thinking, offering a 73-year-old woman a job?” But the truth of the matter is, I enjoy going to work every day.
 
If you can love your work, if you can feel reward from your work, life is far better. But if you don’t find it in work, find it in service, find it in other things, because life can either be very burdensome, a trial where you get up every day hating to do what you have to do that day, or you can get up thinking, “Today’s another exciting event and I will have opportunities to help people along the way and have some exciting times.
 
In a way I envy all of you starting out perhaps in new careers or adding to your capabilities by going to school and bettering your education. I think all of you have been very wise in choosing to do that. I hope you have a rich and rewarding career ahead of you. I hope that all of you can look back and reflect that the trip has been an enjoyable ride. I’m not ready to say that of my life yet, because I feel I’ve got thirty more good years ahead.
 
I think there’s certain value in always looking ahead and not back. As I finish being governor, I look ahead to many opportunities I have to spend more time working on projects I enjoy. I hope I always have the ability to find something exciting, waiting to be done, some effort that needs to be expanded, some work for the future. I spent a good hour and a half this morning working on something that probably most of you would think is very boring. It’s looking on the future of developing transmission lines for electricity and energy, not only in the state of Utah. We belong to partnerships with states around us. As I sat there, I thought, none of this is going to happen while I’m governor. But the prospect in 10 or 20 years is that they’ll look back and say, “Aren’t we glad that we did something about it,” or “They did something about it at that time.” The whole idea started with one individual emailing the governor of Wyoming with an idea to share future development of transmission lines. The governor of Wyoming got excited about it, got Governor Leavitt excited about it, other states have joined, and good things will happen in the future of the whole region because one person was willing to share a good idea. So don’t sit back when you have good ideas. Share them. Make things happen. Make the road easier for those that follow.
 
I have certainly enjoyed being with you. I enjoy the fact that so many of you will go out and do remarkable things in your lives. I hope you always have a responsibility to the future, to others, and to yourself. We are those that have been very blessed. We have a real obligation to ensure those blessings continue, if not increase. We have a responsibility to make certain others have the opportunities that we have. Thank you for allowing me to be here today.

Attitude, Patience, and Soul

13 Oct. 2004

Transcript

Attitude, Patience, and Soul

 
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. My experience at the university and at the institute of religion have been a very worthwhile experience in my life. It is something I enjoyed immensely and the new calling is a great blessing. In fact, as honored as I am to be with you here today, I recognize quite clearly that the opportunity derives from my current ecclesiastical assignment rather than any personal achievement that I have made. Nevertheless, my years in the professional and business world have taught me something of the challenges that you will face in the years ahead and they hopefully will be helpful to you as we talk about a few things this morning.
 
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that the Savior is involved in the details of our lives, that this cosmic Christ, creator of worlds without number, knows you personally, better than you know yourself. He, in addition to creating and organizing galaxies, is involved in the details of your individual lives. God truly and personally loves you. He has planned for your happiness for a very long time.
 
Looking back on my own life I see so clearly this magnificent truth is true. Yet looking forward, one must have faith that this is so. It’s a hard thing to do when you are in the throes of life-altering decisions. However, my guess is even now as you look back on your young lives, you will see that the Lord has, indeed, led you along just as He promised to in the 78th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 18.
 
When I graduated from law school, I had every intention of practicing law. It was as a lawyer that I became acquainted with the bottled water industry. I was representing an individual who owned a real estate company and wanted to purchase property in the Mount Olympus Cove area owned by one E. O. Forbert, deceased. The bottled water company was also owned by the same individual and was tied to the property in probate. Once we successfully acquired the company and the property, I agreed to manage the bottled water company during the transition period. But as way leads on to way, I have never left the business world and in fact have spent my entire career in the bottled water industry. I practiced law for about thirteen years but finally gave it up in total and concentrated on the bottled water industry.
 
Let me describe briefly for you what the bottled water industry looked like in the mid-1960s. The only local packaged water on the grocery shelves in Utah was distilled water in one-gallon, rewashed, glass soda pop syrup bottles. We don’t even see them around anymore. They carried a five-cent deposit. They were washed and refilled with distilled water. They were sold in the detergent aisle because the water was only used for batteries and steam irons; only people with low sodium diets drank distilled water. The only single-serve packages occasionally found in stores were Evian, a European mineral water, and Perrier, a European sparkling mineral water that even as late as the mid-1980’s sold only 13,000 cases in Utah and was distributed by the Pepsi Cola company.
 
Mount Olympus became the distributor for Perrier in 1983 and in three years the case volume increased to 123,000. Just to give you some sense that that isn’t still a whole lot, our current volume is about three million cases of all products. The core of the bottled water industry back in those early years was in the home and office delivery business. In Utah, that represented 98 percent of what Mount Olympus Waters did. Still, the company grossed to only $69,000 in 1963. We better do that every day now or we are in real trouble.
 
So it was that in 1963 no one but no one was really interested in or cared about the bottled water business. In 1964, as was indicated in the introduction, six months after the acquisition of Mount Olympus Waters, we became involved in the high-quality water treatment business. This was water that was used by doctors, laboratories, hospitals and particularly the semi-conductor business. In fact, it was the semi-conductor business that made the pure water business because their rigorous specifications classified distilled water at ten parts per million of mineral content as contaminated. They needed water that was a half a part per billion of dissolved solids in the water.
 
Companies like Litton, Segnetics, and Advanced Micro Devices used huge quantities of this water in building integrated circuitry. One drop of mineral impurity would destroy hundreds of circuits and the micro chip would be destroyed. Also, power companies such as Utah Power and Light required a large volume of high quality water to drive steam turbines to generate electricity. The turbine was red hot and if they drove steam that was contaminated with mineral content, it would condense on the blade and ultimately make the blade wobble and destroy the machinery. Those were highly expensive pieces of equipment, so water was an integral and important part of that industry. These two industries—bottled water and high quality water treatment—were really on the verge of some significant expansion and their combined growth in the next 20 years averaged 24% per year.
 
Looking at the industry today demonstrates a truly remarkable change. Bottled water has come from obscurity to the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry with double-digit growth for over a decade. Whereas through the early 80s there was only one bottled water company in Salt Lake City, today there are eight local companies and three of the world’s largest corporations are in the industry. Nestle, Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola all are major players in the industry.
 
In the early 1960s, as I’ve indicated, three feet of one shelf was allocated to water. Now most stores dedicate somewhere between 18 to 24 lineal feet, with all five shelves totally devoted to bottled water. In addition, there are all types of promotions: end caps and pallet case sales in the front of the stores as well as cold box, dispensers at check out stands and outside the store. The industry has truly revolutionized itself in the past several years.
 
It is interesting that all that growth and development is the good news part. The bad news part is that the margins in small package business have eroded to virtually nothing. Consequently bottled water small packaged can be purchased on the shelf for about what it costs to produce it.
 
This is probably a great deal more about the bottled water business than you care to know. The reason for this background information is because I wanted to give you some idea of the rapidity of change that has happened in just one segment of the beverage industry with something as mundane as bottled water. Recognizing this significant degree of change gives you some idea of the flexibility and ability to adapt that will be an important factor in your professional careers, no matter what field of endeavor you pursue.
 
Frankly, as the world pursues the electronic age, the volatility of change will dramatically increase. With the computing power of the micro chip doubling every 18 months, the average secretary’s desk top computer has more computing power than the computer used in the Manhattan project that created the first atomic bomb. The pace of change in the cyber space world that you will inherit shows that the changes of the past will appear to have been in slow motion.
 
Those in the front of this technological revolution see it as the salvation of all societal ills. Dinesh D’Souza, author of “The Virtue of Prosperity” and “What’s Right with America,” suggests that the new leaders of society are the businessmen and scientists because they are the only ones who can deliver on their promises to eliminate scarcity, to feed and clothe and heal the entire world.
 
The point is that there is hidden potential in each person and the new techno capitalism offers each of us a chance to access it. On the web, entrepreneurs can set up a web site and compete with giant corporations. Can they succeed? Perhaps.
 
Who was it that exposed Dan Rather and CBS and their shameless, shoddy journalism that published forged documents regarding President Bush’s military service? His peer group of television anchors, the FCC? No, bloggers. Individuals on the web uncovered and published their findings which resulted in an apology from CBS.
 
There is indeed a price to be paid for these newfound freedoms unlocked by techno capitalism. Some detractors suggest that because a few have become rich in the silicone explosion there is a tendency to think that everyone is better off. Again, D’Souza further suggests that critics on the left and right see many of these techno companies as a Pandora’s Box, rather than a panacea for humanity struggles and societal ills.
 
The left wing criticism is in the name of nature and equality while the right wing critique is in the name of morality. Perhaps one of the most significant developments of our time is that these critiques are becoming one in nature, community and decency. They will, indeed, become the rallying cry of the new political movement in the secular world. Unfortunately, it is really too early to determine whether they will be heard. It is interesting to observe that the left and the right are not on a continuum. They’re really a circular, and the extremes of both are really closer to each other than farther apart. So as D’Souza suggests, this is exactly what will take place in the new cyber space of the future. These critics, although they come from the left and the right, will combine their forces and create one human cry.
 
Gertrude Hemufarbe, an economic historian, accurately describes our current social dilemma. Quote: “We are living in a toxic culture. The sheer volume of incivility, vulgarity and immorality overwhelms. There is so much materialism, narcissism, and hedonism. We send you and our children out in this world with fear and trepidation in our hearts.” Environmentalists tell us that earth is an ecosystem and that its natural balance must be preserved if the ecosystem is to flourish. Cultures are ecosystems too, and ours is morally out of balance.
 
