“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .
Jenkin Lloyd Jones (Quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley in “A Conversation with Single Adults“)
“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
I probably spent way too much time today watching the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing. I watched the entire hearing with Dr Ford and then the entire hearing with Judge Kavanaugh. I know that this has been discussed from virtually every angle imaginable. I simply have two thoughts to share. There were valid points made by both Democrats and Republicans at today’s hearing. After today’s hearing, I believe the right thing for the senate to do, and by implication the Republican majority which controls the process, is to delay the confirmation for one week to allow for corroborating or exculpatory evidence to be discovered.
Both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee made valid and important points about content and procedure in today’s hearing. Some of those points are (summarized by me) as follows:
- Victims of sexual assault deserve to be heard.
- Serious allegations deserve to be investigated.
- Republicans are over eager to rush a confirmation given the seriousness of allegations leveled against Judge Kavanaugh.
- Democrats need to transparently explain why they sat on this information instead of immediately bringing it to the hearing either in closed or open session.
Democrats are rightfully indignant over the majority’s desire to rush through this confirmation without asking for FBI investigation of Dr Ford’s allegations. Republicans’ response to this call tended to be along the lines of “the FBI will just produce a report for us to read” or “the FBI doesn’t determine guilt.” These are true, but I find it troubling that the majority is not even willing to entertain finding more evidence through this means. The committee should want to find the truth. It should use every means necessary to find that truth. And Judge Kavanaugh should, and I believe would, cooperate.
Republicans are also rightfully frustrated, as I see it, with the minority’s apparent lack of action. If the Democrats really cared about getting to the truth, why wait until the last minute to share the information? Why not call for an immediate investigation as soon as evidence was first presented? Why not question Judge Kavanaugh immediately on finding this evidence? Why would you help Dr Ford to find a lawyer and wait to share the information that these allegations existed? It does seem that there is at least some degree of political theater going on here.
These are absolutely serious allegations. A person that has sexually assaulted anyone should not sit on the supreme court (or serve in any position in our government for that matter).
While we should take serious allegations seriously, we must take care to determine when an allegation is credible.Spurious allegations of wrong doing should not be allowed to destroy the lives of honest, good, women and men. This responsibility rests on all of us: the American people, elected leaders, and the press.
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the evidence that was presented in today’s hearing, I believe it is the right thing to do to delay the proceedings for a week to allow for a more thorough, non-partisan, investigation to take place. Directing the FBI to investigate and provide a report is in everyone’s best interest. The American people benefit by seeing our elected leaders care more about the truth than about their agenda. We benefit by preserving the integrity of the court.
An investigation will presumably discover corroborating or exculpatory evidence about these allegations. Corroborating evidence benefits Democrats by allowing them to be the public advocates for Dr Ford as a victim of sexual assault. It benefits Republicans in the same way and also allows them to take the moral high ground and tell the story of how they preserved the credibility of the Supreme Court. Exculpatory evidence benefits Republicans by allowing them to have a more sound footing for their confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh as well as to use the moral high ground narrative. It benefits Democrats similarly but in addition allows them to still take the position of advocates for Dr Ford.
Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh both benefit from truth that may be discovered by a delay and investigation. Although an investigation may reveal further truths that are damaging to them in the short term, in the long term the truth is better than a lie for either party.
At the end of the day, this hearing and this confirmation reflect our collective character as Americans. I think that Senator Flake said it best when he said (addressing Judge Kavanaugh):
I am sorry for what has happened to you and your family as I am sorry for what has happened to her’s. This is not a good process but it’s all we’ve got. I would just urge my colleagues to recognize that in the end we are 21 very imperfect senators trying to do our best to provide advice and consent.
In the end there is likely to be as much doubt as certainty going out of this room today. As we make decisions going forward I hope that people will recognize that and in the rhetoric that we use and the language that we use going forward that we’ll recognize that, that there is doubt, we’ll never move beyond that. And just have a little humility on that front.C-SPAN Full Hearing Video – Senator Flake (Emphasis added)
In the end, it will require deep humility on the part of both Republicans and Democrats to take the right actions in this confirmation process. Each side needs to admit its mistakes and commit to moving forward in an appropriate, respectful, careful, manner.
This morning I got to give a spiritual thought at the Activity Days Camp at church. This is the summer camp for 7-11 year old girls. Their theme was “Growing Toward the Son.”
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens in a lot of plants where they will actually change direction to grow toward the sun. This effect is called phototropism. In very young plants this effect can be observed plainly over a relatively short period of time as shown in this brief video. Notice how the plants react as they grow.
I love the plants in that video that are growing longer and longer and then suddenly topple over as they are straining to get to the light. They don’t ever give up. They don’t think that it’s over just because they’re in a darker place than their neighbors. They consistently push toward the light. Sometime they shake around a bit as if they are unsure, but their course is firmly toward the light — the source of their energy.
We should be like this in our relationship with Christ. We know that we are supposed to be steadfast in our facing toward and focusing on Christ. Christ invites us:
“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.” – D&C 6:36-37
How are we do do this? What does it mean to look unto him in every thought? We need to read our scriptures regularly. We need to say our prayers. We need to partake of the sacrament. We need to learn the principles of the gospel — faith and repentance. We need to love our families.
