peace

10 Important Things I Would Teach My Children About Racism, Bigotry, and Hatred

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Children of Different Races

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

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Nelson Mandela Quote

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.

Treat Others As You Would Want to Be Treated

The Hatred Needs to Stop!

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Stop Hating!

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!

Is there anything too hard for the Lord?

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Beautiful Stream

A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. – Song of Solomon 4:15

 

From time to time I pause to reflect upon the events that have taken place as this pilgrim continues on his journey through life. As I have traversed the hills and the byways there have indeed been many wonderful mountain top experiences, but there have also been some down in the valley experiences as well.

The terrain upon which I have traveled has at times been smooth and easy to navigate, but at other times it has been extremely rocky and filled with obstacles that I have had to overcome to continue on my pilgrimage. Indeed at times I have enjoyed precious moments when I have had opportunity to rest for a bit from my travels as I have sat down in luscious green pastures. However, with the sweet, oftentimes comes the bitter, and at times I have traveled through some hot, dry, and dusty desserts seeking even just a cup of cool water to quench my dying thirst and cool shade to take shelter from the sweltering heat.

As I reflect upon these things I am reminded that no matter how rough the journey may seem at times, the Lord has been and continues to be right there beside me to guide my footsteps along the way. In times of loneliness and despair,  He is always there to comfort me. In the darkest of nights, He is my Guiding Star. When I grow tired and weary, He is there to give me rest and to carry me. Though the way may seem hard and at times I feel that I cannot go one more mile, I am ever reminded that there is absolutely nothing that is too hard for the Lord.

To us, who are mere mortals, oftentimes what lays before us seems to be mountains of impossibilities. With our human mind which is finite, and with our mortal vision, there are things which seem to us to be impossible to do. In our own mind and strength this is indeed the reality of the situation. And so, many times we are left with a feeling of defeat because in our mind’s eye, the tasks before us are too hard for us to master and to conquer.

Of a surety, the Lord’s ways are not our ways. His mind is infinite and His vision expands beyond the widest horizon. What may seem to be too hard for us, seems as mere insignificance to Him. There is absolutely nothing that He cannot do, except fail. There is nothing that is impossible or too hard for Him.

To truly be at a success at what we do in this life, we must take our focus off of what we believe to be impossibilities, and place our full and complete trust in Him who is able to make supposed impossibilities – living realities. Yes, all things are possible if we only believe. For again I say, there is absolutely nothing that is too hard for the Lord.

Take Some Time For Yourself

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Take some time for yourself

It proves unhealthy and unwise to want to dedicate our entire life to being concerned about the welfare of others and never taking any time to take care of our own well-being. If we do not take care of ourselves we will eventually find ourselves stressed out and burnt out, and of no real service to anyone else or even ourselves.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we need to pause, take a step back, review, and reevaluate the priorities of our life. There comes a time when we need to take control of our own life, and not allow others to always be the “driver of the bus,” taking us only to the places that they wish to go. There comes a time when we need to reassess our situation in life and start to realize that everyone’s “that” is not necessarily any more important than our “this.” In other words, there comes a time when we just need to say, “No! I am not doing “that.” I am doing “this” now. When I get the time, I will get to “that.” And when we do so, we not cower, but stand our ground.

Unfortunately there are people in this world who enjoy nothing more than placing undue demands on our time and resources. They attempt to use us as their proverbial puppets on a string, never considering, nor caring, how much undue stress they place upon us in trying to always satisfy their needs and wants. In all fairness, however, we must get to the point in our life when we begin to realize that all the stress that we experience in life is not always the direct fault of others. Much of the stress that we experience is directly related to the stress that we place on ourselves. As a result, it is often that stress that we put upon ourselves that eventually causes total burnout.

Therefore, it proves unselfish to want to take some time for ourselves and to take care of ourselves. In fact, it proves foolish not to do so so. Although we may have a heart’s desire to want to try to solve the world’s problems, and to always be there for everyone else, there comes a time when the person that we should be there for the most is ourselves.

We cannot spend our entire life thinking that we have to always be the “go to” person. We need to take off our proverbial capes, because try as some of us might, we are not super beings, we are human beings – mortals made of flesh and blood, with emotions and feelings. If we do not take care of ourselves, the hard cold reality is that most of the time, nobody else will.