Aristotle was right, “It is not easy to be a good citizen in a bad society.” What good are the successes of the techno capitalists when our lives are diminished in unimportant ways?   
 
Given the state of affairs I applaud your decision to further your education, your accomplishment, your talents, your dedication and discipline to academic excellence. I salute you not only for what you are and what you have accomplished but the great promise that you possess for what you can become, for what you can contribute.
 
Take seriously this chance to learn, to prepare yourselves academically for future opportunity and responsibility. I hope that your educational experience here at the business college has helped to make you quality people. The “What’s in it for me” attitude that is so pervasive in society I am sure has contaminated or at least begun to infect some small portion of this campus as well.
 
The conclusion of your educational experience is accurately denoted as a commencement, a beginning, a point of departure. You undoubtedly understand that you get paid, get a grade and get credit for what you finish, not for what you start. So it is in the real world. As you prepare to leave the classroom and descend to the world of products, people and services, understand that knowledge is power, that there is no substitute for hard work, and that finishing is required.
 
With all this as prologue, let me suggest three things for your consideration as you look forward to concluding your education and assuming your place in the commercial world outside these hallowed walls.
 
First, maintain a proper attitude, a correct perspective toward life and professional experience. Doctor Murray Banks, a noted New York psychiatrist, suggests that in life it is not so much a matter of what happens to you that counts, over what you really have little or no control. It is how you respond or react. It’s the adjustments you make to what happens to you that makes you who you are.  For example, the stock market crash of ‘29 absolutely destroyed Robert Young, chairmen of the New York central railway. His solution to his financial demise was to jump from his office window. Eddie Cantar, a comedian, likewise lost everything in the crash. However, he wrote a book called “Caught Short” and recouped more than his loss.
 
My friends, the world is filled with examples of people who have suffered incredible loss and devastating trauma. But because of an appropriate attitude and the correct perspective, they have turned their disaster, their handicap, into a benefit. The blind Tom Sullivan sang the title song, “The Wind beneath My Wings” from the movie, “Beaches” at a recent convention. He expressed that the wind beneath his wings was his blindness which propelled him to a career as a performer, author, and a nationally recognized motivational speaker.
 
Christopher Reeves became a man of steel not because he played Superman, but because of his appropriate attitude and great ability to cope with a devastating disability.
 
Helen Keller, a woman deaf and blind from age one, said, “I thank my God for my blindness. Through it I found my life and my work and my God.”
 
My friends, maintain an appropriate attitude, keep a correct perspective, and above all, believe in yourselves. Trust yourselves, particularly in those areas where you have demonstrated ability. Surely it is not so much a matter of what happens to you; it’s the adjustments you make that make you who you are.
 
Second, patience. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. I have someone working with me who, at the age of 55, makes a significant salary. Yet it is far below what he was earning 30 years ago when he owned his own ad agency. The agency was regarded as one of the top five in Salt Lake City. It has satellite offices in Seattle and Phoenix. However, the fast track he was on cost him two marriages, a stint in alcohol rehabilitation, and his career. Go slow, build well. Find appropriate balance in your life. I submit that by attending the LDS Business College, you are finding that balance. The fact that you are combining the sacred with the secular indicates you understand that it profits a man little to gain the whole world but loose his own soul. Recognize and allow the Savior to be involved in the details of your life. Take appropriate risks that can reasonably be recovered without sinking the ship.
 
There was a time in the management of Mount Olympus Waters when a $5,000 to $10,000 error would surely have sunk the ship. The Perrier recall in 1986 for benzene caused us to absorb nearly a million dollar hit, not without significant pain as you can all imagine, but it was not the Titanic.
 
Third, not a mind without a soul. In the book, “The Chosen,” by Chaim Potok, Reb Saunders, the Hasidic Rabbi, speaks of his young son, Daniel: “A man is born in this world with only a tiny spark of goodness in him. The spark is God, his soul, the rest is simply a shell. Anything can be a shell, anything. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark. I was blessed with a brilliant son, not a smart son, a brilliant son, a boy with a mind like a jewel, like a pearl, like the sun.”
 
Reb Saunders understood the power of his son’s mind when, as a four year old, Daniel devoured a book. He swallowed it as one swallows food and water, and then repeated it back, verbatim. The story was about a poor struggling Jew who suffered greatly: “Oh, how the man suffered, and my Daniel he enjoyed it, enjoyed every last terrible page. There was no soul in my four-year-old son. Master of the universe, what have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son, a heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to carry pain. That I want from my son, not a mind without a soul.”
 
My young friends, when heaven looks down upon your lives, goodness matters more than greatness. And so as some of you prepare to leave this current field of combat for new turf in the work-a-day world while others of you face the challenge of further education in the collegiate arena, to both groups I say, be involved in mankind. Be quality people, make a contribution, don’t be a mind without a soul. There is wholeness, a serenity for those who have balanced the secular with the sacred, those whose lives are grounded, founded upon the rock of our Redeemer, who with all their academic success have not forgotten the Giver of all good gifts. Certainly the most important thought I can leave you today is that in all your getting, get understanding. Secure your testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, for as the theologian, George McDonald, reminds us, “If you have not chosen Jesus Christ first, in the end it will make little difference what you have chosen first.”
 
 In the words of the poet John Dunn, “No man is an island, entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the … main; If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less…. Any man’s death, (pain, suffering, need,) diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for who the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”
 
 I leave you my witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that the restoration of the Gospel is the greatest blessing in your life, and that as you combine the sacred with the secular in your studies and balance them appropriately, your life will be the better, your successes will be sweeter, your happiness will be secured. In the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.

A Change in Focus

27 Oct. 2004

Transcript

A Change in Focus

 
It is really exciting for me to be back. I am experiencing a flood of emotions centered on fond memories of this college and for the most part, linked to individuals. There are many familiar faces that I see here and a lot of you look familiar in a way, even though I don’t recognize the faces and I don’t know what’s behind them.
As I was sitting in the front, I reflected back on when I was here. I worked at the College for 11 years. I left in 2001 and there were a lot of students to meet and greet in those 11 years. During the years that I worked here, if I sat in the front during forums or devotionals, I would look out at the faces and be able to see, understand and read the different stories that went with them. You are a story, you are a book, and you’re a book in process. I knew so many of those stories, so many of those books and it was exciting. I arrived at the school today just a little early and slowly took my time coming in so I could soak in all those memories.
 
Like me, you probably at times pick up the pace in your life and run around so fast that you’re not aware of what is going on around you. I slowed down enough this morning before we started to soak in the memories. It was interesting that no matter where I went there were memories. I parked over in the parking lot, just over on D-Street and as I was crossing the street I paused, remembering my very first day on the job. I parked on D-Street, and I came early and sat in the car. I was obviously a little nervous, wondering what that first day would have for me. My wife had packed me a lunch and it was sitting in my car. I picked up the sack of lunch and it had a funny shape to it, so I opened it up and looked in. She had put a nice little card in. I pulled it out and since I had time I opened it up and read it. It was just a short card but the message inside was appropriate for the occasion. It basically culminated the beginning of this job which was, shall we say, the end of some challenges.
 
It took me a long time to get through school. I had four kids by the time I received my bachelors. I was working in a trade, trying to get through school and it was quite a challenge to complete my education and support my family. It was hard on the family; my wife struggled a lot.
 
When I accepted this job, I was excited about it. I was taking a cut in pay, but heading in the direction that I knew I wanted. My wife knew it was the beginning or continuation of additional struggles for her. In that nice little note she basically said, I’m excited for you; I’m behind you a hundred percent; do your best. Knowing that she had already struggled with a lot, she was behind me and that’s what I needed.
 
That was the beginning of my experience here at the College, which was quite an experience. What made it the experience were the personal relationships, for the most part, with you students. You are books, as I mentioned before. You are a book in process and you are interesting books. As I look at your faces, it’s not always easy to tell what kind of books you are. But the books that I read and that I understood as I was here were all sorts of interesting books. There were high adventure books and there were very calm and casual easy reading books. And then there were some of you that were challenging books to experience, you were mysteries. Some of you were even kind of comic books to read, in a way. What kind of book are you? Soap opera is not a book and you don’t look like a soap opera. I did experience a couple of soap operas here.
 
I know that some of you have your challenges, but each chapter has a conclusion and it goes on to another chapter. We live our lives in chapters. The LDSBC chapter in my life was an exciting one, a lot of story in that chapter, a lot of things that I learned.
 
Karen Peterson mentioned the process that I went through here at the College when I sort of, shall we say, went through the ranks. I started off as a recruiter and admissions counselor. It was fun and exciting. Then I stepped into different positions and different responsibilities. Karen also mentioned about when President Woodhouse had this great idea to take the three of us and rotate our positions for a year, I had the opportunity to rotate into Keith Poelman’s position, and Keith into Doctor Brown’s position, and Doctor Brown into mine.
 
Most people didn’t think it was a great idea at the moment. In fact some people thought it was a very different and maybe even a dangerous idea. I think Doctor Brown and I struggled with it a little more than Keith did, but I think we all learned from that experience.
 
