1. Never label any particular “race” of people as being stupid, ignorant, or bigoted. Stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry comes in all shades.
2. “Race” is a man-made term used to divide groups of people and often to build walls of division, derision, degradation, belittlement, and even hatred.
3. Accept all people for whom God created them to be, and always try to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
4. To judge a person by the color of his or her skin is to prove your level of misguided ignorance, and not necessarily your level of intelligence. Intelligent people do not allow the color of a person’s skin to create walls of division, but rather they work together, regardless of “race,” to build bridges of hope, love, peace, and understanding.
5. Never make rash and hasty decisions or opinions about any person until you have tried to walk a mile in his or her shoes, and have strived to make some effort to at least understand what makes him or her who they are. In other words, at least try to view the world through their eyes and not always your own.
6. Never be quick to criticize another person, or quick to point out their shortcomings and faults, unless you have seriously taken the time to look carefully at the individual who looks back at you in your mirror and can honestly declare that person whom you see as being “perfect.”
7. Judge no person by the color of his or her skin, but only by the content of his or her character. The color of the skin has nothing to do with intelligence levels or anything else for that matter.
8. Be quick to show love, patience, and understanding, and slow and careful to despise or reject another because of supposed differences. Strive to find the commonalities that can bind you as brothers and sisters, and focus less on the differences that supposedly cause division between you.
9. Treat all humanity as persons of dignity and self-worth, and strive to eradicate the words “hate” and “hatred” from your vocabularies. For to hate another often, in turn, leads to more hatred, which eventually leads to a bloody battlefield of contention and strife. Always remember, hatred only begets more hatred. We need not be at war with one another, but should try to find ways to live together as brothers and sisters.
10. Those who are incessant to use the “race” card for every situation, or to judge another person according to the color of his or her skin or “race” are in and of themselves racist and bigots regardless of the color of their skin. Beware of being numbered among their ranks.
We Are All Special in His Sight
There is not one person on this earth who is any less important, or any less special than another. We are all children of the same Heavenly Father whose immense love for each of us is incomparable to any other love that we will ever experience in this mortal life. His vicarious atonement was not just for the “special” one, nor the select few, but rather, He willingly suffered and gave His life as a ransom for all humanity.
God does not care about the color of our skin. He does not care about our social status. Nor does He care about the amount of material possessions that we have amassed in this life, or how much material wealth we have accumulated. When He looks upon us, He sees His sons and daughters, and although we are imperfect, He still loves each of us equally and unconditionally. He does not categorize us according to race, culture, life style, religious beliefs, or any type of caste system. Everyone is special and of equal importance in His eyes. That means that the person who lives alone in a shack in the lowest of valleys is of no less importance than the person who lives in an extravagant mansion on the hillside with a view of majestic mountains.
It does not matter if we are Black, White, Native American, of whatever race or culture, slave, free, Jew, or Gentile. What does matter is that each of us matter to Him. God is no respecter of persons, and if we profess to love God and that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot be a respecter of persons either.
Let us always be quick to love and slow to judge any of our brothers and sisters. Be thou wise O’ man to never put thyself above others, or to judge another unjustly, For pride and haughtiness often lead to a great fall, and the judgments that we meet to others, may well be the same judgments that one day will leave ourselves being weighed in the balances.
Andrew Jackson – One man with courage makes a majority.
I would like to take just a few minutes to address the youth of the world – those who are destined to someday be great leaders, and who will make their ineradicable mark upon the world through their ingenuity, intellectualism, influence, and zealousness. If there were but one message that I could impart to the youth, it would be simply this – Be Bold, Be Courageous, Be Strong.
