On my way back from an intense trip to California this week, I had the privilege of sitting next to a young man from Boston. After a few brief words, I knew this was somebody unusual, incredibly promising, and wholesome. His father is a doctor and a faithful Catholic who has been very active with missionary work, running mission efforts in a variety of countries and getting his whole family involved. The young man spoke glowingly of his father’s work, and of his own positive experiences helping out. He also spoke lovingly and highly of his mother, who had sacrificed much to raise a family of seven children. The respect this young man had for his parents was inspiring.
He was preparing to start college on the east coast. We talked about some of the moral challenges that college life presents, and I was pleased to see that this young man was prepared and alert. He said he was glad he was living off-campus with family rather than being in the co-ed dorms, and that his parents were very involved in kindly helping the children stay out of trouble even after they had left home.
He is planning to become a foreign ambassador one day and seeks to make a big difference in the world. I bet he will.
There are many fine young people like this one, men and women with great foundations in life, a burning faith, a desire to do great things, and high moral standards. They are there! And some are making changes that will bring them to that path. These noble young people can be found among many faiths. I like to think that there are a lot among the Latter-day Saints, but we have plenty of our own challenges, to be sure. But wherever they are, of whatever faith, it inspires me and gives me hope for the future to meet noble youth and talk with them and realize how much goodness there is out there – tools in the Lord’s hands to do much good.
May we enable the way and help the gems of the rising generation to grow and be strong for the burdens ahead – or at least stay out of their way.
13 thoughts on “Hope for the World: Noble Youth”
You make a good point. I think the world view of LDS folks is that we are in our ivory towers thinking we are better than anyone else. We know that others not of our faith also pray, attend worship services, perform charity work, read scriptures and are fantastic people.
(Sometimes there are those LDS folks that ruin it for the rest of us by scoffing at others beliefs but let it be known that we are taught to respect others beliefs and to love our neighbor.)
I hope that my wife and I can teach our 3 sons well enough and they accept that teaching so someone will be impressed by my 3 sons when they grow up.
LDS people are sometimes very rude and on occasion nasty in their discussions of other faiths. Mormanity, thanks for recognizing the Catholic young man. The world is full of wonderful young people.
My son entering high school this week has two non-LDS friends who also live by high standards and whose parents are serious about following the teachings of Jesus Christ (one family is Catholic, the other evangelical Protestant). I’m glad to see some positive words written about people like them. I truly believe in our church and believe that our youth programs are guided by inspiration, but we aren’t the only ones out there doing good things for the upcoming generations.
I agree wholeheartedly that there are many good people that have much faith and much to contribute from a wide variety of denominations. Many colleagues at work and friends from my schooldays come to mind. While we don’t always see eye to eye on every doctrinal issue, I have felt good (felt the Spirit) in religious conversations about the many subjects on which we do agree. I am also encouraged as they try their very best (as I do myself) to follow the Savior, teach their children to do good, and improve the communities in which they live.
I had a course in comparitive Christian religions at the LDS institute while I was in grad school. The instructor had spent considerable time talking with pastors and ministers of other faiths and trying to understand their beliefs. The course really opened my eyes to many of the similarities between religions. I also saw some of the differences in underlying worldviews that may explain why LDS beliefs sometimes feel threatening to those of other faiths – although we don’t intend them to be threatening when we share them. I have since tried to approach my conversations with colleagues and friends with that perspective and to first understand their beliefs and background. The results have been very rewarding.
Liked your very last few words, Jeff, “Or stay out of their way”. Even the most nobly-inspired parents must learn, and know, when to step aside!
Thanks for this post, as my daughter begins her first year of seminary as a Senior in high school, and her sweetheart begins his first year at BYU.
Yeah, us youth are pretty cool… 😉
Growing up in the Mormon church, I was imbued with the sense that those within the Church were “good” people, those outside were something less – “non”-members who probably couldn’t live up to the “high” standards that we were taught…all we had to do was look at the externals (grooming, do they drink coffee?, do they drop the occasional “God”)…
…personal experience taught me that those outside the church were more likely to be truly “good”, and on balance, more honest and ethical, than those who wore the Mormon uniform of short hair, white shirts, and outward piety…
…the fact that you feel compelled to show your own open-mindedness (and dare I say surprise?) that non-Mormons also pray, attend services, and perform charity work is a sign that you still have a long way to go.
…the curse of Mormonism is its mental conformity and focus on the superficial externalities – meanwhile deep learning and relationships with non-members are missed by those encouraged to be active “within the church”…
“the fact that you feel compelled to show your own open-mindedness”
I figured the next post would be provocative; the debate had sort of lulled.
The problem here is that your statement is unfalsifiable; no matter what we say, the response will be “Well, that’s what you WOULD say if…” If you want to believe that we’re closed minded and think everyone else is a heathan, well, there’s nothing any of us can do to stop you.
That said, the reason Jeff tells us about his “open-mindedness” is because we get flack about it and it isn’t (always) deserved. I don’t believe he is pulling some kind of Freudian reaction formation against one’s own fears of intolerance. He’s just handling PR issues; as I say, every member a church spokesperson.
I just started grad. school at a state run institution, FAR removed from Mormondom. I am impressed with the faculty; they’re kind people with good social virtues, yet most of them are secularists. I am in the place of the publican in Christ’s parable. All I can say is “God, forgive me a sinner–I do not what I know.” I am around coffee drinkers, beer drinkers often–am I in a position to call these people, some of whom facilitated my entrance into school, any less?
But think as you will. Just remember that you might live a more loving life if you reassess your tendency to make assumptions about other people in general, not just Mormons.
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The funny thing is that Jeff didn’t even make “LDS vs non-LDS” an issue in this blog. It’s not like he said “whoa! This guy was a good person and he WASN’T EVEN LDS! How remarkable!”
The whole point of the blog was really to highlight younger folk who seem to have their heads on straight, since the general perception seems to be that this generation is a bunch of lazy videogame-addicted lunatics.
Russell (8:53 PM, August 30, 2007),
I’m a convert to the church, and it didn’t take me too long to notice things along the lines that Bill (8:05 PM, August 30, 2007) mentions.
I would not characterize Bill’s observations as universally true throughout the church, but there’s enough of it, especially among the active youth and young adults, that it is noticeable.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the emphasis on commandment-keeping and outward appearances directed at the youth produces a degree of Pharisaism in some.
Then take all the church programs whose time-consuming nature creates a degree of insularity: youth programs, YSA activities, home-teaching, visiting-teaching, callings, etc., and then combine that with some parents who don’t want their children to play with or associate with non-members (and in some cases not even with inactive members) and it can produce the arrogance Bill decries.
Some guys lose that arrogance by the end of their mission. But others it takes a little longer. And unfortunately, some keep it and pass it along to the next generation.
The church is still true. God is doing the best he can with the humans he has available to work with.
I see what you mean. And I would by lying if I said that I had never met any of these hardline members. I just talked to one the other night.
However, in my experience, they’re so out-of-the-ordinary, such an aberration, that I can’t help but think that those who make an issue of it, well (pardon the allusion–it’s unintended) strain at a gnat.
Elder Maxwell did say that absolute truth sometimes brings about behavioral abnormalities. So I agree–if Christ himself said only God is good, then who are we to say we are anywhere close?
Bill, I’m sorry my comments made you feel compelled to display your own post-dissociative projective identification complex modulated by a displaced compromise formation, if you know what I mean.
Just felt compelled to say that, too.