I learned a lot. I remember very vividly the day President Woodhouse called me into his office to inform me about the change. It was a Friday night. I had some appointments, I was busy. He came in to talk to me and I still had to finish up some things before we could talk. It was the end of the day that I went into his office and as President Woodhouse is fairly direct, he laid down the line. He gave very little introduction to the concept, told me what was happening. At first it really didn’t sink in, I wasn’t exactly sure whether it was a joke, even though he doesn’t joke around with things like that. I wasn’t sure how serious he was or really what it meant. I probably said a few things like, “Oh, okay,” and “I guess okay.” I really didn’t have a choice. It was a statement he was giving, not a question whether I wanted to or not, although he was polite enough to ask me a little about how I felt.
 
I had that weekend to think about that. I stewed it over and over again. I was uncomfortable with it. I was not excited about it. I thought of all of the challenges and problems I would have. I would be out of my comfort zone. I would be away from the things that I like to do and doing things that I wasn’t exactly sure how to do. How successful would I be, I thought?
 
 I thought about it constantly throughout the weekend. I noticed near the end of the weekend that my focus had shifted slightly. What happened during that weekend was a change in focus. Initially, I was focused on myself. I was focused on the inconvenience it was to me, the challenge, and the additional work. But when my focus moved more towards future prospective, not just today, not what’s in it for me right now, but  the future prospective of what can potentially be in it for me and for others, that’s what provided the excitement for me.
 
By Monday I was excited, I was ready to go.  In essence, I didn’t have a choice, but I was glad I didn’t. That opportunity provided for me a strong foundation for what I am doing today. The College prepared me for what I do today. That year was a significant focus on preparation for me, a year that I did not choose, I was asked to do and somewhat told to do. From my perspective, I feel that the president may have had some guidance, divine guidance in what he did. If it was just for my benefit I’m grateful for that.
 
Hopefully, Doctor Brown feels a little bit better about it. I haven’t talked to her much about that experience afterwards, and hopefully she was able to benefit from it. Keith, I think, benefits from anything. He’s prepared for it all and he does a great job no matter where he is.
 
Notice what took place in the change of mindset, which really was more of a change in attitude. The change was a focus from inside to outside. It’s natural for us to focus on the inside, what’s in it for me. We do that in business, don’t we? When I talk about business, I’m talking about it in the broad, more generic sense of business, in terms of not just business majors. Whatever your major is, you’re involved in the business that I’m talking about. It’s the business of going about your life. Your life is business, earning an income, serving those in your family, serving those around you, serving those in your Church callings, it’s all business. That is the broad perspective of business.
 
Obviously, I have a focus on business. I’m immersed in my business. I sleep it, eat it, drink it, and it bothers my wife sometimes, but it is a part of me. I love it. When I worked at the College here, she was challenged because I loved it so much. I wasn’t a clock watcher. I immersed myself in the business of LDS Business College. I hopefully don’t neglect my family too much, and I’m blessed with a great family.
 
Just a week ago today we checked a daughter, our third child, into the MTC. What a choice experience that is for a parent, a choice experience for those to serve on a mission too. As a parent that is a unique step in your life.
 
When our son went on a mission it wasn’t as hard to take him to the MTC. It was a little sad to seem him go, but we were kind of anxious to get rid of him. He was a handful and we needed him to leave so that we could appreciate him again, and it worked. We appreciated him while he was home but he’s got an interesting energy level.
 
This daughter, however, was a little bit different. It was hard for me to let her go. Boy, is she prepared for the mission field. We got our first letter yesterday and the letters we are getting from her now are the type of letters we were getting from my son as he was deeper into the mission field . We saw a maturity in him as an individual and in the gospel and I already see that with her. She is going to have a wonderful time.
 
In her letter she briefly shared an experience where she was introduced to the call center as part of her training. She mentioned taking a call just the other day from a fifteen-year-old boy in Illinois. He is a foster child staying at a foster home and just searching for something in life, struggling with life. She said she was on the phone with him for over ten minutes and how excited she was just to spend time with somebody who is searching for something better.
 
She said, “What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to not only talk about the Book of Mormon and provide an opportunity for him to understand better Gospel principles and the Gospel itself, but to share my testimony with him, that I knew for sure it was true and I could say that with conviction. I just hope it touched his heart in a way that he will read the Book of Mormon.” He didn’t feel comfortable having the missionaries visit his home because he is a foster child and didn’t feel he had reins to do that.
 
How exciting that was for her and as a parent to experience that. Emotions are still near the surface as I share this with you because I know how she feels and I know potentially how that young man felt as he was talking with my daughter.
 
That’s business, folks, but it is a personal side of business. It’s fun when you get personal. I like to actually have a little more interaction. I don’t enjoy giving a one way speech; I like communication.  It feels more natural for me to interact with you, especially since I don’t know you well. I hope that I get to know you a little bit better as we talk about the personal side of business, because it is dealing with you as an individual, and as a person.
 
The people that you will deal with out there in the business world, who you will be earning your wages from, are individuals. They are human beings out there. Sometimes when we have this business focus, we get focused on the money aspect. Money is something you can chase, something you can seek after and even if you seek after it, you can catch some of it, but it is pretty fast.
 
My partner tells of an experience that two hunters had. The two hunters were out hunting antelope, and antelope are pretty fast. The hunters weren’t having a lot of luck chasing after the antelope. They couldn’t actually get close enough because they are so fast. One of the hunters was a little wise and he understood antelope just a little bit, so he said to the other hunter, “Okay, I have a strategy here. We know there are a couple of antelope over there, just over that hill, so just follow me.” They walked up to the top of the hill, surveyed the area so they could see the antelope. The antelope were not too far away, but the hunters stayed there long enough until they knew that the antelope saw them, at least one. As soon as the antelope saw them, the two hunters turned around and just sauntered on down the hill out of sight. They went over to the side and just sat and waited.
 
Now the two antelopes that were there, one of them said to the other, “Did you see that?”
 
“What?” said the second antelope
 
“Did you see that?” said the first again.
 
“Whaaat?” said the second,
 
“Those two guys over there? There were two guys.”
 
“Well I saw something out of the corner of my eye,” said the second.
 
“What did they want?” said the first.
 
“I don’t know?” said the second.”
 
“Let’s go see,” said the first. So the antelope, curious as they are, turned around and followed where they saw those two men. They sauntered on down the hill a little bit looking for the hunters. They became easy pickings for the hunters.
 
In business, sometimes those who have a business focus want to chase money. They are like many of us who say I need more money. We start chasing these dollars and these two dollars are having a little fun with us as we chase them. They might say, “Come and catch me if you can,” and so we start to chase and try to catch those dollars. But the harder we run, the faster they run. And the two dollars are just having a riot, “Look, they’re almost caught up. Let’s go,” and they take off again. So we get a second job and we get a third job and we work harder and harder chasing those dollars as our prime focus. And no matter how fast we run, no matter how fast I run, I can’t catch those dollars. They’re faster and they’re playing a joke on us.
 
Eventually I say to myself, I just can’t catch these dollars and I’m getting tired of trying to catch these dollars. You know, I think I’m going to turn around and chase something else. I’m going to seek something else. I turn around and rather than chase the dollars, I seek something else in a business focus. I seek developing personal relationships. I seek understanding individuals who have needs. I seek to understand them to the extent that I could meet those needs. I start caring about other things, more than the dollars. Before you know it those two dollars are over there saying, “Hey, where did he go? He was hot on our heels, where did he go? He’s going the other way! Let’s go find out where he went.” The dollars turn around and start following and looking, and  they find me busy chasing other things. I’m busy chasing the things that count as far as a person is concerned. I’m busy caring about other things and I’m busy with that. I’m running faster to catch up and take care of those things and the dollars are saying, “Hey, hey, he’s getting away. Let’s go.” And they’re faster then I am and so obviously they catch up and in some cases, in our cases, they can catch up, they can pass us.
 
But sometimes it takes a different focus, it takes a shift of focus away from the dollars, to care about other things and let the dollars take care of themselves. That doesn’t mean that all the dollars that you want are going to catch up to you and just jump in your pocket. Hopefully enough do. But we’re given guidance that we need to focus on what is right. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then other things will come to you.  That’s true in business. Seek what’s right.
 
I really enjoyed working at the College and one of the significant things I enjoyed here was the spiritual atmosphere. I also enjoyed the opportunity to come and associate with people at a professional level while embracing the Gospel through meetings, through class, through all sorts of experiences. To have the Gospel all around you is great. Would you consider this the traditional definition of what’s out there in the business world? We often say “What’s out there in the business world” when we are talking about out there in the world in general.
 
Does the Gospel have any place in the business world? I really enjoyed it here. I enjoyed a significant part of that Gospel experience here. As I was leaving here, looking to go out into, shall we say, “the world,” I wanted to take the Gospel with me, I wanted to make sure that out there I could have a Gospel experience also, and it’s possible.
 
You can still choose what you want to do whether it’s here at the College embracing the spirit in your interaction, or out in the world. The Gospel follows you; the Gospel comes with you, if you invite it, if you take it. It’s actually fairly easy.
 
We have a Gospel-centered focus at our business. Not all of the students who come to our school would actually know that for sure, because we don’t start our class with prayer. It’s not evident to them in that sense, but do we have prayer? Yes, we do. We have prayer in our business. Many of our meetings start with prayer. We have gospel topics and issues that we talk about all the time, and it is still a gospel-centered focus at our business. It fits in very well, it blends in and in my opinion that’s actually what you should be doing now in your jobs and as you look to go out into the world.
 
