I have always suspected that there was a lesson to be learned from the events at the tower of Babel, but it always alluded me, until now. Dividing the human population into to a diverse set of cultures, languages, and skin colors has provided the Lord with a veritable pallet of options for learning godly attributes. These godly attributes would have been far more difficult to learn had there been far less diversity among his children.
The barriers of diversity
Language is the medium by which culture is taught to the next generation. Our language has been molded over many generations to express our ideas about each other, the universe around us, and has been used to fix our concept of self and others. Add to that a skin color that is different from those not of our culture, and you have built quite an effective wall between any two cultures or people.
Even if two people have the same skin color, the fact that one speaks a different language causes people to rate others as sub standard or superior, based on the political power possessed by those who speak a particular language. Now throw into that mix the advantages some people give politically to certain speakers of one language that makes life easier for them than it does for those who don’t speak that language fluently, and you have even greater cause for separation.
One of Satan’s greatest tools in the last days is his ability to accentuate differences in a negative way, causing fracturing in societies and in communities. The more people focus on their individual differences, and the undesirable differences of others, the greater the chances of seeing genocide and hate flourish among the people of the world. Is it any wonder that our Father in Heaven has called for us to unite ourselves and become as one people, even in the midst of our diversity?
I have included a video by Sis. Cristina B. Franco that is most instructive. Please watch it and pay particular attention to the analogy of the watch she uses to discuss the differences we have among ourselves. The rest of the article is based on those differences and on that comparison. You may have to turn on your volume. (https://youtu.be/Ei8P0lX3mNE)
This is such a powerful video. The lessons are legion. Let’s look at just some of what she presents here and talk about how we can learn unity through our obvious differences.
Parts of a whole
As I watched this video over and over again, it occurred to me that the watch the watch maker was working with was far more complex than what Sister Franco was mentioning. The watch is a contained unit. Everything within the casing of the watch is designed to work together to serve one main purpose, and that is to represent time accurately.
A mechanical watch has many, many parts, all of them small and insignificant by themselves, and even when put in small groups. The ability of the watch, the name of the whole group, is not apparent when you look at just the cogs and springs that make up its parts. It isn’t until the whole unit begins to operate as a single entity that the watch is really born.
Even though all the wheels and springs, screws and rings, have the capacity for producing a representation of time, it isn’t until they are placed in their proper place and position, within a framework created by the watch maker, that they are able to fulfill the object and measure of their creation. It isn’t until everything works together in harmony, with a minimum amount of friction, that their collective purpose is revealed as a time piece.
I find this comparison to God’s family very instructive. In many ways the family of God is exactly like the parts of the watch. We are each little parts of a whole. We are insignificant in and of ourselves, because we can’t express the capabilities of the whole on our own. We need each other for our best abilities to shine forth. God’s children are diverse, just like the parts of the watch, but when working together in the way in which we were designed to achieve, we will create something that none of us can conceive of yet.
Just like the parts of the watch could never imagine that by being brought together as a whole they could create a machine that keeps immaculate track of the passage of time, so too do we have no true grasp of what we, as the children of God have the capability of creating when we come together in all our diversity of operations to create a grand whole.
What is unity?
Go back and review the video again. What does Sister Franco say about us? She tells us that we need each other, just like the gears and parts of the watch need each other. Our true potential is not obtainable on our own. We must have others around us. We must all work in unison in order for the true power of our personalities and characters to be expressed.
What does it mean to act in unison, to be unified? Does it mean we all become robots? Do we all become imitators of other’s behaviors? Does it mean we all lose our personal identity and have to breathe, and act like everyone else? That is our hidden, or not so hidden, fear. We are all afraid that acting in unison will mean giving up something of ourselves. We fear that our individuality will be lessened or lost in the process. That is what Satan would have us feel and think. But that is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Unity is what we see in the Godhead. We don’t see God, our Father, pulling strings that manipulates his Son’s behavior. Nor do we see him controlling the Holy Ghost’s every move. They work with each other out of love and respect for each other. They cooperate with joy in the work of salvation for God’s children. They are unified in that they all share the same goal. They are willing to work in sync with each other to accomplish something that none of them could accomplish working alone. It is a universal and eternal truth that the salvation of God’s children must be accomplished by the whole family of God. Even Christ needs the rest of his brothers and sisters to accomplish the Father’s goal of offering salvation to all of the children in the family. We are taught explicitly by the prophets and in the scriptures that if we don’t do the work of salvation for our kindred dead our own salvation will be lost. We truly need each other.
