A breath of wind from the wings of madness
1 universe,9 planets,204 countries,809 islands,7 seas, and i had the privilige to meet you <3
I believe a basic test exists of our capacity to learn and the measure of our love of learning. Here is the test: When you and I do not know what to do or how to proceed to achieve a particular outcome—when we are confronted with a problem that has no clear answer and no prescribed pattern for resolution—how do we learn what to do?
This was precisely the situation in which Nephi found himself as he was commanded to build a ship. “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8).
Nephi was not a sailor. He had been reared in Jerusalem, an inland city, rather than along the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. It seems unlikely that he knew much about or had experience with the tools and skills necessary to build a ship. He may not have ever previously seen an oceangoing vessel. In essence, then, Nephi was commanded and instructed to build something he had never built before in order to go someplace he had never been before.
Now I doubt any of us will be commanded to build a ship as was Nephi, but each of us will have our spiritual and learning capabilities tested over and over and over again. The ever-accelerating rate of change in our modern world will force us into uncharted territory and demanding circumstances.
For example, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s graduates will have between 10 and 14 different jobs—by the time they are 38 years old. And the necessary skills to perform successfully in each job assignment will constantly change and evolve.
For much of my career as a professor, there was no Internet, no Google, no Wikipedia, no YouTube, and no TelePresence. The Internet only began to be widely used by the general public in the mid-1990s. Prior to that time, no courses were taught about and no majors were offered in Internet-related subjects. I remember teaching myself HTML and experimenting with ways student learning could be enhanced through this new and emerging technology. In contrast, most of you have never known and cannot imagine a world without the Internet and its associated technologies. I know I am revealing my advanced age, but the change from my “no Internet world” to your “Internet only world” has occurred within the last 15 years. Can we even begin to imagine how much things will continue to change during the next 15 years?
Because vast amounts of information are so readily available and sophisticated technologies make possible widespread and even global collaboration, we may be prone to put our trust in “the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34; see also 28:31) as we grapple with complex challenges and problems. We perhaps might be inclined to rely primarily upon our individual and collective capacity to reason, to innovate, to plan, and to execute. Certainly we must use our God-given abilities to the fullest, employ our best efforts, and exercise appropriate judgment as we encounter the opportunities of life. But our mortal best is never enough.
President Brigham Young testified that we are never left alone or on our own:
My knowledge is, if you will follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, every man and woman will be put in possession of the Holy Ghost. . . . They will know things that are, that will be, and that have been. They will understand things in heaven, things on the earth, and things under the earth, things of time, and things of eternity, according to their several callings and capacities. [JD 1:243]
Whenever I approach this campus, there is something special that stirs within my soul. There is always a freshness, an air of growth and of development. A feeling of significant activity is in the air. There is almost an aroma of new beginnings, of goals made and in the process of being attained, of maturing careers, and of powerfully developing spirits.
If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.
If there is one lament I cannot abide—and I hear it from adults as well as students—it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, ‘Well, that’s just the way I am.’ If you want to talk about discouragement, that is one thing that discourages me. Though not a swearing man I am always sorely tempted to try my hand when hearing that. Please spare me your speeches about ‘that’s just the way I am.’ I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology.
Come to the temple and place your burdens before the Lord and you’ll be filled with a new spirit and confidence in the future. Trust in the Lord, and if you do He’ll hold you and cradle you and lead you step by step along that pathway that leads to the celestial kingdom of God.
We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.
Prison Warden Kenyon J. Scudder has told this story:
He happened to be sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the man revealed that he was a convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame on his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.
To make it easy for them, however, he had written them to put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him and felt that he could rebuild his life in his own home and own town, they were to put a white ribbon in the upper branch of the apple tree located in the lower pasture near the railroad tracks. If, however, they felt it would be best for him to rebuild his life in a new environment, in a new city, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train.
As the train neared his home town, the suspense became so great he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. His companion changed places with him and said he would watch for the apple tree. In a minute, he put his hand on the young convict’s arm. “I can see the tree,” he said.
The young man then asked, “Does it contain a white ribbon?”
The reply, “Not one white ribbon, but a white ribbon on every branch!”
In that instant, all the bitterness that had poisoned a life was dispelled. Warden Scudder said to the young man, “I feel as if I have witnessed a miracle.”
The young man responded, “Perhaps you have.”
What was the wise and inspired counsel from Alexander Pope? “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”