As you focus on your business career (and again I’m not just talking to business students,) whatever you do, take the Gospel with you. That is part of the value you take into the world; it is a significant part of value you take into the world. You hear about this in your classes and in some of the other discussions that you have. You hear about the importance of the gospel principles—that is because they are important.
 
Occasionally I’m asked questions like, “You seem pretty interested in business. Do you have business books that you focus on?” and I’ll say that I like to read business books and periodicals. They do help in preparation; they help in building a strong business focus and foundation. But the principles that work, the things that work out there in the business environment are actually based on Gospel principles themselves. As you embrace them, the business embraces you, the world embraces you. Whether you are running a business or working in a business, the Gospel fits in. It’s actually a fun way to run a business, because you focus more on the outside. What is a basic Gospel principle that we embrace? Charity and love are Gospel principles.
 
In our mission statement and the guiding principles centered with our mission statement, the basic principle is love. We will bless the lives of others beginning with ourselves, meaning we will take care of our employees to make sure they are taken care of, so they have the ability to continue and bless the lives of others. That’s the basis of our mission statement. Some principles focus on school, and even though we are a school and we do focus on those educational things, it is all based on the principle of love. We even share our mission statement when we share our introductory class with others. We don’t talk about love in that introductory class. We wait till the end. And at graduation we talk about it and share with the students what we stated as our goals, and all of those were, in essence, based on that principle of love.
 
It is interesting to be able to say at the end to as many as we are able to talk to, “You know, that was fun. And the reason it was fun is because it was on a more personal level. We were able to interact heart to heart rather than just topic to topic as we were studying to prepare to pass this significant exam. Some of those exams were hard and challenging for individuals to get through.
 
It is fairly easy to get to know individuals and to be connected with them. Of course, some naturally can do that better than others. They have the gift of gab, so to speak, and it is actually kind of fun. I like to get to know you just a little bit. There is a face I recognize in the crowd today. I won’t pick on her because she is a friend with my daughter. For the most part, the faces aren’t familiar and I don’t know that much about you. But I’d like to get to know you. Are there any students that are from Japan here? How many returned missionaries do we have? Quite a few; that’s impressive. You ladies have to watch out for those returned missionaries. Those are the ones you want to date. Anyone from Canada? My mother was born and raised in Raymond, Alberta. Canada is a great country. The exchange makes it a little tough for you Canadian students to come down, so we are probably a little smaller in numbers than what we were in the past.
 
How many are international students? Still a good number. I had a lot of interaction with international students and you provided a lot of fun and unique challenges, and we love you.  You provide a great and interesting mix for the College from an international perspective. I used to love doing the stats, and part of what I did with the president at graduation was profile the student body and get a sense of who was here and what they were all about. You come from all over the place, not just geographically but from all over the place in terms of your experience in life.
 
December is upon us. The colder months make it easier for you gentlemen on dates to get your date to sit closer to you. I know some of the issues you deal with as students here. Your focus is somewhat of a more internal focus such as, “Am I going to find the right person?” Hopefully some of you that are married have found the right person. That quest to find the right person is a big step. As parents know, I am very nervous as my children are stepping into that. My oldest is married; she has two children. That provides an interesting dimension in our lives, having grandchildren. My second son just announced his engagement a week ago Sunday, and so he is stepping into that. That is a big step and an exciting stage for you. This is going to be one of the biggest decisions in your life.
 
I used to go out, when I was a recruiter, and talk to primarily high school students. I talked to them about the golden years that they were approaching. They were seniors and I was talking to them about their golden years, and it wasn’t retirement I was talking about. Your golden years, I was implying, are the next five years from high school, when you are making those key, golden decisions that will impact your eternity: Where will you go to school? Who you will meet and marry? What career path you will take?
 
It’s a little bit different than the golden years when you get to retirement. But these are your key golden years. Spend those golden years wisely and make wise decisions on who you date, who you marry and so on. It’s fun to experience that. Enjoy it, remember it, and keep a journal so that you can reflect back and laugh a little bit.
 
When Matt called me to ask me to speak, he asked me if I wanted to have a question and answer period. I said, “Well, I like to interact with students.” We don’t have much time, but just in case you have some questions before I give you some closing thoughts, I want to open up the discussion. Any inspiring thoughts and questions you want to throw out? I haven’t really focused on a deep topic other than business and some of the personal aspects of it.
 
Student: “In regards to marriage, what is your advice?”
 
Brother Swenson: My advice? My advice for you is to make the right choice. Easy for me to say, isn’t it? My advice is, it is a huge decision and so don’t make it alone; make it with your Heavenly Father, prayerfully. There are different philosophies about that in terms of wondering if there is there is only one.  Well, I don’t know what your philosophy is and I’m not going to necessarily share with you what mine is. But there is a right one for you and the Lord will help you understand whether you are there or not.
 
Sister Linda Aukschun:  “What I’d like to know is does real estate make a good career for women who like to be at home with their children?”
 
Brother Swenson: That’s a good question. Well, remember I’m biased. I’ve got the real estate focus here, but let me try to give you the unbiased response. I know there is a struggle for woman making that decision, wondering what to do in terms of working out in the work field, what are the career opportunities, what should I be doing.
 
In my opinion real estate can be a good one for females that want to work at home. Any job, including real estate, can be challenging and demanding enough that it would take you from a focus at home. So I would say that it is as good as almost any. One thing that provides a little bit of an edge or shall we say an improvement is that it’s your business. You’re self employed, you are setting your own pace and hours, you do what you want to make it successful, so it does have flexibility.
 
My oldest daughter who is married and has two children now is struggling with this issue, because she and her husband are struggling to make ends meet and survive. She got her real estate license, she actually is a partner with me. She does all the work, and I get all the credit. When she started out she said, “Dad I want to help you out, I want to do something. I need a little income, but I want to stay home.” She is juggling it all, and I think she is doing a pretty good job. People like her well enough that she has more business than she wants, so she has to kind of shy away from some things. But it is working out well for her. That’s kind of a long answer to say, “Yes.”
 
One more question because I think we are short on time.
 
Student: “The most important thing that you did in your life was to have eight children.”
 
Brother Swenson: Thank you. Having eight children is not easy and starting out in my marriage I wasn’t planning on eight children. I don’t know how many I planned on, but we had eight and we’re grateful for all of them. But it was tough; it was very tough. I watch you in your lives right now. You’re very busy, you’re challenged, and as you get out into the world and try to support a family, that’s not easy. But children are a blessing in your lives. They can be.
 
Let me conclude by sharing some words that have stuck with me for a long time that I often share with our graduates. We have graduation every Friday and we have open enrollment. I try when I can to attend and share a few words with them and these are some words that have stuck with me and I just enjoy.
 
These are words from Og Mandino’s book “The Greatest Salesman in the World.” I don’t know if you are familiar with that book. I find that many of you young folks are not familiar with Og Mandino. He’s great. His first scroll reads like this, “Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard, where there is fruit for all. Today I will pluck grapes of wisdom from the tallest and fullest vines in the vineyard, for these were planted by the wisest of my profession who have come before me, generation upon generation. Today I will savor the taste of grapes from these vines and verily, I will swallow the seed of success buried in each, and a new life will sprout within me.”
 
The words go on to say in that scroll that failure is all around us, but that success is attainable. What is success other than the attainment of ones personal goals, whatever they may be?
 
Brothers and sisters, I wish you success in your life, in your business career and again, in a very broad sense in your business career. But I wish you success in your life. Life is wonderful, life is fun, full of challenges, heart aches, but that is part of it. It helps you appreciate more the blessings that you do have and you do have them. I also feel impressed to leave you with my testimony. I have a testimony, I have a strong testimony and I feel I ought to share with you that the Gospel is true, and Christ lives. It is the guiding principles of the Gospel that will help you in your business career, in your school career, and in your family life.  He does live and He loves and cares about you. I share this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Now Is the Time to Decide

10 Nov. 2004

Transcript

Now Is the Time to Decide

 
 
It’s a pleasure to be here. I envy the ability that you have as part of your college curriculum to meet together in the name of the Savior and to learn truth, because truth has no boundaries. One of the great abilities we have is to have the Holy Ghost bear witness to us of truth. Truth is not just the kind of things we talk about at church on Sunday. As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, we are commanded to study out of the best books.
 
I’d like to start today with a question, and it’s a question that I was asked many times as a small child. It’s a question that, if you’re like me, you were asked many times as a small child and it’s certainly one that I asked a lot of my friends as a small child. It’s very simple, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I’d like to change the emphasis of that a little bit to say, “What are you going to be………when you grow up?” 
 
Think about that question as we talk for a few minutes about success and about happiness and about the things that we do to have success and happiness, the fleeting moments in our lives and the small things that really do make a difference. 
 
Speaking of fleeting moments, I was coming home from meetings the other night and I pulled into my driveway, got out of the car, and grabbed my brief case. I looked into the window from the driveway, and I could see right through the dining room into the living room. I noticed through those windows my eleven-year-old daughter, Emily. She was in her beautiful Sunday dress. It was dark outside so she didn’t know that I could see her and there she was twirling around as young girls do in princess dresses. I stopped for a moment and thought, “This is one of those fleeting moments.”
 
Our lives are full of fleeting moments. What we do with those moments is of paramount importance. What I just shared is only one example, but I’m going to talk a little bit about moments and about hinge moments in particular, because you will all face hinge moments. By that I mean what President Hinckley meant when he talked recently about hinges in our lives, those moments on which very important events in our lives turn. Very important character traits are developed and so forth.
 