Webster defines the word “courage” as the ability to conquer fear. The word “bold” is defined as courageous. Therefore, one who has courage is also bold. Theodore Roosevelt once said:
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught:
After we have done all we could do for the cause of truth, and withstood the evil that men have brought upon us, and we have been overwhelmed by their wrongs, it is still our duty to stand. We cannot give up. We must not lie down. Great causes are not won in a single generation. To stand firm in the face of overwhelming opposition, when you have done all you can, is the courage of faith. The courage of faith is the courage of progress. Men who possess that divine quality go on; they are not permitted to stand still if they would. They are not simply the creatures of their own power and wisdom; they are the instrumentality of a higher law and divine purpose (Gospel Doctrine, p. 119).
As you journey down the highways of life you will without a doubt encounter obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles may seem insurmountable, but take heart, for you will overcome them. In order for you to overcome the obstacles that you will face, you will be required to have courage. Courage to make decisions – sometimes at a moment’s notice. Courage to say yes. Courage to say no. Courage to be able to stand in the face of adversity for that which you know to be right, even when being right means being unpopular. No matter what the consequences, you must always have the moral courage to stand your ground for what you know to be the truth. Don’t give in or compromise to be friends with those who you know are wrong. President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval” (Ensign, Thomas S. Monson, “Courage Counts,” November 1986, p.41). If your friends laugh at you, ridicule you, despise or even reject you, take heart, be courageous and STAND. And having done all as the Apostle Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 6:13 – STAND. Remember, even the Savior Himself was mocked, jeered, ridiculed, spat upon, and rejected.
When I think of being courageous, I am reminded of such stories in the scriptures as the account of Daniel whose very name means “God is my judge.” In Daniel 2, you will recall that king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him greatly. He called upon the magicians, astrologers, and the Chaldeans to recall and interpret the dream or else they would be put to death. None of them were able to fulfill the king’s commands. This made him furious and he commanded that all of the wise men of Babylon were to be destroyed. Daniel, who is in prison at this time, asks that he might be given a little time and he would show the king the interpretation of his dream. The secret of the king’s dream is revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Daniel goes in before the king, recalls, and interprets the dream. Because of Daniel’s courage, the wise men of Babylon were saved from execution, the king’s dream was interpreted, and Daniel was rewarded with great gifts and was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel’s three companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also given charge over the affairs of the province of Babylon.
I also think of the courage and boldness of those three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who in spite of the king’s command to bow down and worship the golden image that he had created, stood firm for what they knew was the right thing to do, even if it meant death in the fiery furnace. The king ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. Because of the intensity of the heat, the men that put the three Hebrew children into the furnace perished. However, because of their great courage, boldness, and trust that God would deliver them from their situation, they were unharmed by the flames. Not even the hair on their heads was singed, nor were their clothes burned. The king saw what great faith these three Hebrew children had, issued a decree that anyone who spoke against the God of the Hebrew children would be destroyed, and the three were promoted in the province of Babylon. (See Daniel 3)
I am also reminded of the incident that occurred at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado on 24 February 2010. I am sure that most of you can recall the events that took place on that dreadful day. During that ordeal the perpetrators started taunting some of the kids by asking them if they believed in God. One brave girl stood up and said, “I believe in Jesus!” She was immediately gunned down in cold blood for her faith. I cannot help but wonder how many of us would have been that courageous, that bold, if we were the ones in that same situation. Her death was indeed tragic, but her testimony was everlasting. The scriptures warn us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). You may never have to deal with situations quite like these, but there will be many situations that you will face that will require you to be both courageous and bold.
You are going to face many challenges in life. There will be times when you are tasked to do some things that may seem impossible for you to do, or that go against the grain of your moral fiber. In your own limited strength and wisdom, those tasks may very well be impossible for you to accomplish, but just remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). There is no situation that you may find yourself in, no crisis that may come your way, no heartache that you may bear, no trial that you may face, no obstacle that you may have to overcome, that Christ will not give you the strength to endure if you will but put your full trust in Him and be obedient to His commands and His will for your lives.
May I conclude my remarks with the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in Ephesians 6:10-18:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
My humble prayer for you this day is that you will grow to be courageous, bold and strong in the Lord. I also pray that you will “Fight the good fight, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). For “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:38).