“We are to ponder and apply the Book of Mormon and the words of prophets. Pray always. Be believing. Serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. We are to pray with all the energy of our hearts for the gift of charity, the pure love of Christ (see Moroni 7:47–48). And above all, we are to be consistent and persistent in following prophetic counsel.” (Henry B. Eyring, Fear Not to Do Good, October 2017)
I know that in doing these little, everyday, things that we can keep our lives focused on the savior. I know that as we do that, we will, eventually, feel the love of the savior. We may be like the plant that falters along the way, but don’t give up. Hold on the way and keep pushing toward the light. He is the light. He is real. He does love us.
“The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.”Russell M Nelson
Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.
— Joseph B. Wirthlin
In May of 1895, the ship Teutonic left the port in Liverpool, England, bound for the United States of America. On the ship was a three-year-old girl, Hannah Askew. She and her family were traveling to America to be reunited with her father. The family had moved from England to Australia in 1888, because of the shortage of work in England. Life in Australia, however, was not much better than life in England, so they had moved back to England. When the Panic of 1893 hit, Hannah’s father went to America to find work. He worked sporadically in different jobs until he got a well-paying job in the iron mines near Ishpeming, Michigan. After procuring lodging he sent for his family. Now the family was coming to meet him and begin their new life in the United States.
The ship had rough sailing and Hannah, her brother and sister, and mother were constantly sick. The quarters on the ship were cramped and miserable and she was kept inside for much of the voyage. The family finally arrived in the United States on July 3, 1895, and were welcomed at Ellis Island. That night they stayed at a friend’s house who fed them a dinner of bread and milk. They traveled from New York by train to Michigan and were reunited with their father. Hannah Askew is my great-grandmother and one of the millions of immigrants that came to America in the 1800’s.
As immigrants like Hannah entered New York Harbor, they passed under the welcoming arms of the Statue of Liberty. On the pedestal of the status are these immortal words:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these the homeless tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door!”
The people who came to America were usually not the rich or the famous; they were the tired, the poor, and the wretched seeking a golden door. That golden door was opened for them in America and so they came seeking a golden opportunity an opportunity that was found in the great cotton and wool mills of the large cities, opportunity that was found in the mines, the farms, the west, and the railroad
These immigrants contributed to our culture and much of the richness that we now enjoy. Immigrants from Norway and the Netherlands brought many of our Christmas traditions. Italian immigrants brought some of our favorite foods. Immigrants from Ireland brought their legends of Saint Patrick. Movies were introduced to America by the Russian Jews and the Greeks. The log cabin was introduced by the Swedes, and the Germans organized symphonies and clubs. Because of the diversity of the cultures that are mixed to form the American culture, we have the richest culture in the world. America’s welcome became America’s wealth.
Since the days of the Ellis Island, we have continued to welcome immigrants and their descendants. We have strived to accept and befriend all people into our churches and our schools. We have elected them to public office and befriended them in our neighborhoods.
Although our doors may not be opened as wide as they were in 1895, when my great-grandmother arrived, our hearts are open still. In our hearts America still welcomes the world. We welcome them by carrying their burdens, by lighting their way, by reaching out to them.
The United States has helped people recover from war, and improved living conditions in third world countries. We have been a major contributor in disaster relief throughout the world and have been the intermediaries and helpers of many struggling governments.
In no war in which the United States has been engaged has it seized property or land from an enemy as a treasure of war. Always we have graciously helped the people in countries regain their lives. After World War II, the United States gave Japan millions of dollars to build steel factories and to help restore what had been destroyed by the war. When soviet armies blockaded Berlin, we airlifted thousands of tons of food through the winter to keep the people from starving.
The United States has also played a prominent role in disaster relief around the world. When there were earthquakes in India the US helped immediately. Rescue workers from the US were sent to help. Food was sent from the Red Cross and many religious institutions. When rain waters flooded the country of Bolivia, we again sent workers and food to help the suffering people.
Just as our government reaches out to others, so do our people. As individuals, we welcome the world. The United States is home to thousands of humanitarian organizations that routinely send help and supplies to the poor and needy of the world. In high school I traveled to Peru with one of these organizations. We took simple things such as nails, hammers, crayons, beads, and educational supplies, and we taught them how to use them. We taught them how to build an efficient stove out of mud, and helped put in a water system to help with sanitation problems. We helped them to improve their overall experience of life by taking America’s richness and sharing it with them.
Many other people help the poor and needy people of the world. We have organized groups like the Oulessabougou Alliance whose mission is to help the people of Mali. This organization raises money by selling goods produced by villagers in Mali to people in America. This money then goes back to Mali to pay teachers and to send educational and medical supplies. By helping in this way, they do not make the people dependent on America for leadership and organization. Almost all of the leaders in the alliance are from Mali and will continue to live there and support their country. The founders of the alliance have reached out with their hearts and helped to take the golden door to Mali.
America has welcomed the world in different ways throughout its history. In the 1800’s we welcomed thousands of people to our shores and our way of life. These people brought their culture with them and enriched our culture by it. People still come to America and we should welcome them still. Today we welcome the people of the world into our hearts as we not only welcome them to our shores but also build them up in their native lands and help them better their lives. Our welcome reaches across borders, it embraces all people, it seeks to better the whole world.
This text is a slightly reworked speech that I gave as part of a Independence Day speech competition in 2001. I think it is pertinent today