A change in perspective
What I personally seek is to be willing to accept that I am not an earth-moving piece of the celestial puzzle. I want to be able to subdue my personal pride and be humble enough to find joy in contributing to the grand whole in which we are all engaged in creating any way I can. I know that my personal contribution is nothing more than that of a tiny spring in a watch. But if my contribution and cooperation with my fellowman can help to move the cosmic mechanism forward and contribute to its running smoothly then I will have fulfilled my heart’s desire.
We are children of the man who created and steers the course of the universe in which we live. We have his spiritual DNA. As our children have the capacity of growing up to become like us, we have the capacity to grow up to become like God, our Father. But unlike our children, who can grow to become like us all by themselves, for all of us to become like our Father in Heaven, we have to become like the Godhead and learn to work together as a unit. Celestial accomplishments are bigger than any mortal accomplishments, and are bigger than any one person. They require the cooperative efforts of many people.
Zion, the pure in heart, and those who are of one thought and one purpose, or mind, is made of those who have learned to accept the differences of others and use those differences to accomplish what those who are the same cannot accomplish by themselves. In this life we have been given the full compliment of the diversity that makes up the children of God to deal with. Our task is to learn to welcome every one of God’s children into the fold of his covenants, and love them like we love ourselves.
Heaven only knows how much we love ourselves. We are willing to forgive ourselves of almost anything we can conceive of doing. But what about our neighbor? How far are we willing to go to forgive them? Are we willing to seek to find their God-given abilities and help them exalt those abilities in the service of our brothers and sisters? Are we willing to overlook deficits of learning, social graces, differences of customs, and odd mannerisms and behavior, and focus our attention and love on those parts of their character that can benefit those around them?
Unity comes at a cost. We must be willing to give up our desires for individual glory, our desire for recognition and our desire for promotion. We must be willing to promote and exalt our neighbor in all good things. Color, language, social graces, wealth or poverty, political bent, and gender identification make no difference when it comes to our need to be loving and forgiving. These traits must become universal. Think back on the watch. Can you imagine how well a great Swiss watch would run if certain cogs resisted the efforts of minor springs because they thought they were inferior in some way? It would ruin the watch’s performance.
Just as the watch truly only came into being once all the parts were assembled within the framework provided by the watch maker then wound and set in motion, so too will we not truly see our real potential as children of God until we come to a fulness of love for our fellow beings in mortality and learn to work with all people of every kind in a cooperative and generous manner. Our love must become unconditional, without restriction.
As we go about learning to minister, to love all those around us, we will begin to see the value in others that God has always seen in each of us. That value is hidden to those who focus only on themselves, but is revealed through loving service to others. We have the casing or framework created for us by God. It is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The prophets watch over the organization and running of this mechanism of exaltation, being guided by the eternal watch maker himself. We have everything within the Church we need right now to move forward and progress a little closer to becoming the people our Father desires us to become. As we need to make refinements and adjustments along the way, instructions for such are given to the prophet. This is why we need to stay close to the prophet. He and the Holy Ghost provide us with the guidance we need to become closer and closer to what our Father wants us to become.
We can indeed learn to be unified. Once we learn that each person we meet, despite any outward differences, is of equal worth to God, they will become of equal worth to us as well. Achieving complete cooperation, forgiveness, tolerance, and acceptance is not something that can be legislated. These are attributes that must be acquired through prayer, practice, and devotion to learning to look upon the heart and the intrinsic eternal value of the person, rather than on the outward appearance. When we place our faith in God that he has truly given us the capacity to love all his children as we love ourselves, we will come to be like the prophets who no longer see people in terms of their differences, but instead begin to see them in terms of their eternal parentage. After all, we are each a child of God. What else really matters?
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