Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Learning the Lessons of the Past

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Learning the Lessons of the Past, by Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

It is becoming apparent that I'm increasingly behind-the-times. I've never even sent a text message! Nevertheless, I've learned how to use many of the personal convenience items that have, in large measure, been developed and propagated in my lifetime: personal computers, GPS systems, iPods, modern vehicles, etc.

We've seen entire ways of living change in just the past thirty years (I'm starting to sound like a grandpa already!). As the view is expanded to the last fifty-, hundred-, even, say, 179 years, we see that the myriad technologies that make life what it is now were either non-existent or in their infancy less than two-hundred years ago. Elder Ballard agrees:

The 179 years that have passed since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized have been extraordinary by any measure. Never in recorded history has there been a period of such remarkable progress in terms of science and technology. These advances have helped to facilitate gospel growth and expansion throughout the world. But they have also contributed to the rise of materialism and self-indulgence and to the decline of morality.

This illustrates that there is "opposition in all things" (see 2 Ne. 2:11).

Maryann and I enjoyed (if you can call it that) a documentary on how the mismanagement of this remarkable progression is affecting the Earth. This video, Home, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (full film free on YouTube; link), is powerfully moving and helped me to see things in a new light. In fact, I thought of what I felt as I watched this film when I reviewed what Elder Ballard said:

If you are open and receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in your lives, you will understand the lessons of the past, and they will be burned into your souls by the power of your testimonies.

The application of this apostle's words applies to more than our global impact. The first reading of his words will likely evoke thoughts of morality—rightly so. Consider the following:

You don’t have to allow your community to become like Sodom or Gomorrah in order to understand that it isn’t a good place to raise a family.

Learning the lessons of the past allows you to walk boldly in the light without running the risk of stumbling in the darkness.

Facing the drastic changes in the morality and day-to-day living of the world sometimes makes me wonder what I can do. Can I respond appropriately when others' bad choices influence/affect the innocent? I hope I can. Even more, though, I want to make decisions that let me be my best self and positively influence others, too—including those whom I've never seen in far-off parts of the world.

Each one of you has to decide for yourself if you are going to ignore the past and suffer the painful mistakes and tragic pitfalls that have befallen previous generations, experiencing for yourself the devastating consequences of bad choices.

I'm grateful for the example of others—good and bad—because I know that if I can appropriately apply the lessons of the past, I can change myself and positively influence the world.

Here's the trailer for the documentary: Home

2 thoughts

Rockin Rowe's said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Maryann said...

As the world changes, I am thankful for the gospel and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. There is such peace.