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Jodi Maxfield|Nov. 29, 2016 You might recall in the beloved Dr. Seuss children’s book Horton Hears a Who! how Horton, who was an elephant, had a chance encounter with a speck of dust, from whence a voice, barely audible, called out for help. Horton recognized that the voice was coming from the speck of dust and proceeded to do all he could to protect and defend this colony of Whos, who were “too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes.” Horton perceived that someone was in distress and realized that he could help. Instead of discounting his newly discovered friends, and amidst scoffs and scorn from others, he did all he could to give aid. He had a clear understanding of his ability to rescue and protect the Who colony. Through his actions he demonstrated his ability to give aid, share his light, and serve. As Horton exclaimed, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Being Grateful Having just celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, and as we transition from November into the month of December and celebrate the birth of our beloved Savior, it seems particularly natural that gratitude has taken center stage in our minds and in our hearts—as it should. No matter how humble and meager our circumstances, we each have so much to be grateful for. President Thomas S. Monson said of gratitude: To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven. [“The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” Ensign, November 2010] He also said: We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. [“Divine Gift”] Gratitude is an expression of our faith. Negativity most certainly breeds despair, depression, lack of enthusiasm, and critical analysis of that which is most likely not our right to criticize or judge. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in a devotional address on gratitude given at BYU, said: Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable. . . . Gratitude is a commandment of the Father. [“Live in Thanksgiving Daily,” BYU devotional address, 31 October 2000] Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 reads, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” While it may be more challenging to feel grateful when we are in the throes of trials and disappointments, those are the very times when we need to stop, take a look around, and count and list our blessings one by one. It has not been surprising to me throughout my life how
Su Ge|Apr. 21, 2016 Dear Elder Clayton, President Worthen, faculty, fellow students, and friends: two months ago President Worthen kindly informed me of an invitation to receive an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of “outstanding life and contribution to society and the world.” Aware that this is the highest honor that the university confers on individuals, I replied in my email, “With full appreciation in my heart, the only uneasiness in mind is whether I have done enough to deserve this singular honor.” Then my daughter exclaimed, “What? I always thought that honorary doctorates were given only to people without a PhD!” This is not only my own honor but recognition for the work of all Chinese students at the Y, past and present. I first came to BYU on an exchange program between the College of Humanities and the Xi’an Foreign Language Institute. Then a BYU scholarship enabled me to pursue my further studies. Therefore, it may also be regarded as a little fruit of educational exchange between China and the United States. As the Chinese saying goes, “Whenever one drinks water, he must not forget those who dug the well.” Coming to mind is a microcosm of BYU faculty, including Erlend Peterson, Todd Britsch, Frank Fox, and Paul Hyer—now with friendship extended on by his son Eric. Also, I want to include Marshall Craig, Briant Jacobs, Ray Hillam, Spencer Palmer, and others who have passed away but who will forever live deep in my heart. Last but not least is Neil York, the mentor for both my MA and PhD programs. All in all, my heartfelt appreciation goes to my alma mater—in Chinese, “the mother school.” For my assigned speaking time, President Worthen advised me, “As our graduates will be going out into an increasingly global world, any connection you make between their BYU experience and what they will likely encounter in that global world will be valuable to them.” Indeed, the world is undergoing complicated and profound changes. In an age of peace and development, both globalization and multipolarity continue to deepen. Nontraditional security challenges keep rising amidst traditional problems. Interdependence and connectivity make international relations no longer a zero-sum game. Global governance calls for international cooperation and, I emphasize, talents. To recall my experience, the BYU motto “Go forth to serve” has exerted boundless inspiration, courage, and guidance. The elapse of time has only accumulated understanding and appreciation of its meaning and significance. First, “go forth to serve” could mean confidence and dedication in the pursuit of one’s undertaking. In my case, I have always had a strong belief in the need for a constructive and cooperative Sino-American relationship. In this new century it is vitally important for the United States and China to build up a new type of relationship between major countries based
