• The U.S. Supreme Court granted a “stay” that places a hold on same-sex marriages in Utah.
• The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the contraceptive coverage requirement of Obamacare for some religious-affiliated charitable organizations.
• Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson was reinstated by A & E.
• A California Court ordered all the petitions to be counted, so the referendum to overturn the student restroom bill in that state can move forward. BREAKING NEWS: We just got word that the random sampling of signatures has reached the required 95% validity rate with a full count to follow within 30 business days.
The battle is far from over, but good news now and then gives us courage to face the challenges ahead. And as internationally renowned author and speaker Lloyd Newell affirms in today’s encouraging alert, with hope and faith, “each of us can try to do something” to “stand for the true, the good, and the beautiful.”
Happy New Year to you and yours,
President, United Families International
Conquering the Fear Factor
Lloyd D. Newell
Adapted from an address given to youth at the World Congress of Families VII, Sydney, Australia, May 20, 2013
The beginning of a new year is a good time to remember that most darkness is temporary. No matter how bleak or dark things may seem at times, the long nights of winter gradually grow shorter, a new day eventually dawns, and with it comes a new beginning and new confidence. Hope is the flame that brightens the darkest nights.
During the dark days of World War II, a Jewish inmate in a Nazi concentration camp found a way to rekindle hope. It was the first night of Hanukkah (which, in most parts of the world, falls at the darkest time of the year). On this night, Jews traditionally light the first candle in their Menorah. Not having any provisions for such a celebration, the prisoner saved a scrap of bread from his meager meal and dipped it in grease from his dinner dish. After saying the appropriate prayer, he lit his makeshift candle.
His son said to him, “Father, that was food you burned. We have so little of it. Wouldn’t we have been better off eating it?” The father replied, “My son, people can live for a week without food, but they cannot live for one day without hope.”
Hope is so much more than positive thinking. It’s deeper than smiley faces and lofty words. True hope is found deep in the hearts of those who love and care about others. It is expressed through meaningful work, worthwhile activity, and a sincere desire to make a positive difference. It is manifested in service, sacrifice, and selflessness. It leads us to see ourselves—and others—as children of a God who, as the Psalmist said, can be to us a light that casts away fear. (see Psalm 27:1).
Each new year, and each new day, can be filled with hope and possibility. When the night seems particularly dark, let us light a candle, even if only in our hearts, to the promise of hope.1
We need hope and we need faith—in the future, in the world, in our lives.
To those who follow the news of the day, the whole world seems to be in turmoil. Some would say the world has always been in turmoil, and that may be true. But the difference is that today, with immediate and widespread news coverage, the world seems to be much smaller—and getting smaller each day. For that reason, we feel more connected to those on the other side of the world; we’re part of a global community. In a sense, we’re all neighbors. And what makes this worldwide neighborhood run most effectively are people who are willing to stand up and be counted, to make a difference, to let their voices be heard.
How grateful we are for those among us who take on the culture and stand for families, those who sacrifice in some way for the betterment of the human family. We need YOU, young people with energy and capacity, to willingly face your fears as you develop a sense of responsibility toward the family and your fellow human beings.
Each of us can try to do something—and it doesn’t have to be much. In a hundred ways, small and not so small, we can open our hearts to others, down the street or around the world. Our world depends on each of us offering our hands and hearts in building a better place for all of us.
And you are needed today more than ever. You are the future. We need you to be bold, to stand for the right, to let your voices be heard!
For example, the story is told of a devout young man whose car broke down, forcing him to make his way to his place of worship on foot. As he walked, he passed an area of startling poverty—where destitute people lined the streets, struggling to keep warm; troubled and angry individuals wandered the streets. The depressing scene filled him with a sense of hopelessness.
In his despair, he offered a prayer to God. In a voice both pleading and questioning, he said, “How can You allow all this suffering and do nothing?” Then someone behind him whispered, “He didn’t do nothing. He made you.” At once the young man realized that he could be God’s hands. He could help a troubled world—or at least a troubled individual.
At times it can be easy to relate to the helplessness this young man felt, because we certainly do live in a world of turmoil. Society’s problems seem so immense, and we seem so small. Too often, we conclude that there is nothing we can do—and we consequently do nothing.
What we need is the gentle reminder this young man received: that we can be the instruments of constructive change.
We were made with a purpose, and that purpose is to do something for others, to help and bless those in need, to stand up for the true and the good, and thereby to make a difference in the world. Most often it doesn’t take much—a change of perspective that can lead to a change of heart, a willingness to accept our part in making things better, a simple desire to help others and look for the good, an inclination to get informed so that we can let our voices be heard in positive and productive ways. That positive energy and action can truly change the world in the way most real change happens: one person at a time.2
–It’s the teenager or adult who is not afraid to stand for the natural family, for the sanctity of marriage, for the blessing of children.
–It’s the person who votes, who gets involved in strengthening families, who lets his or her voice be heard for the true, the good and the beautiful.
This new year gives us an opportunity to reset our focus on first things. We might consider this counsel from American writer Leo Rosten: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. … It is to be useful, to be honorable. It is to be compassionate. It is to matter, to have it make some difference that you lived.”
Useful. Honorable. Compassionate. These are not just lofty words—they are keys to living well. Put into action, they build character, shape a positive outlook, and bless the lives of others as well as our own.3
We conquer fear as we make our plans for the future, as we choose to be useful, honorable, and compassionate, and as we work together for the betterment of the next generation. We will then find that our life has indeed mattered, that it has made some difference that we have lived. Face your fears. Light a candle. Let your voices be heard as you stand for the true, the good, the beautiful.
Lloyd D. Newell holds a PhD from Brigham Young University where he has served on the faculties of Religious Education and the School of Family Life. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and has addressed audiences in forty-five states and more than a dozen countries through his seminars and keynote speaking engagements. He has been the announcer and writer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast, “Music and the Spoken Word” since 1990. He and his wife, Karmel, are the parents of four children.
1. Adapted from Music and the Spoken Word, “The Promise of Hope”, January 1, 2012
2. Adapted from Music and the Spoken Word, “One Person at a Time”, September 9, 2012
3. Adapted from Music and the Spoken Word, “Make Some Difference”, January 9, 2011