I humbly believe that there are many good hearten people who are equating love for their brothers and sisters to mean acceptance of lifestyle or behavior. I can love my brothers and sisters (as I am commanded to do), but that does not necessarily mean that I accept their actions and behaviors. They, like myself, have their free agency, and are free to choose their path in life. You will not get any argument from me on that matter. Therefore, I refuse to hate, demean, belittle, degrade, or even condemn any of my brothers and sisters to hell as it were because of their life choices and decisions. I do not claim, nor will I purport to be their judge or jury. Regardless of the path that any of my brothers and sisters choose to follow, I echo the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “I choose to love, because hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I do not pretend to know the heart of another person. I have enough to do to make sure that my heart is in the right place. I do not pretend to understand the life of another person or the choices that he or she makes. I have enough to do to make sure that I keep my life in order, make the right choices, and stay on the right path.
Therefore, I cannot justify trying to clean out the corners in somebody’s house, when there are cobwebs in my own that perhaps need cleaning out. Let us remember that we are all imperfect people in need of a perfect Savior. Let us not fall into the trap of judging other people because we feel that the size of their sin is perhaps greater than our own sin, or because we do not practice certain behaviors, we somehow feel that we are better or superior to others.
Now, there will be some who will argue, “By loving your brothers and sisters regardless of their lifestyle and choices in life, aren’t you really condoning their behaviors and conforming to the world?” The short answer is a resounding NO! Love is compassion. It is not conforming to anything. I can have compassion for someone, help and support him or her as one of my brothers and sisters in any way I can without accepting those things which are contrary to my own personal believes and morals.
I guess what I am saying is that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth of the matter is that all of our neighbors do not live by the same morals, standards, or believes that we do, but that does not give us a poetic license to shun them, hate them, or treat them as societal outcast. Through our love and compassion we are demonstrating how we can be in the world, but not of the world.
We need to stop always focusing on the negative aspects, and start focusing on the good in people. We need to try to build more bridges of hope and understanding, instead of adding mortar and brick to walls of division, contention, and strife.
Dear friends, all the bickering, arguing, and hatred needs to stop!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:10-18).
If I were to describe my life up until now, the two words that I would use are “stuck record.” You are probably asking yourself how a person’s life can be compared to a stuck record. I cannot speak for anyone else, but looking back on my life, there were several things that caused my “record” to become stuck.
As a child I lived in an extremely dysfunctional home environment filled with some very unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. Those behaviors eventually carried forward into my adult years. Knowing of no other solution to cope with the problems that I faced in life, I continued to exhibit the behaviors and practices that had become ingrained in me. Thus, I remained a victim of my circumstances, and because of my unhealthy practices and behaviors, I became addicted to drugs, found myself in environments and unhealthy relationships that were abusive, and I used sex as a tool to boost my self-esteem. I lived my life caught in a vicious spin cycle of repeating the same practices and behaviors over and over, perhaps expecting different results each time, but in reality, my life became nothing more than a cycle of insanity. It was obvious that living my life in that way was not serving me well, but alas, I was hopelessly stuck.
In order to get unstuck, I had to start taking complete responsibility for my actions, and realize that only I could pick up the needle off the “record” and substitute that worn out “record” with a different one. Not only did I need to change the stuck “record,” but I also realized that a change in the music choices that I had become accustomed to listening to was also in order.
You might ask, “Was it easy to get rid of my old music collection and start building a new one?” Absolutely not! However, if you want the “record” in your life to become unstuck, you might have to go through your collection and throw out some of the old music that you have listened to – some of the old behaviors and practices that have made your life toxic and miserable – and start building a brand new library of music that will help move your life forward. The heart of the matter is this, YOU are the one who must make the decision to quit being a stuck record!