It is a good thing to want to help and care for others, but in all that we do, we must remember to always take good care of ourselves.

Look After Yourself

Love One Another

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We All Need A Helping Hand

I sometimes feel that the biggest problems in the world today, especially among those in the Christian community, is that there is too much time and effort spent on criticizing, condemning, and judging other people because of their differences, and very little time, if any, spent on focusing on some of the commonalities that should unite us as brothers and sisters.

It is a wonderful thing that we have strong testimonies, but those testimonies do not make us any more holy or righteous than anyone else. What good is a strong testimony if that testimony does not somehow incorporate not only a sincere love for the Savior Himself, but also for all of His children – all of our brothers and sisters regardless of race, gender, background, culture, and YES, even sexual orientation?

The Savior Himself taught, “By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Furthermore, let us not forget that the scriptures emphatically teach us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1,2). James also teaches us:

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (James 4:11,12).

Therefore, the question before us is, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Love will always conquer more than tenacious judgment and pernicious condemnation of others ever will. We are not commanded to agree with a person’s beliefs or accept their doctrines, principles, or teachings about how we should live our lives. Furthermore, we are not commanded to accept another person’s lifestyle. However, we are commanded to love one another.

How can we honestly say that we love God, but hold malice, animosity, or indifference in our hearts towards our brothers and sisters because they hold different beliefs, or because they live a different lifestyle than our own? Are we so perfect ourselves that we can sit as judges of all Israel? Let us also be reminded that, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). If it were not for the love, grace, and mercy of the Lord, we who are quick to judge another would be in no better place than the one or ones whom we judge.

If we as Christians claim that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, then let us strive to meet together on common ground instead of on battle fields of hatred, blind mistrust, and misunderstanding, and show more love and compassion for ALL of our brothers and sisters. There is only one TRUE GOD and He is the Father of us ALL, and He loves us ALL equally and unconditionally.

When we finally begin to realize that the walls that seem to divide us are artificial and not God-made, and as we begin to dismantle those walls brick by brick instead of continuing to add mortar and more bricks to reinforce those walls, that will be the day when we will be able to sit down together at the banqueting table of brotherhood and sisterhood and live in peace and harmony with one another. That will be the day when we will truly understand what it means to love one another.

~ Keith Lionel Brown
15 April 2015

Love One Another

The Unstuck Record

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Depressed Woman

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

Ways to Get Unstuck

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.

Do Not Devalue Others

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Woman Taken in Adultery

Throughout the course of my life, I have been devalued by many people, including my own parents, and to this day I continue to devalue not only myself, but others as well. I have come to realize that I am in no place to devalue myself, let alone others, for we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

It is clear that discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation has all but become common place in our nation today. However, the fact remains that God is a God of inclusivity and not exclusivity, and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him.

Just because a person may not fit into the mold of what we or society may believe as “normal,” it does not give us a poetic license to devalue that person. Likewise, if our opinions differ from that of another person, we should not devalue that person and make them feel as though they are inferior or that their opinions are inconsequential.

It amazes me that some people who profess that they are followers of Jesus Christ, are some of the worse offenders of devaluing people. For example, let us examine the account of the woman who was found  guilty of adultery as recorded in John 8:3-7:

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

The account goes on to tell us that after the Master had given His response, those who would otherwise be this woman’s accusers, drop their stones and went their way realizing that because of the conviction in their own sinful hearts, they were in no place to devalue another. With no one but Himself and the woman remaining, He turns to her and asks, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). In modern-day vernacular, the question might be asked, “Where are those who have attempted to devalue you? Where have they gone?”

We must spend our lives edifying people instead of being quick to devalue them. Every person is a child of God. Thus, they deserve to be treated with self-worth, respect, and human dignity. We should be more inclusive and less exclusive in our thinking and treatment of others. We should heed the words spoken by the Master. Said He, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). If we are not careful, we may just find that our exclusivity might exclude ourselves from the Kingdom of God.

Karlyn Kay Stebbins
10 April 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.

Combating the Fires of Racial Unrest

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MLK Living on Earth as Brothers and Sisters

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.

 

We Are Not Lone Soldiers

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Lone Soldier

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.