Dallin H. Oaks|Aug. 13, 2015 My dear brothers and sisters, a commencement exercise is a happy time for graduates, for parents, for friends, for teachers, and for the administration. It is a time to celebrate past accomplishments and to certify graduates’ progress from one status to another. For them, it is a rite of passage, like a christening, a baptismal service, a coming-out party, or a wedding reception. But the gaining of knowledge and skills is an incomplete view of the significance of education. Of even greater importance is the question of how those attainments are to be used. That is the question sought to be answered by graduation speakers. Our function, as one has said, is “to hold you here long enough to let solemnity sink in.”1 I. You graduate in challenging times: wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and the prospects of financial disasters. More important, values and standards honored for thousands of years are now being denied or cast aside. Selfishness is replacing service. The fundamental freedoms of speech and religion are being questioned. Evil is being called good and good is being called evil. Though men’s hearts are failing them, you should take heart. There have always been challenging times. We, the generations of your predecessors, have survived daunting challenges, and so will you. The answer to all of these challenges is the same as it has always been. We have a Savior, and He has taught us what we should do. At the conclusion of His earthly ministry He declared: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As His witness I testify that His teachings are true and that the way He has marked out is the way to peace in this world and everlasting life in the world to come. II. Foremost among the things you should remember from your years at BYU are the teachings you have received about the things of eternity and the principles of right and wrong that have been up front in your religion classes and pervasive in many others. At Brigham Young University we like to quote the teachings of the founder, President Brigham Young. He spoke as an extraordinarily wise leader and he also spoke as a prophet. He taught this about the purpose of education in the gospel of Jesus Christ: All our educational pursuits are in the service of God, for all these labors are to establish truth on the earth, and that we may increase in knowledge, wisdom, understanding in the power of faith and in the wisdom of God, that we may become fit subjects to dwell in a higher state of existence and intelligence than we now enjoy.2 In teaching the Saints how to conduct their lives in harmony with the gospel in a world that pursues other values, Brigham Young said: The man or woman who enjoys the spirit o
Sondra Heaston|June 23, 2015 The heart is a vital organ necessary to maintain life. The heart rate, also known as the pulse rate, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. In order for your body to function properly, it is important to have a continuous, regular, and strong pulse. With certain variations in the pulse, you may become sick and unable to function. Elder Marvin J. Ashton, in a general conference talk from October 1988, taught that the Lord measures an individual’s heart as an indicator of that person’s capacity and potential to bless others. In his words: Why the heart? Because the heart is a synonym for one’s entire makeup. We often use phrases about the heart to describe the total person. Thus, we describe people as being “big-hearted” or “goodhearted” or having a “heart of gold.” Or we speak of people with faint hearts, wise hearts, pure hearts, willing hearts, deceitful hearts, conniving hearts, courageous hearts, cold hearts, hearts of stone, or selfish hearts. The measure of our hearts is the measure of our total performance. As used by the Lord, the “heart” of a person describes his effort to better self, or others, or the conditions he confronts. [“The Measure of Our Hearts,” Ensign, November 1988, 15] I recently saw a Facebook post from a wonderful friend who is a nursing student in Indiana. She had posted a video that had been presented by Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, for his 2012 state-of-the-clinic address. The video really touched my heart and helped me to evaluate how I truly see and value others. I would like to share that video with you in the hope that it will do for you what it did for me and will start you thinking about the state of your heart. [A video was shown: Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care, youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8.] What if we could really see into each other’s hearts? Would we understand each other better? By feeling what others feel, seeing what others see, and hearing what others hear, would we make, and take, the time to serve others, and would we treat them differently? Would we treat them with more patience, more kindness, and more tolerance? A quote from Henry David Thoreau suggests that trying to see into each other’s hearts could truly be something that could benefit our heart health: “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” (Walden , I, “Economy”). While we may all look at things differently, our hearts beat with many of the same dreams. The 2015 Mutual theme, as found in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, states: Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. This scripture teaches us that in order to stand blameless before God at the last day, not only
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