Choir Notes

Cultivate an Attitude of Understanding
From Music and The Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4114

For centuries, people have separated each other by setting up barriers and boundaries—the divisions we call “us” and “them.” In our interconnected society, we interact almost daily with people whose heritage, religion, skin color, gender, language, or choices are different from ours. The challenge lies in how we treat each other when we have little in common except our humanity.

Small children seem to be especially good at this. When you smile at a child, she smiles back. When you make a face, she giggles. When you wave good-bye, she waves too. Barriers disappear in this simple, satisfying exchange. Perhaps children haven’t yet learned to see those barriers. Or maybe they see more clearly what’s really important.

Anne Frank, a child herself and a victim of persecution because of her heritage, wrote that “we’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same.”1

“I still believe,” she observed, “in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”2

Accepting one another—no matter our differences—is a measure of our character and our hearts. Acceptance is not about changing “us” or “them”; it’s about a friendly gesture, a smile, an appreciation for interesting company or new ideas. It is learning to accept others despite mistakes, weaknesses, or bad choices and still loving them for who they are. Acceptance comes more easily when we are at peace, confident of our own place, our beliefs and direction.

“Cultivate an attitude of understanding, and come to genuinely like people,” religious leader Thomas S. Monson has said. “I’ve rarely met a person that I didn’t want to get to know better. ... It doesn’t matter who they are.”3

1 The Diary of a Young Girl, ed. Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler, trans. Susan Massotty (1991), 324.
2 The Diary of a Young Girl, 332.
3 In Gerry Avant, “Church President to Be Sustained in Solemn Assembly,” Church News, April 5, 2008, 4.

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