Choir Notes

By the Side of the Road
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4335

Life is more satisfying and enjoyable when we chose to see the good in others. While we all have our share of shortcomings, there is in each of us an abundance of goodness to celebrate. Wise people choose to focus on others’ strengths rather than dwell on their weaknesses.
Years ago, Sam Walter Foss wrote a poem that captures this sentiment well:
Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.1 
When we choose an attitude of friendship rather than faultfinding, we surround ourselves with colleagues rather than competitors. It’s easy to cast stones, hold grudges and deride others; it takes more effort to forgive, to commend, and to love. But the dividends are well worth the investment. Think what would happen if we lived in a world of fewer critics and more friends, where people gave each other the benefit of the doubt.
Gordon B. Hinckley, a beloved religious leader who lived well into his 90s, explained that somehow this gets easier over time. He said: "Age does something to a man. It seems to make him more aware of the need for kindness and goodness and forbearance. He wishes and prays that men might live together in peace without war and contention, argument and conflict.”2
Life is hard and mean enough. Each of us has a place "by the side of the road,” where we can choose today to "be a friend” and look for the good in others, and thereby replace the scorn and cynicism of the day with encouragement and hope.
1 In Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations, ed. Suzy Platt (1993), 136.
2 "Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 81.

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