I could also ask you about rudders and helms and who or what controls the helm of your life, or who or what you allow to turn the rudder. Our lives are somewhat like ships and, as we are taught in modern revelation, just as a small helm controls a very large vessel so, too. do small things control large things in our lives. There is a great debate in our society, in every avenue and every area that you can imagine, about whether or not the environment controls, or whether we control. I want you to think about that for a minute as I tell you one experience I had.
 
When I was a first-year law student I had a professor at the University of Utah who was a very good professor; he was one of my favorites. His name is Tom Lund. He is still there, and he still teaches torts. I showed up for my first day of law school after the week-long introductory course where they tell you how scary it is going to be. I showed up my first day and went to Professor Lund’s class. When I got there I was full of anticipation and some trepidation. Professor Lund had a reputation for being a master of the Socratic Method and if you know anything about the Socratic Method or about Socrates, you know that he taught using questions. Professor Lund never answered the questions. He just posed the questions and required the students to think. He took that to the nth degree. He would pose a question and then say, “How’s about them apples, Mr. Welch?” and there you are on the stand in front of all your peers and colleagues. So I was looking forward to this with some trepidation and because of that, this event which would otherwise be unimportant, has stuck in my mind.
 
 I’m going to try to make it something far more profound then I am sure Professor Lund ever anticipated. He asked a simple question and he made a simple observation. He said, “What did you do for your summer vacation?” I thought, “Wow, that’s not what I anticipated my first question would be in this Socratic method class. Then he said, “Well, Mr. Welch, the reason I ask that question is if I were to ask you to write an essay right now on that question and I said that you will be graded on creativity and on cogent thinking and on reasoning skills and the ability to communicate them, the grade I give you on that paper today, right here, right now will be substantially identical to the grade I will give you on your final examination in three months in this very class.”
 
His statement caught me by surprise. It didn’t seem right to me, and I’ve thought a lot about that since. I came to the conclusion that Professor Lund was largely correct with one major exception, one major caveat if you will. He was correct in that I had already brought to the class who I was. I had prepared myself to some degree to be there, but what he was missing was I had control over the next three months of my study habits, of how well I listened in class, of the skills that I honed, and my reasoning ability. I had control and he was giving no credit for that.
 
There is a scripture in modern day revelation. It’s one of my favorites, and you all know this. It’s in the Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28. It says, “Verily  I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of there own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness…….For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise loose their reward.”
 
I believe that and I’m sure that you believe that. If that is true then Professor Lund was incorrect in one major respect. I’m sure he didn’t mean to be profound with his statement; he was just playing with me on the first day of law school.
 
Let me talk about some key issues. These key issues are going to include the following: first and foremost—integrity, or as Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” When I say key issues, I’m talking about in your professional life. Based on my experience as a trial attorney, which is a pretty hard hitting profession and sometimes can be a very cynical profession, I have found that these keys are of paramount importance. There is no difference between their application spiritually and their application in a professional setting for things that really matter.
 
Second, I want to talk a little bit about priorities and the need to set them, the need to know what it is you want and why it is you want that. Or, as I would put it, remember who you are. “Remember who you are,” is something my mother, who is here today,  often said to me as a young boy.
 
Third, I want to talk a little bit about the law of the harvest. You know what the law of the harvest is, or as they say it on the farm where I grew up, “There ain’ t no substitute for hard work.” There are no short cuts in life. Don’t spend any time in life looking for them. The rewards are there for short cuts, but they’re artificial, they’re not the real thing, or as they also said on the farm,  “There ain’t no cows going to milk themselves” and, “There ain’t no crops going to harvest themselves and there certainly ain’t no carrot going to grow from a bean seed.”
 
The Lord put it more articulately when He said, “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” In the Book of Mormon it says what you put in you’re going to get out. That is true in life, it’s true in your profession, it’s true in the work place and it’s true in the most important relationships that we have in life. Just ask my wife. She’ll tell you that marriage is hard work. She’s married to me so it’s probably harder for her than it is for most people.
 
Integrity. To thine own self be true. This is a principle that I’d like to illustrate with a case I was involved in as a trial attorney. I was made a partner in 1995.  I finally had some of my own clients. I was starting to develop my own practice. I was very busy. While I was trying to develop my own clients we had a very important institutional client, Geneva Steel. Many of you know Geneva Steel; they had been a client of my firm since 1987.
 
One of my partners left, and I was asked to step into this very important case that involved a hundred and ten million dollars. I was required to prioritize and make some decisions very quickly. But that’s not what I want to tell you about. I just wanted to give you that as context, because I want to tell you about an individual from BYU. He was an MBA student. I’ll call him Bill; that’s not his real name .He was a fine individual and has become an example to me and I’ll tell you why.
 
In January 1996 there was a very unique pattern of weather events that occurred over the Great Salt Lake. We have weather patterns that are unique and rare over the Great Salt Lake all the time. But what was rare about this particular event was that the winds stirred up salt from the west desert, and mixed the salt from the lake with stone and rain. The precipitation moved it across the Tooele Valley, across the South Salt Lake Valley, and across all of Utah Valley, coating much of the area with a thick, milky substance that had salt in it and when it dried it was like concrete. It covered windshields, it covered windows, it caused accidents, it was a real problem. In the context of this case, it also coated substations, the insulators and the breakers that are at those substations at Utah Power and Light, causing massive power outages, mostly across Utah Valley.
 
Geneva Steel is located at the heart of Utah Valley. Back then it was operational; it was a fully functional steel mill. It had coke ovens that required power to keep them from eating themselves. A coke oven is twelve inches wide, 20 feet high, about 30 feet long and it’s connected side by side with 50 other coke ovens in a battery. Geneva Steel had four batteries of coke ovens. They operated anywhere from 2000 to 3200 degrees. Separating those individual ovens are silica brick, rows of silica brick that expand and contract with the heat and keep the oven from falling apart. If you can’t exhaust the pressure that builds up, an enormous amount of pressure builds up that’s going to go somewhere. So having power to exhaust these coke ovens and coke batteries becomes critical. The night of the storm they ran out of power. Fortunately, Geneva Steel had at the time a fifty mega watt generator. The generator kicked in and was just fine.
 
The generator is designed for this very purpose; it happens all the time. Steel mills have to have back up generation. The generator kicked in and “Bill” (not his real name) was in the control room that night at 2:00 a.m., January 1996. He notices UP&L goes off line. No problem. He looks at all of his charts and the others that are with him look at the charts and there are literally hundreds of charts in the control room, about the size of this room. He looks over at the clock, which is one of the gauges, and in a moment of panic, he concludes from that chart that the generator has separated from its own load.
 
If you know anything about electrical engineering, you know what will happen very quickly if someone doesn’t reconnect the load is that the generator will power down, the steam turbines will go down and there is no way to restart them. The mill will start to eat itself, and Bill, knowing this makes a decision as he is supposed to do, being the control room operator. He thinks the generator is off line so he has seconds to get it online or the generator is down. Bill trips the switch. But in fact, Bill had misread the gauge. The generator was functioning perfectly, it had done what it was supposed to do. The gauges were operational. Bill had simply misread the gauge. So when he tripped the switch he literally separated the generator from its load and it powered down and now Geneva was dying, literally, and people were at serious risk of injury.
 
The power house right next to Bill has three-story high generators with steam turbines. These things are enormous and there are four of them. When power runs out and when the steam turbines power down, all the water and the steam has to drain. It comes down and drains and you’re left with several feet of water at the bottom with electrical connections everywhere. There were men running through the power house, trying to disconnect the electrical connections before people were killed. There were men on top of the coke batteries running with their boots melting beneath them, trying to unscrew the lids manually before they shot off. Fifty of them out of two hundred blew off. Forty-pound lids screwed down, steel to steel, blew off and there were torches shooting fifty feet in the air. This was a serious problem, and it was put into action by a simple, innocent, honest mistake by one individual.
 
The investigations began, my firm was contacted, and I was one of the investigators. This is one of the things I enjoy about my job because I get to see forensically how people react. I get to look back over the event in a cool setting and pick it apart and decide how those involved reacted. I got to know Bill a little bit and know what he is like under the face of enormous pressure. By some miracle and by heroic efforts of many, no one was killed that night. Bill told the simple truth, he had a choice and he told the simple truth. I call it the simple truth because if Bill had cast a web that evening—and he could have easily—he was in a situation to make it look as if it was a mistake. Imagine if he had cast that web how difficult it would have been, with government and safety agencies investigating, with attorneys investigating, with insurance companies investigating.
 
The story has a happy ending because Bill’s honesty in that particular case paid off, believe it or not. Contrary to what his fears must have been, nobody blamed him. His co-workers didn’t say, “How could you have, how dare you cause me to risk my life.” Nobody said that. Rather, an unexpected result came to fruition. The insurance coverage for Geneva Steel covered operator error. This insurance coverage did not cover acts of God or rain storms or snow storms. If he had attempted to cover it up, he actually would have ended up hurting himself or his employer. That doesn’t always happen. Bill demonstrated great integrity in the face of enormous pressure, which is what I am suggesting, which is badly needed in our workplace today and in your profession. Integrity is number one.
 