Starting Over Again – A New Music Collection
Throughout my life, my behavioral patterns and attitude have been based on an unhealthy and poisonous music collection. The “music” that I was listening to created a realm of negativity in my life, and was literally destroying me. I had sold my heart and soul to toxic “lyrics” that either my mind was filled with as a child, or that I had stored in my memory as the years passed. I discovered that I could not get a new “music collection” until I had completely removed the old negative and toxic lyrics that were playing over and over in my mind. I had to retire the old artists that were enabling unhealthy behaviors which caused me to devalue myself, as well as relationships with other people.
I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to deprogram myself from listening to old lyrics that have never helped me in my life. Albeit, in order for me to develop a “normal,” healthy life, I know that I need to get rid of the old records and CDs in my life, change my environment, and revolutionize my way of thinking about myself and others. In order for me to evolve into the woman who I am meant to be, I need to throw out the old music collection and start a new collection – new friends, thoughts, attitudes, gestures, and ideas – that will help me to develop a new character within myself. I have to start listening to new artists whose song lyrics will help me grow physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
There are three important keys to starting a new music collection – honesty, open-mindedness, and a willingness to do so. The million dollar question that begs an answer is, “How eager are you to start listening to new artists that have better ideas and words of wisdom to impart that you have not been able to obtain before?”
Karlyn Kay Stebbins
April 10, 2015
Karlyn Kay Stebbins’ Biography:
I have a double major in sociology and psychology and a minor in communications. I was before a licensed addictions counselor in a treatment center up until recently. Due to a drastic series of some life-changing events, I now live in Hawaii and I am going back to school for my master degree in sociology.
I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter day Saints and have been a member since 26 March 2011.
My interests are furthering my education and spending time with my partner and her friends and eventually becoming active in the LGBT Community here in Hawaii, and doing some addictions counseling work within that Community. I love to read, write, and hang out at the beach.
There are people in this world who seem to make it their life’s mission to continually fan the ever glowing embers of ignorance and hatred. When one little spark from those embers ignites into a flame, they will continually fan that flame until it turns into a raging inferno. Once the inferno is raging, they will try to keep it ever-burning by incessantly dowsing it with the gasoline of unrelenting ignorance and hatred. In time if someone does not combat the fire, and try to bring it under control, it will eventually destroy lives and livelihoods.
It proves of no sound purpose to ever retaliate against ignorance and hatred with more of the same. Hatred only begets more hatred, and ignorance only begets more ignorance. The result only leads to a blood stained battlefield populated by all too often innocent victims, many of whom never know or understand why they ever became a “soldier” in the proverbial battle. They only know that it seemed like the right thing to do then, but they never stopped to question the validity or justification for the proverbial battle cry.
We need more “firefighters” in this world, and fewer people who continually start fires, oftentimes for unclear or nonsensical reasons. Once a fire has gotten out of control, the only way to bring it back under control is to repeatedly douse it with a solid stream of the cool healing waters of brotherly love and compassion, and completely smother any remaining glowing embers with a blanket of human dignity, self-worth, and patient love.
Sometimes we cannot see the proverbial forest because of the trees that impair our vision. We sometimes exert our energy in concentrating on what makes us different and fail to recognize the commonalities which should help to unite us as brothers and sisters. We may not agree on everything, but our differences should not cause us to become bitter and mortal enemies, but rather friends who are willing to live together, learn from one another, and most of all love one another.
However, let us be ever mindful that if we want to have friends in this life, we must first prove ourselves as being friendly. If we want to live at peace with those who would otherwise seemingly be our enemies, then we must not show hostility and malice towards others. If we want that people trust us, then we must prove to them that we are trustworthy. To live at peace in this world requires the efforts of many, not just the few or the one.
Let us also be mindful that respect is a reciprocated process. We cannot and should not expect others to support us and give us due respect when we at every turn find ways to undermine, demean, embarrass, or utterly disrespect them. If we want people to respect us, we must FIRST learn to respect others.
I humbly pray that I shall never be faced with the decision as to which people to love for I strive to live at peace with all men and have a heart’s desire to love everyone as my brother and sister. No barriers, artificial or otherwise, can nor should separate us because we can all share a common blanket of love. It is our love for one another that unites us and strengthens us.
