Kristen’s excellent post yesterday on teaching children compassion reminded me of a subject I have been thinking about lately. I saw the greatest ad on BYU TV recently. Some nerdy kid in a high school hallway scene had his books and papers spilled all over the floor by a passing bully. A big strapping athlete kid was nearby hanging with his jock and cheerleader friends and noticed it. He paused for a minute then went over to help the nerdy kid pick up his books. For some reason I found it touching (clichï¿½s and all). There is something very powerful and moving about seeing the strong help the weak simply out of compassion.
Through Joseph Smith the Lord said:
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
There you have it. The minute we become strong in any way it is the most natural thing in the world for us to abuse our power. What do naturally use our power for? – To attain the things of this world and the honors of men. Going out of our way to lift or assist or be kind to someone that is weaker than us is just an unnatural thing to do in this world.
I have decided that one of the final steps in our eternal progression to becoming Godlike will be our developing the ability to properly manage and utilize our power. That is why the law of consecration is the ultimate law for the saints. It tells us “be strong, be brilliant, be rich, be talented, but don’t use any of it to help you attain the honors of men or consume the things of this world – use it to strengthen the feeble knees of the weak.”
So being strong is what naturally pushes us to be devils. But being strong is also what allows is to act the part of angels in life.
Two quick stories:
When I was about nine or ten there was this pathetic kid that lived down the street from us. He was a couple of years younger than me and was a mess. Dirty, disheveled, unattractive, backwards. Worst of all he always seemed to have a running nose with dried snot always present on his face. I, being the clever, dashing and popular kid that I was at the time in rural Oregon, dubbed this kid “Booger-nose”. The name stuck and that whole year we simply referred to this kid as booger-nose. I don’t even know what his real name was.
I look back and think of the little trailer he lived in. I realize he probably had a sinus infection and his family had no access to the antibiotics required to get him past it. He was weak, I was strong, and I made his life just a little more miserable… I anguish over that nickname I gave this poor kid to this day. Oh what I would give to go back and lift him and comfort him rather than grind him further into the ground. It is a cross of shame I will have to bear in my life. The only thing I can do about it now is allow the memory to remind me to try to never be thoughtless or cruel to the weak again.
Fast forward a couple of years…
I am now back in my birthplace, Southern California. I am a chubby seventh grader who is several years behind everyone else in styles and trends. I went from being a popular sixth grader in the boonies of Oregon to being an obscure, picked-on, uncool new kid with no friends in the suburbs of San Diego. Those were the darkest years of my life. But I remember one kid from that year. His name was Grant. He was a tall, handsome, popular eighth grader who happened to be in my ward. All I remember was that this socially powerful kid treated me respectfully and kindly in front of other people. It meant the world to me. I was weak and vulnerable and he lifted me up, befriended me, treated me with kindness, and strengthened my feeble knees. I will eternally be grateful for that kind eighth grader.
In that noble boy Grant I had found a hero and exemplar. It was later in life that I more fully recognized that Grant was simply following in the footsteps of our Great Exemplar.
When have you been strong or weak? What abuse or compassion have you administered or received?