Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can Ye Feel So Now

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Can Ye Feel So Now, by Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

What do you envision when you picture a jungle village? Can you see the huts with thatch roofs? Do you perhaps hear animal sounds in the distance? The idea of a jungle village may also carry a sense of isolation—of supplies and information coming by way of long circuitous routes on windy roads and long river stretches.

While physical supplies may still take the long route, information is becoming more readily available in every corner of the world (and yes, I know the world is a sphere without "corners"). Elder Cook told of a visit he and President Uchtdorf made to an Amazon jungle village where they saw satellite dishes on "small, simply built huts." Now the jungle-themed quote of my childhood cartoons may come via email or text message: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

NOTE: I found the above picture at this blog, so it's apparently a real thing to have satellite dishes near huts—this one is in Australasia.

What do you think about digital information availability worldwide? Here's what Elder Cook said:

We rejoiced at the wonderful information available in this remote area. We also recognized there is virtually no place on earth that cannot be impacted by salacious, immoral, and titillating images. This is one reason why pornography has become such a plague in our day.

I saw an article recently (link) that told of efforts in South Korea to remove online pornography—which is illegal there. The article has descriptions I want to forget, but I do remember the summary of the efforts:

It's like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Living in South Florida, I feel somewhat removed from snow-related analogies. But the message is clear: the job of preventing unwanted material seems endless and even futile at times.

What can be done? The jungle village satellite dish story suggests that the "blizzard" can find you anywhere on earth—even in the Amazon!

While it may be a bit of a leap from pornography and other salacious material to societal civility, I'm going to jump anyway! Here's something from Elder Cook:

The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish.

Take-home message: Be nice at home, even if you live in a jungle hut; your immediate influence of love needs to outweigh any other messages that may find their inside.

But is being nice enough? Is there a need to directly confront issues, even if it's awkward?

Here's some counsel:

Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family.

I work with the children at church (in Primary: children up to age twelve). As strange as it was to visualize satellite dishes on jungle huts, I was similarly taken aback when I saw how many young children are using smartphones and other handheld Internet-accessible devices at church (and presumably at home and school). I agree with Elder Cook that "before youth graduate from Primary is not to early" to start "teaching and protecting against pornography and impure thoughts."

The "digital creep" is pushing across the globe and into younger and younger hands/minds. In my notes from conference, I put a star next to two things from this talk:
  • Be nice at home!
  • Teach children before graduating Primary

I love that my children have ready access to information, education, and entertainment, but I want to help them stay clean, pure, and happy!

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