Greetings, Gentle Reader,

Several decades ago a very old woman in a large Eastern city was evicted from her apartment. She was put out on the sidewalk with all her meager belongings. She seemed confused. She simply sat there on a chair, doing nothing, saying nothing.

The people walking by began to take her belongings. By the time the TV cameraman got there she appeared to have little left but the chair on which she sat.

This awful scene, observed from coast to coast, horrified the rest of America, but the people who passed by the old lady, as she was being robbed, seemed not to have taken any interest in her plight.

If this were to happen today, what would be the reaction of the people in America’s heartland? I would want them to be horrified, as we were back then. I would want someone to stand up to the predators and defend her. In fact, what I would like to see is some tall man in a military uniform take her under his arm and warn off all those who were preying on one so helpless.

That’s the America I know. That’s the America I have always loved. That’s the America I will love until the day I die, after which I will no doubt tell everyone in the Spirit World that America is the sweetest country on the face of the earth. And, yes, that’s the America I yearn for us to be, even when we fall short.

Can you imagine anyone in the rural Rocky Mountain West walking by such a scene, without doing something to help a confused old lady? I cannot.

The fact that she had been thrown out on the street, in her condition, was truly evil, but to have others strip her of everything she owned is beyond comprehension. It might well happen in a big city, but not in rural America, especially western America.

So, now to the big question. If those of you who live in big cities were to observe such a horrifying scene, what would you do? Think it over. Think through all the details. What would you do?

The people stealing from the old woman were not aggressive. They were not attacking her. They were simply taking everything a totally helpless old woman owned.

Would you defend her? Would you be sufficiently aggressive in her defense that the human trash preying on her would back off?

Sometimes we have to take a stand in defense of the helpless, but if we have never contemplated having to do so, there is a chance we would take no action. There is a silly commercial that says, "Life comes at you fast." The grammar may be wanting, but the concept is intact. Life does come at you "fast", so it pays to contemplate potential circumstances and decide how we would react to them before they happen. That is why the military drills and drills and drills. Anything less is an open invitation to failure, and failure means dead soldiers and Marines. It especially means death to those who fly airplanes at the speed of sound. So think it over. What would you do?

Somehow, we need to be prepared to defend the defenseless anytime their plight is put before us, but we need to do it without letting it sour us on our fellow humans. Our soldiers in Iraq must fight and kill, yet be ready to be kind to innocent Iraqis, especially the children, who are as much victims as are our soldiers.

We must be the same. We must fight for the weak when it is time to do so, but we must extend love when that is right.

The Lord needs a cheerful people. He wants them to be brave and willing to do what is needed, but we must be cheerful as well.

When our people came west, life was hard and not without danger, but at the end of the day, Brother Brigham wanted them to sing and dance. Why? Because it helped them to be cheerful. It helped them to like each other. It helped them to see each other’s good side. It reminded them that they were all in this together, and when a team all pulls the same way, they get the job done.

We can be strong and faithful. We can be brave and kind. Perhaps the hardest part is to defend the defenseless without becoming estranged from our fellow beings. By extrapolation, that means we must live with neighbors of different political persuasions, different races and different religions without ill will. It means we must behave as the Lord told us He wanted us to behave. The Book of Mormon calls it railing, and the Lord wants us not to do it.

Let us be determined to do as He commanded us.

Return to the Neighborhood.


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