Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just Two Syllables

This incident happened over twenty years ago but I’ll never forget what it taught me. One of our daughters told me about something that happened at her school right around the time of General Conference. Well, I remembered that conference, the Prophet’s counsel, and my raggedy old convert questions about it. One of the main points of his message was this. He said that we should all be nice. He said we needed to be friendly.

When I heard his words I was a little taken aback. I thought, “Nice and friendly are good things but are they really of eternal importance.” I believed that the prophet spoke for Heavenly Father, being inspired by Him to tell us what we needed to do. Here we were, in this crazy world, all kinds of problems everywhere and what Heavenly Father wants from his children is for them to “Be nice?” How could that be of eternal importance? How could that make any real change in peoples’ lives. Millions were listening all over the world. I expected something a little more monumental.

Thankfully, by now I’d had enough experience as a member of the church to know that if I questioned what the Prophet or an apostle taught us, there was something I was missing. So I sat down to think. Then I got up and tried to be nicer and waited for understanding. It came that very week as I was picking up our daughter after school.

As she got in the car I could tell she was upset about something. It was 17 miles home from the high school so there was plenty of time to talk. She wanted to talk. It seems there was a new girl at school. Kelley was showing her around. This girl had moved from the big city. She was not a member of the church in a small town where many of the kids were, and was shy and introverted by nature. She was sweet and trying to adjust to her new life. Kell and some of the other girls were trying to make her feel at home and welcome.

Just about all of the Mormon kids went to seminary in a small building across the high school parking lot. After a few days, her new friend started to wait for Kelley after the period when she had seminary. They both had math next so she waited on the sidewalk so they could walk together. The new girl had questions. What was this little building where so many kids took classes? What’s seminary? What do they teach in seminary? Then, “What church is this?” And then, “What do Mormons believe?” Kelley was excited because she felt this young woman was a special spirit and may be searching for the truth. She began to explain things to her and was getting ready to invite her to Mutual.

Well, one day as she was coming down the steps of the seminary building, a group of guys were walking just ahead of her. These were among the most popular guys in school. Most of them football and basketball stars, they were the “hunkiest jocks” of all. Half the girls in school were crazy over them. Great kids too, each one active in the church, from fine families, headed for missions most probably.

The guys proceeded across the way, laughing and joking the way boys do. They came to the sidewalk by the school where the new girl was waiting. The most handsome jock of all, the most popular guy at school was at the front and as he approached this sweet, shy, girl he said laughingly,

“Move Ho!”

All the other guys laughed as they went on their way to class.

Our daughter was still on the steps of the seminary and could see her friend’s face as the boys passed. She saw the blush of embarrassment and hurt. She said she’ll never forget it because she knew right then that there would not be any more questions about what all the kids were learning in that little building, or what do Mormons believe.

Just two syllables of “not nice.” Could something that small be important? Could it be of eternal significance even? Could it change somebody’s life? Could one person finding the truth make the world a different place? Think about it.

I’m sure those boys meant no harm. They were fine, valiant, sons of Heavenly Father. They were just fooling around being boys. I’ve done the same thoughtless kind of thing myself I’m sure. But what they said on that day wasn’t nice. It wasn’t friendly. And maybe it was important.

So……a Prophet said that Heavenly Father wants us to be nice to each other… be friendly. Well, what if, for just one day even, everyone in the entire world were nice to everyone else. No unkindness, no rudeness, no cruelty, no selfishness, no “me first.” Just “Let me help you with that,” and “Wait, I’ll hold the door for you.” Everyone….everywhere….all over the planet……nice to each other…….smiling and friendly. What would that do? Could something that simple possibly be of eternal importance?

Think about a world like that.