Some years ago, an acquaintance of mine who was moving to
Each of us should pursue the occupation of “peace.” But what is peace, and how do we seek it?
Elder John A. Widtsoe said: “The only way to build a peaceful community is to build men and women who are lovers and makers of peace. Each individual, by that doctrine of Christ and His Church, holds in his own hands the peace of the world. That makes me responsible for the peace of the world, and makes you individually responsible for the peace of the world. The responsibility cannot be shifted to someone else. It cannot be placed upon the shoulders of Congress or Parliament, or any other organization of men with governing authority.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, p. 113.)
Each citizen furthers the cause of world peace when he or she keeps the commandments of God and lives at peace with family and neighbors. Such citizens are living the prayer expressed in the words of a popular song, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” (Sy Miller and Jill Jackson, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”)
Jesus Christ is our Savior. He has taught us the way to live. If we follow him and have goodwill toward all men, we can have peace on earth.
No peace, even though temporarily achieved, will be lasting unless it is built upon the solid foundation of such eternal principles as love of God, love of neighbor, love of self. Most men yearn for peace, cry for peace, pray for peace, and work for peace, but there will not be lasting peace until all mankind follow the path pointed out and walked by the living Christ. There can be no peace in sin and disobedience. If I do not have peace within me, others around me will suffer.
God has a special love for those of his children who promote and advocate peace. Our responsibility as Church members is to instill in an ever-growing number of people the fact that our personal attitudes and behavior can bring a measure of peace to our troubled world and a sense of stability to anxious times. With peace in our hearts we can know that the trends of the world and the criticisms of men cannot alter the truths of God.
When we properly blend into our lives true principles of love, honesty, respect, character, faith, and patience, peace will become our priceless possession. Peace is a triumph of correct principles.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “We live in a society that feeds on criticism. Faultfinding is the substance of columnists and commentators, and there is too much of this among our own people. It is so easy to find fault, and to resist doing so requires much discipline. … The enemy of truth would divide us and cultivate within us attitudes of criticism which, if permitted to prevail, will only deter us in the pursuit of our great divinely given goal. We cannot afford to permit it to happen” (Ensign, May 1982, p. 46).
Tolerance so often does lead to love. Most of our nearly 30,000 missionaries serving throughout the world would bear testimony to that, as would the thousands who have returned. What an inspired program, sending us as missionaries all over the world, where we personally confront different languages, often different dress, different customs, and different food. We arrive as strangers and foreigners, uncomfortable and very aware of differences, but with a precious message of restored truth to deliver. That message motivates us to look beyond the differences; and as we teach these strangers who they are—the children of our Heavenly Father, our own brothers and sisters in an eternal family—differences give way to kinship.
That knowledge also helps us in relationships where there are differences that do matter—differences involving values, principles, truth, and the confirming religious experience we call testimony. Truth demands our allegiance, but it should not be a barrier to tolerance and compassion and love. To accept and love others, we do not have to adopt their ideas or be condescending. When others differ from us in these essential matters, we must learn to see with eyes that separate people from their traditions or sins. Good people can have mistaken beliefs.
Moreover, having truth in our possession, knowing righteous and true principles, doesn’t automatically make a Latter-day Saint better or more righteous than others. It could have that effect—but it is living what we know, not knowing alone, that is really important. Joseph Smith taught us: “All the religious world is boasting of righteousness: It is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. … If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 241).
If we can learn patience, allowing all men the privilege of seeing truth at their own pace, we will have moved measurably toward the compassion and love of the Savior, who saw no enemies among his crucifiers. His example stands for all time to teach us the tender path from tolerance to compassion and perfect love. With every provocation to rage against his adversaries, he said rather, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32; italics added), thus offering himself on our behalf, that we might have room to repent. Can we do any less for our Father’s far-flung family?