I have a partner, his name is Clark Waddoups. He has practiced law roughly twice as long as I have. I have been his partner for 14 years. His name is in our firm Par Waddoups, and so he is a named, prestigious partner in our law firm. When Clark learned I was speaking today, he said, “Tell them about my two rules.” I’m going to tell you about Mr. Waddupps two rules. These two rules are ingrained into us as we come into the firm. They are very simple and are of equal, paramount importance.
 
Number one: The most important asset that we have as attorneys is our own personal, integrity and our reputation for that integrity. When I was a younger attorney and I tried cases with him, as I was going off to court Clark would remind me, “I’ve worked for many years to have my reputation for integrity. Don’t mess it up. Be honest because you’ll develop a reputation.”
 
Number two: The only thing we should ever deliver faster than good news to our client is bad news. You need to think about that rule for a minute, because what it means is, own up, take responsibility, be accountable. If you make a mistake, don’t hide it. Take responsibility for it. That is so crucial in today’s world. I would commend those rules to you; they are very important.
 
Let’s talk for a minute about Abraham Lincoln. We all know him. There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that I love. He was an attorney and he was one of my heroes. Abraham was tutoring a young law student. The law student asked him what people ask me all the time, “How can you be an honest lawyer?” Abraham Lincoln turned the question back around to the individual and said words to the effect: “Oh, I’m honest.. Honesty transcends profession.”  And then he stated these famous words, quote, “First be honest. And if you cannot be an honest lawyer, than be honest without being a lawyer.” I would tell you the same thing. If you, knowing yourself, cannot be an honest business person, then be honest without being a business person. In other words, your priorities need to be in that order.
 
 I stand as a witness to tell you that you can be an honest business person. You have the power. Decide now, decide once. Decide now that you are going to be honest. If you do not decide now, just like the ship where no one is holding unto its helm, which is controlled by the wind and the waves, the wind and the waves will decide for you. You don’t want that to happen. Not only that, if you don’t decide now, then you will decide under very difficult circumstances. You will decide when confronted with a choice, like Bill’s, with a salt storm in your own life. That’s a difficult time to decide if you haven’t already. And you’ll have to decide, over and over again. Decide now.
 
I don’t want to suggest to you that there aren’t people in the world who benefit from being less than honest, because there are. In fact, in Alma the Lord tells us, “I, the Lord, grant unto men according to their desires, whether they be good or whether they be evil and men are free to chose captivity and death according to the plan of the adversary or to chose liberty and life, according to the plan of the great mediator.”
 
If that’s true, then the next topic is crucial: Priorities. What are they? What are our priorities? Let me give you a quote from a business magazine that I found the other day. This comes from The Organized Executive which is a business news letter magazine. It says this: “The sense of control in the work place is becoming more elusive.” That is true! Remember that personal control thing? You have power that is becoming more elusive, according to this magazine, due to meetings, interruptions, deadlines, computer problems, staffing issues, information overload, travel schedules, e-mails. I get 350 emails on average every day. Boy, you can get overloaded with that. You can feel like you are spinning out of control and the situation is only worsening. Professionals must compete in an escalating time to do more with less.
 
Effective time management has become an urgent priority for both workplace performance and personal sanity. In some professions, such as an accounting profession,  or if you are going into law, you bill your time as a general rule, and so you have to keep track. In most cases you bill every six minutes. I bill my time in tenths of an hour. If my hourly rate is $250, a tenth of an hour is $25. I need to be prepared to explain to you why it cost you $25 and what exactly I did to help you during that time.
 
 I know many of you are in the accounting profession, so what do you do? How do we deal with that? Well that’s not an easy question to answer. But I believe with all my heart, having done it now for 14 years, that if you prioritize and rank priorities in your life, you will be in control. In fact I’d like to give you a couple of quips from people who have done that.
 
The CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, refuses to work late if he’s made a commitment to his children. Wow, that’s a novel concept. But that’s not uncommon. The vice chair of the board of Columbia TriStar motion pictures works four days a week. She spends Fridays with her family. Lucy Fisher is her name. John Malone who is a tele-communications mogul, works five hours a day. He drives home for lunch. Jill Barad who works for Mattel as the CEO, ritualistically goes home to watch ER and X-files with her husband and children. I’m not suggesting to you that ER and X-files are the answer. I’m not suggesting that four-day work weeks are the answer, or that five-hour work days are the answer, because in the real world, for people working your way up, that’s not the answer.  What I am suggesting to you is that you are in control of what the answer is.
 
If I can just give you this suggestion on prioritizing: Write down a list—and this requires a lot of thought—of twelve items that you encounter on a week-to-week basis. Then prioritize those items in order of importance, based on your values, based on your life situation. Then work on them in that order. You will have done much to prioritize your time. If you do that every week, you’ll find that your thoughts become your actions. As President McKay told us, “Your actions will become your habits, your habits will become your character and your character will determine your destiny.” You have control, but do it now. Don’t wait. Get started.
 
In my profession I write all the time, briefs or letters or papers, and the hardest thing about writing is the first draft. Did you ever notice that? The first draft is hard to do, isn’t it?  But if you don’t do the first draft, you never get it done. That is an example, it’s a type of accomplishing difficult things. What you need to do is to pick out the most difficult part, and start right there. Don’t wait. Start it now and accomplish the most difficult part.
 
If you reflect back on your life to times when you felt a sense accomplishment, to times when you were at peace with yourself, to times when you have been happy, you’ll find often it’s after you have accomplished something very difficult. You feel best when you face up to that responsibility.
 
Have you ever heard of a guy named Aristotle? Of course you have. You know Aristotle, the great philosopher. He said, “Happiness resides in activity.” Isn’t that interesting? Both physical and mental, he said.
 
President Hinckley said it this way, and I love this comment, “I love the gospel of work.” What does “gospel” mean? It means good news. Can you imagine a prophet telling us that he loves the good news of work. That’s a great thing. Adam was told in the Garden of Eden that by the sweat of his brow he will eat his bread all the days of his life. I don’t think that was a curse to Adam. I think it may have been a curse on the earth, but I think it was a blessing to Adam, because work and hard work often is a blessing. There is no substitute. The opposite of work, according to President Hinckley, is not leisure or play or having fun, but idleness. Idleness is the opposite of work. It is okay to play, it’s okay to have fun, it’s okay to have other activities. But work while you work and play while you play.
 
President Hinckley also said, “We simply cannot expect to refine the substance of character from the husks of pleasure.” Let me quote a poem on this and I’ll move on. There is a book that was famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century called McGruffy’s Primer. McGruffy’s Primer was apparently required reading for most students for public schools in those days and it would be good reading I think for those of us who try to mix business with pleasure. I’ve been guilty of that from time to time, and sometimes it’s a good thing. For example, have you ever tried to do homework while watching TV? I know I have. I’ve been there, I understand. My wife maybe will cringe at this because I have done this: Have you ever taken a pager with you to a movie theatre?  Here’s the poem: “Work while you work, play while you play; One thing each time, that is the way; All that you do, do with your might; Things done by halves are not done right.” Isn’t that great? I love simple, profound things like that.
 
Teddy Roosevelt said, “In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means there has been stored up efforts in the past. But if one treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period not of preparation but of mere enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer on the earth’s surface and is unfit to hold his own with his fellows if the need to labor again arises. I preach to you, my country men, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor.”
 
Let’s talk briefly about attitude. Remembering who you are is part of that, and remembering that you are in control. In my office I keep a picture just over my credenza. It’s a print. My mom has the original in her home. It’s the dairy farm where I grew up, and I do that because it reminds me of where I came from. It reminds me not only of the place but of the ancestors, of my grandparents and my parents and their hard work to give me the opportunities that I have now. It reminds me who I am. It helps me remember as I set priorities; it’s an attitude check during a hectic day for me.
 
I remember a business class in college. It was taught by Professor McKay; it was a business management class. He taught us about marketing and he taught us about interpersonal relationships in the business world. He was a case study person. He was also Socratic. He gave us case studies about Coca Cola and Pepsi and those kinds of things and advertising and we learned a lot about slogans. I don’t know if any of you have been in those kinds of classes. Labels and slogans are powerful in advertising, they’re powerful in political campaigns. They’re powerful in a lot of settings, but they are very dangerous as well, especially if we apply them to people and especially if we apply them to ourselves.
 
Have you ever been labeled? Has somebody ever said, “That is just kind of the way he is?” Have you ever said, “That is just kind of the way I am?” Fair self-analysis is okay as long as you are not thinking “That is the way I always will be.” You have power, if your attitude is correct, to change that. To change the hand you have been dealt in life is to actually become the one holding the helm and turning the rudder. You are using the same wind and waves that are directing the people who aren’t holding the rudder, but you’re steering through those same winds and waves. Attitude is huge.
 
We’ve all heard about Thomas Edison, who was called a dullard in school. His teacher said, “He will never amount to anything.” That is a direct quote from his teacher in public education. Wow, was she off. But what if he had believed that label? We would have a different world today, wouldn’t we? General Electric probably wouldn’t exist.
 
Pestilotsi was Italy’s foremost educator. (President Hinckley recounted this one in his book.) He was dubbed the “dumb ox” in school. France’s impeccable writer, Fleuber, was told when he was young that he could not read. He struggled with reading, but he learned, and he became a very good writer.
 
 James Earl Jones, with the deep voice, was Darth Vader with that deep, very beautiful voice that is so articulate. He had a speech impediment as a young child and his attitude and his mother’s encouragement got him over it. My own father overcame a speech impediment as a child.
 