Regardless of our race, regardless if we are rich or poor, regardless of our occupation and station in life, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all members of The Royal Family with a Father who loves each of us equally and unconditionally. It is impossible for a man to say that he loves his Father, but yet holds malice and ill will towards one of his brothers or sisters. If we say we love our Father, we must love ALL of our brothers and sisters as well.
No, we cannot fight fire with fire, but all of us can do our part to help extinguish any fires by drowning them out in an ocean of love.
Don’t ever think that you are a lone soldier on the battlefield in the midst of a war with the enemy encircling your camp, the ammunition supply almost depleted, and communications down. Soldiers are never sent into battle alone. They always have other soldiers in front of them, behind them, and fighting right beside them. Help is never far away.
Likewise, we may at times feel that we are all alone and that no one has ever experienced some of the same things that we have experienced or are experiencing in life, but rest assured that is not necessarily the case. No matter how rough and arduous our road may seem, it is a guarantee that there is someone, somewhere, whose road is a lot rougher and arduous to travel than our own.
We need not go through life thinking that we must fight the battle alone. God has promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us, thus we are never alone. In the heat of the battle, when it seems that all hope is gone, and there is no one whom we can call on for help, He is our very present help in time of trouble, and He will send His angels to protect us from the front, from the rear, and to walk right beside us. The communication lines between us and Him are always open. Let us always remember that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.
God never intended for any of us to be someone’s footstool for them to rest their feet upon, or a door mat for others to wipe their feet on. He also never intended for any of us to be someone’s punching bag to be punched and kicked about when the need to release pent-up frustration and anger arises. Furthermore, He never intended for any of us to be the object of, or the subject of, constant undue ridicule and criticism.
Each of us are special sons and daughters in our Heavenly Father’s eyes. There is not one person who is any more special than another. Our Heavenly Father loves all of His children the same – equally and unconditionally. His love for us is not based on the color of our skin, religious beliefs, religious affiliations, culture, background, or even our sexual orientation. It does not matter to Him if we are married, widowed, single, divorced, rich, or poor. All of us are special and precious in His sight.
How sad it is that there are people in the world who always seem to want to treat others as being beneath them. These are those who live under the misconception that the world revolves around them. They think that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening upon them, and so in their mind’s eye they are the only ones that really matter. Everyone else as far as they are concerned are mere insignificant beings. Consequently, they feel that they are the lords and masters and everyone should bow before them as lowly servants. They believe that they can do and say whatever they want, when they want, and treat others any way that they want, and no one should say or do anything about it less their actions become misconstrued as an act of treason or insubordination.
Sadder still is that there are many wonderful people in this world who have allowed themselves to be literally robbed of their dignity and self-worth because daily they live under the tyrannical reminder from those who think of themselves as being better than they, that at best they are hopeless and unworthy to be treated any differently. Though these precious souls may not agree with the way that they are treated, they, for whatever reasons, choose to retreat to being silent and endure such harassment. Some are simply too kind hearten, loving, and caring people to ever want to retaliate in any way or otherwise voice their anger and frustration. And so, in utter desolation, they stay the often silent victims of those who continually take their kindness as a sign of weakness.
We are all someone special. Each of us are a precious soul of worth. As such every one of us is entitled to be treated with dignity, respect, and self-worth. No one should ever be left feeling that they are inferior to another. No one should ever feel that there is another who is master over him, for we have only one true Master – the Lord Jesus Christ – the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. And it is at His name that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He alone is LORD!
If we find that we are the victim of maltreatment that does not automatically give us a poetic license to become vindictive towards our offenders. Instead we need to take a step back for a moment, and then move forward to handle the situation in such a way that a resolution can be reached in a peaceable and sensible way without leaving any of those involved in the conflict feeling lonely, rejected, or otherwise feeling inferior when compared to the others. Let the conflict be resolved with the full understanding of all concerned that we are all indeed someone special, so let us treat each other so.