This month’s tenet focuses on choices and their consequences, so I’ve paid close attention to this subject all month. Conditions in the world, our community, and my heart provided ample food for thought. For me, the answer to correctly exercising our freedom to choose boils down to Cinderella’s mantra, “have courage and be kind,” from the 2015 Disney film.
Boyd Matheson wrote a powerful editorial on the importance of supporting leaders with “political courage.” Such leaders are those willing to risk losing power, an election, or inclusion to follow their convictions of right and wrong–to stand for those who can’t stand for themselves. Of course, such courage is essential for each of us and even more vital in our relationships in our homes, our neighborhoods, and the expanse of our entire circle of influence.
This courage can only be manifest with kindness as we acknowledge others’ right to choose and allow them the privilege to do so. A leader of my faith, Quentin L. Cook, pointed out, “How we disagree is a real measure of who we are and if we truly follow the Savior.”
This is easier said than done. If I’m honest, I must admit my blood pressure rises when I encounter angry accusations and positions that oppose my own. But when I open my heart and mind to listen and seek to understand, I can usually find some common ground, empathy, or mistaken beliefs I’ve developed.
For years, my local newspaper has featured a weekly exchange between two men with widely divergent political opinions. The two of them disagree so civilly, with humor and obvious regard for each other, that over the years I found myself looking at ideas that veered from my black-and-white, all-or-nothing views on many important issues of the day. There was passion and logic from the “other side” that I could not dismiss. I looked forward to this weekly opportunity to broaden my horizons and look at issues through a more balanced lens. I should take up that habit once more. Again, this kinder view is important every day and in every encounter.
This month’s Currents underscores our freedom of choice and its attendant responsibilities. Rebekah encourages us to have courage to be informed voters and to take a stand on issues that matter; Lisa points out we can choose to be victims or to find victory through loving others and allowing them to choose their path. Vilma’s life story illustrates how our faith can help us choose to both have courage and be kind. Shelli shares lessons she hopes her family learned in a recent study of civics. Ana from our new Ecuador Cottage pinpoints a courageous choice she made at age 12 that opened the door to education and opportunities to serve her community. Finally, new author Marci uses a favorite work of art to emphasize how our daily decisions and goals help us create masterpieces of our lives.