Let me close where I started, and if there are any questions I’d be more than happy to take them. What do you want to be when you grow up? Because now is the time to decide: Am I going to be honest? What is my attitude? How hard am I willing to work at the things that really matter to me? Elder Scott said, “One of Satan’s greatest tools in our day is to convince us to fill our lives so full of good things that there’s not time for the essential ones.” So what are they? What are my habits? What are my thoughts? What am I going to work on? What am I going to take control over, and become anxiously engaged in changing?
 
President Hinckley, in 1999, said, “Do you realize what we have? Do you recognize our place in the great drama of human history. This is the focal point of all that has gone before; this is the greatest of all ages of human endeavor and human accomplishment. We stand on the summit of the ages, awed by a great and solemn sense of history.”
 
While we stand on that summit—the ages of this world—let us take advantage of all the good that is before us. We ought to learn from the great minds of the past. Let us attempt to understand the mistakes and frailties of prior generations so we are not bound to repeat them in our own lives. Let us, in standing where we stand now, not forget the seemingly simple things that engender greatness, those little hinge moments. What are we going to do when confronted? How honest are we going to be in the work place? I would tell you that one of the great privileges I have as a trial lawyer is to be forensically involved in investigating cases. I see time and again, in deposition after months of investigation, where I’ve put together what I think is the critical lie, if you will.
 
 I see that day of reckoning for people who have in the short term gained treasures of the earth by lying. That day of reckoning comes, whether it comes in this life because it doesn’t always, but it often does, or it comes in the next. That day of reckoning, if you’ve chosen to be less than impeccably honest, is not a good place to be. The end of that road is not a pleasant place and I’ve seen that again and again and again.
 
The Savior said, “Whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap.” That doesn’t only apply to the treasures in Heaven that He said are available and that we should store up for ourselves in Heaven. It also applies to here and now. The peace which the Savior promised, which surpasses understanding, is available only, whether in business, in life, or in relationships, through honesty, through integrity, and through being true to who we are. The definition of integrity is acting in accordance with our beliefs. I submit that as we study and learn from the ages, we will find truth in the great adage found in the Book of Mormon, that out of small things proceeds that which is great. It is these small things that create our character and define it. Ultimately these things of every day life make up most of our selves. My advice is simple then. Recognize who you are right now and decide who you want to be. The power is yours. Be true to yourself and to the person that you want to be, and I know and testify that success and happiness will follow if you will do that, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
 
Questions from students:
 
“Would you defend someone you know is guilty?”
I don’t do any criminal law. I practice in the civil arena and I find, not withstanding some of the stories I’ve told you, that for the most part humanity is good and for the most part the disputes that I resolve are disputes that are honest disputes between people who simply have different understanding and different perspectives. I have defended people who have lost, and I have been on the other side where people have had a very strong feeling about a claim and have lost. Fortunately I have been on more winning sides, but it is a difficult question to answer because I don’t do any criminal law.
 
“Do you know when someone is lying to you?”
I can usually tell, although not immediately. The truth almost always comes out in our adversaries system. In one form or another, and in those cases, usually the case settles before the trial. I see my role sort of like Abraham Lincoln did and that is a resolver of disputes.
 
“Are you required to have a lawyer to go to court?”
Very few cases actually go to trial and in most cases you do not need a lawyer. Many people like to use lawyers. We like to think as lawyers that we are good dispute resolvers. You can always defend yourself in your country if the claim is against you as an individual. You cannot defend a corporation without an attorney.
 
“What is the growing effect of mediation in terms of legal disputes?” 
It continues to grow in popularity. I have done about a hundred mediations in fourteen years and fewer than a tenth of that many trials. Mediations are great things because it is voluntary, unlike arbitration, which is essentially a trial with a chosen judge. A mediator is someone who helps you come to the table. They help you bridge the gap and after a case has ripened, after the facts have developed to some degree, mediation is always something I encourage. It is a very good thing. It saves a lot of time, saves a lot of money and the only people who win when you go to trial in most cases are the lawyers. That is not a good thing for our society. It is not a good thing for the legal profession ultimately and so mediation is a great way to resolve disputes.
 
“What are your feelings about the Book of Mormon and lawyers?”
That’s a great question. In fact, I have to tell you about when I showed for my first day of law school. I went to my introductory course. The professor stood up and after he scared us to death about how average we were, he quoted Brigham Young and what he said about lawyers and where they are going. I’m not sure how to answer the question as it pertains to the Book of Mormon, but there were lawyers who did a lot of damage in the Book of Mormon. There were lawyers in the Savior’s time who did a lot of damage and we have that happening right now in our society. We should recognize that lawyers do have power and that is why I believe that integrity and impeccable honesty is absolutely essential in the legal profession. As I have worked in the community, honesty is largely present among the attorneys, which surprises a lot of people. But that has been my experience.
 
“How do you work in a world where everybody around you has to lie for their clients? How can you be honest with your dealings with your fellow men?”
Good question. My personal creed is that I am not going to twist the facts and I always tell my clients when we come in, I don’t care what the facts are as long as I know them. Be honest with me, don’t hide something. If down the road I find something that they lied about, that breaks that relationship of trust and I have to sit down very directly with them and tell them, this doesn’t work unless I trust you and you trust me. That is my own personal creed. Are there those who perhaps view it differently? Probably. Contrary to popular belief, most lawyers don’t go in and encourage their clients to lie. In fact, that would be a crime to do that. It would be grounds for disbarment if it was proven. That doesn’t happen as often as I think the public tends to believe. Those cases do happen and they get all kinds of public attention and they are inappropriate. But you have to have that personal creed, you have to say what I will and won’t do. I won’t work for just anyone, and if I think you’re lying to me I’m going to tell you that, and I’m going to tell you that it’s not going to work, I require that full disclosure in initial interviews with clients. The same would be true in any business setting.
 
“What do you think of pro bono work?”
Being a lawyer is the only profession I know of that is required to sell the only thing it has to sell for free and that is our time. It is the only thing we have to sell as lawyers. We are required to sell some of our time for free and I love doing that. When I was a young lawyer I was involved in a program called Tuesday Night Bar. We would show up on Tuesday night down at the Law and Justice Center and anybody could come in and ask us anything. I always make it a point to have something going on pro bono. I did a case in Southern Utah for a young girl who had been abused from the time she was six years old until she was seventeen by a pediatrician. I did that case for free. It was a horrible, gut wrenching case and I helped her get some counseling and I helped get the doctor out of the state of Utah and things like that. Those things are essential and you should look for those opportunities in your profession because the world needs us and when we’ve been given so much we should give something back. Thank you for your time.

The Fiery Furnace

17 Nov. 2004

Transcript

The Fiery Furnace


About 600 years before Christ—at about the same time that Lehi and his family were leaving for the new world, Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. Israelite slaves were taken to serve their masters in Babylon . Four of the most famous were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They are known for refusing to eat of the king’s rich diet and drinking his wine. Daniel became known for interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams—similar to Joseph and the Egyptian Pharaoh. Daniel subsequently served as the confidante and counselor of the King. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were placed over the affairs of the province of Babylon.

Some time after the ascent to leadership in the Babylonian kingdoms, jealous dignitaries close to the King sought to destroy the Israelites. A great golden image—90 feet high—was built and placed in the kingdom where all could come and worship it. The dedication of the image was a major affair of state. All the dignitaries of the kingdom were called in, which included Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Music would be played at a certain time of the day and then all would worship. And it was said that, “Whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6).

Because it was against their religion to worship idols, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down to the huge golden image. Subsequently they were taken to the fiery furnace to be consumed. Where Daniel was at this time we are not told. He was probably close at hand and either lacked the authority to stop the tragic proceedings or was told by the Lord not to interfere. So the decree was carried out. The three Jews were bound tightly in their robes and thrown into the furnace.

The heat of the fire was so hot that the soldiers who threw the young men into the furnace were burned to death themselves (Daniel 3:17 -22). The Bible then tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste, and spoke, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” He then said, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have not hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-30). The king then commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to come forth out of the furnace and subsequently restored them to their administration posts. This story has a happy ending—at least for the three faithful Israelites.

I would like to tell you of a true modern day story that has similar overtimes. This story comes from chapter 12 of the autobiography of Paul Jesperson, entitled, “My Internship on Earth.” (Sixth printing 1986). Brother Jesperson was born in 1910 and died about two years ago in April of 2002. His wife, Lilly, is still alive, as are his five children. Brother Jesperson was the stake president of the Chicago Illinois Stake in 1960. He served two missions to Denmark —the country from which his parents immigrated in 1906. The following is his story:

“In my late teens while studying engineering at the University of Utah , I worked nights, seven days a week, as night engineer and fireman at the steam and electric power plant of the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City . My father was then the chief engineer at the hospital, and to help me earn my way through college, had entrusted me with this responsible job.

“The plant consisted basically of four coal-fired steam boilers and two steam-driven electric generators. As the hospital was not connected to the city’s utility, it was entirely dependent on its own power plant for heat, light, and power—all vital in keeping its 300 patients alive. During my shift at the plant (from midnight until 8 a.m. ), I was entirely alone with two buildings full of large and complicated machinery and equipment. Even today I find it difficult to comprehend how such a responsibility could have been entrusted to an immature young man still in school.

