Monday, February 7, 2011

Let There Be Light!

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Let There Be Light!, by Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

As I rode to work in the dark hours this morning, my attention kept drifting to the many city lights that I could see nearby and in the distance. I was reminded of the difference between looking up at the night sky in Chicago and middle-of-nowhere Idaho. While both star-gazing sessions were done in the dark of night, the light pollution from the big city made the majority of stars disappear near Chicago; I love seeing the Milky Way when I'm far enough away. In fact, when we visited my brother-in-law in Flagstaff, AZ, I learned that it was the first city to become an International Dark-Sky Community (link).

If you look at the earth from above at night, it's amazing the city-centers that are apparent simply by their light! Can you see your city in this map?

In his address, Elder Cook spoke of the bombing raids over British cities during World War II, where as a defense, the lights were darkened. "You can't hit what you can't see" isn't just a clever comment made by superheroes who move amazingly fast! In fact, he mentioned a song by Vera Lynn, "When the Lights Go on Again (All over the World)," that "reflected an optimistic hope that freedom and light would be restored.

Recent forays into family history have given me an increased awareness of the perils of war. The bulk of this impacted me as I saw a picture of my paternal grandfather in his military uniform, prior to shipping of to Italy to fight in WWII.

As many brave and valiant individuals fought for freedom and light, we too may feel like we are living in a battlefield. In fact, there seems to be a pessimism permeating the news and other media outlets. Despite this, Elder Cook speaks of his optimism that "light and truth will be preserved in our time." He also said, "some observers believe there is actually a global revival of faith."

You may argue against this because so much of what is heard and reported on is of the negative or God-less flavor. It's important to remember that "the power and influence of [evil and evil people] is very large even if they are relatively small in number. . . Still, the majority of people aspire to be good and honorable." (see Mosiah 29:26-27).

What can we do when so much time and attention is placed on the fringe—on the loud minority? Elder Cook has a point to make here:

Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded. . . Let me be clear that all voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced.

Here's my take on all of this: Although the view of the night sky is different between Chicago and farmville, Idaho, the stars themselves still exist and shine brilliantly regardless of the interference between them and our eyes. As Vera Lynn sang optimistically of a time when there would once again be light, we too can "do our best to preserve light and protect our families."

Yes, there will be loud voices that cry for our beliefs to be silenced, but we, too, deserve to have our voices heard! Remember the picture of the dark earth and its bright spots of light pollution? To me, this is a great analogy to people in general: the vocal minority fighting against what is right and good can be compared to those bright spots on the map (where you can't properly see the night sky). While the lights get our attention, they do not cover the earth. We should take comfort that "the majority of people are still respectful of basic moral values," but we shouldn't sit by, silently believing that we are alone.

As we climb the steps of the public square, it may be difficult and scary to speak for what we believe and know to be right; however, as we stand for what is right, we'll find that the view is beautiful, and more light can be seen and enjoyed!

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