lds.org blog post by Darius Gray—
Talking with one another about physical ailments such as colds, the flu, broken bones, and sprained joints can help us learn how to find healing. However, we also benefit when we address the challenges of incorrect thoughts and attitudes, including words and actions that harm others as well as ourselves.
Some have felt the sting of being considered “the other” or “the lesser.” It seems to me that such attitudes have increased in the world around us in recent years, perhaps due in part to the vitriolic language that has come to permeate political speech in various nations around the globe. Nothing could be further from the teachings of Jesus Christ than for any human being to think of himself or herself as somehow superior to another human being based upon race, sex, nationality, ethnic origins, economic circumstances, or other characteristics (see Quentin L. Cook, “The Eternal Everyday,” Ensign, Nov. 2017).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) spoke broadly to that topic in his address “The Need for Greater Kindness,” given in the general priesthood session of April 2006 general conference:
“I have wondered why there is so much hatred in the world. …
“Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. …
“… Racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. …
”Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Ensign, May 2006).
Racial and cultural bias is too widespread in the world. Sadly the practices associated with racism and prejudice have caused deep wounds for many.
As we endeavor to heal the wounds of racism, it is critically important to understand that negative ideas toward others based on racial or cultural differences hurt not only those who are the focus of such an attitude; they hurt the practitioner just as much, if not more. We are Christians, disciples of Christ, yet when we allow the attitudes of the world to infiltrate our minds to the point of blindness about their existence, we limit our progress toward that which our Father expects us to become, and we enter into a sin that often has lasting consequences.
Here are four steps each of us needs to take so that we can all move forward together in our efforts to reach our divine potential.
1. Acknowledge the Problem
Some people don’t recognize that a problem exists. Last fall, following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, involving white supremacists and counter-protestors, the Church issued two formal statements denouncing racism while advising members and others that they “should be troubled by the increase of intolerance in both words and actions that we see everywhere” (see “Church Issues Statements on Situation in Charlottesville, Virginia,” Aug. 13, 2017, mormonnewsroom.org).
The first step toward healing is the realization that the problem exists, even among some of us in the Church, as President Hinckley pointed out. We cannot fix that which we overlook or deny. Our attitudes toward others of a different race or of a different culture should not be considered a minor matter. Viewing them as such only affirms a willingness to stay unchanged.
Some of those attitudes seem to carry over from past beliefs given as speculations for why black male members of the Church couldn’t hold the priesthood from the mid-1800s to 1978.
I am black, an African-American convert who this year celebrates with millions of members the 40th anniversary of the priesthood being extended “to all worthy male members” (see Official Declaration 2). Since that time, Church leaders have fully disavowed past speculation for why the priesthood was withheld, including the notion of blacks being less valiant in the premortal existence. Unfortunately, racially insensitive comments and attitudes concerning persons of color have not all gone away yet.
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