“In those days, power plants were not automatic as they are now. Every pound of coal had to be shoveled into the furnace hoppers by hand; proper flow of water to the boilers, and air to the furnaces had to be manually regulated. To generate the high-pressure steam, terrific temperatures were required in the furnaces. The white-hot fire would, at times, get so intense the brick lining of the furnace would melt and run like molasses—this takes a temperature of about 3000 degrees, or ten times as hot as a baking oven. This high temperature was developed by directing a blast of air into the fire, the air being led from large fans through air tunnels under the boiler-room floor.

“As part of my job, I was required once a month to inspect these air tunnels, and clean out any ashes that might accumulate in them. I should explain that these tunnels were about thirty inches square. The main tunnel ran the length of the boiler room, in front of the boilers. From the main tunnel ran branches at right angles leading into each furnace. Immediately before the branch tunnel went under the furnace there was a large butterfly damper of one-quarter-inch-thick steel plate, roughly thirty inches square, so pivoted that it could be shut to completely close off the air to the furnace.

“To regulate the amount of air flowing, a steel bar handle was fastened to the damper and went up through the floor. There were notches along the lower edge of this handle so the fireman, standing on the boiler room floor, could lift the damper to any desired opening, and then secure it in that position by means of the proper notch. The damper was so balanced that by releasing the handle at the notch, the damper would fall shut by gravity, and the handle would automatically drop into a notch to put the damper into a locked-closed position. From the damper, the air tunnel continued another eight feet or so under the firebox of the furnace.

“One night, about three in the morning, after checking to make sure that everything in the plant would be okay during the ten minutes I expected to be down in the tunnels, I opened the manhole in the floor, let myself down into the main tunnel, and closed the manhole after me, as the air had to be kept blowing through the tunnels to keep the fires going. There was no need for a flashlight or other illumination as the white-hot fires glowed from the furnace out into the tunnel. But even though the temperatures in the fireboxes were over 2000 degrees, it was comfortably cool in the tunnel, due to the constant rush of cold air.
“Arriving in front of one of the boilers, I was now face-to-face with the steel damper. It was wide open so I could peer past it and inspect the tunnel under the firebox of the furnace, and see the cast-iron grates at the top of the air duct, and the roaring fire above. As I was so close to the fire, yet still so cool, I wondered if it was also that cool in the air duct right under the fire.

“It is said that “Young men think old men are fools—but old men know young men are fools.” Being young and foolish I decided to find out. Lying down on my back I slowly wiggled under the damper, head-first, until my head and arms were actually on the other side of the damper, and inside the furnace, with the roaring fire now just inches above my nose. The radiant heat from the glowing coals was quite intense, but amazingly enough the cold air blasting by me kept me from getting unbearably hot.

“It was at this point that I made the most stupid decision of my life. It has been said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that makes you stupid—it’s what you do know, and don’t do.” I said to myself, “I can go in all the way, then be able to brag to my friends that I have actually been inside a white-hot furnace and not consumed!” (Jacob 6:12).

“So, still on my back I continued to inch my way forward until, with a final shove, I got my feet out from under the damper and inside the furnace. In making this last move, however, a terrifying thing happened. My toe somehow caught the damper control handle, knocking it out of its supporting notch, thus causing the damper to come crashing shut. With the air flow completely cut off, I was immediately engulfed in the full heat of the furnace. Realizing that I could survive but for seconds, I knew that somehow I had to get turned around in that cramped space, and without touching the red-hot grate above me, get my hands onto the damper handle.

“To this day I don’t know how I did it, but some way or another I got myself turned around. But now the real horror of the situation struck home—the damper facing me was but a smooth piece of steel plate, completely filling the tunnel. There was no handle I could grab and release. The handle was on the opposite side! Desperately I clawed and shoved against the plate, hoping that somehow the handle had not locked shut. But it had. There was only one option left—I would have to break or bend the damper open. With the intensity that only a life-or-death struggle can command, I pressed against the damper until it felt that every blood vessel in my body would burst. But all to no avail. The damper held fast. Realizing at last that there was no way I could get out, I just quit—gave up—sank down, and prepared to die.

“What does a person think about when he faces sudden death? Some say that all the scenes of his life flash rapidly before him. Not with me. All I could think of was my parents—they would never know what happened to me, for soon I would be burned up, vaporized, and disappear without a trace. While thus in the depths of remorse for the sorrow and agony I would inflict upon my mother and father for the rest of their days, I heard a creak, then felt an inrush of cold fresh air. Opening my eyes I beheld a miracle—the damper was slowly turning open.

“With the full blast of the wind now once again around me I quickly regained my waning senses and lost no time in crawling out under the damper and into the security of the main tunnel. Only one thing was on my mind—who had unlocked the handle and opened the damper? Had someone up on the boiler room heard me rattling the damper, and then opened it? But that seemed impossible. Besides me there were only a half-dozen men in the whole world who would know where the handle was, and how to open it, and they were all miles away and sound asleep. I hurriedly crawled to the end of the tunnel, got my hands on the manhole cover, lifted it off, and boosted myself out onto the boiler-room floor. My eyes quickly scanned the area, but there was no one in sight. I walked over to the boiler I had been under. Sure enough, the damper handle was raised to full open position and locked in place. It was uncanny. I began to get the strange feeling that someone close by was watching me. With some apprehension I began a systematic search of the room, but found no one. Gathering courage I went outside, completely encircling the power plant. Not a soul was in sight—only the cold, black, silent night.

“Back inside I sat down to think. Who or what had lifted the damper against the combined pressure of the air, and the force of gravity? Then into my mind flashed the well-known Bible story of Daniel’s three friends. As you remember, King Nebuchadnezzar had them bound and thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshipping his golden image—but when he peered into the seething furnace he saw not three but four, all walking around unharmed, and one of them was a radiant being like unto the Son of God. He then called the three to come forth out of the fire. When all those assembled noticed that not a hair of the three young men was singed, nor their garments charred, and that there was no smell of fire upon them, the king said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants that trusted him.”

“I thought to myself, how long a time was I in the furnace? The maneuvering to get turned around the prolonged agony at the damper, the time in final contemplation—it had to be at least a few minutes. Yet I knew that a rag thrown into the furnace would burst into flame in a few seconds. Why hadn’t my lungs shriveled, or the water in my eyes exploded into steam? I ran my fingers through my hair—not one was singed; my clothes—everything was intact, nor was there any smell of fire upon them.

“What were my feelings? Amazed, relieved, ashamed, grateful, but most of all, perplexed for although I now knew “what” had happened, and “how,” I still did not know “why.” To answer this I had to ask myself, “What would have happened if I had been left inside the furnace?” The answer to that was easy; without additional coal the steam pressure would drop, the steam-powered generators would slow to a crawl, all electric motors would come to a halt, the boiler fans would stop, the fires would go out, the power plant would die, and the hospital black out. Babies in their incubators would die; delivery rooms, sterilizers, operating rooms, X-rays, and all hospital facilities in need of light, power, or heat would cease to function, jeopardizing the lives and well being of 300 patients, and creating a scandal that would rock the hospital and the Church for years—for although a stand-by diesel-powered electric generator was in the plans, it had not yet been installed.

“Something died in me that night. Whatever the reasons were for saving me, one thing was perfectly clear—my life was no longer my own. I knew I owed my life to the Lord, and that from then on I could never turn down any request or call from His Church. Whatever I was asked, I would have to comply.
“ Alma to his son, Helaman, said, “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” ( Alma 37:35). I was a humbled young man, and so ashamed of my foolishness that for many years I never mentioned the incident to a soul. It was 17 years later, while driving with my father from Salt Lake to Chicago , that I finally got enough nerve to tell him the whole story. Being more knowledgeable about the power plant and its boilers than anyone else, he was quick to grasp the full significance of the event. But I never discovered what went through his mind, for he didn’t say a word. He just sat dumbfounded, slowly shaking his head back and forth. It was the only time in my life that I found my dad speechless.

“As I now contemplate this harrowing experience, I am impressed with the symbolism. In many ways it reflects the principles of the gospel applicable to sin, repentance, and salvation. For example:
     °I knew it was against all laws of safety to enter the furnace.
     °I had my free agency, but used it to my detriment.
     °As a result of my disobedience, I was locked out of further association with father and became subject to death.
     °To escape death I had to get myself “turned around.”
     °There was no way for me to escape solely by my own efforts.
     °A “Savior” had to open the door.
     °The way to salvation was strait and narrow.
     °There was only “one” door.
     °I had my free agency, to either go through the door, or burn.
     °If I decided to go through the door to salvation, I had to go through on my knees.
     °Once I had gone through the gate, my life was no longer my own. I became, in a sense, the subject of my Savior—thus taking upon myself His name.”

Christ is the name of that Savior. We know He is the Firstborn. Our doctrine is very unique; it speaks of the pre-existence. We know that He is the Firstborn in the spirit and of course the Only Begotten of the Father—an immortal, perfect individual—and Mary, a mortal who we honor and revere and respect. I bear testimony to you, which is part of my call as a General Authority, that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is our Savior, He is our Redeemer, He is the Prince of Peace. Only through Him can we truly find the peace that the world needs.

I bear you my testimony that a prophet leads and guides us in these latter days, and that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church. May we understand how important it is to follow Him as our grand exemplar. As He opens His arms, may we understand that He loves us, that He is merciful, and He wants us to follow Him.

I leave you my testimony that the Gospel is true, that the scriptures will give us the direction we need to follow, and that we do have a Prophet that leads and guides the Church today. I’m grateful to be with you and bear my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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