Thursday, April 5, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on the impact of consistent small decisions

President Dallin H. Oaks (born August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and also 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in January 2018.
"President Brigham Young was reported as saying: 'Our lives are made up of little, simple circumstances that amount to a great deal when they are brought together, and sum up the whole life of the man or woman.' (Deseret News, Oct. 17, 1877, 578. 
"We are surrounded by media influences and cultural deteriorations that will carry us downstream in our values if we are not continually resisting. To move upstream toward our eternal goal, we must constantly keep paddling. It helps if we are part of a team that is paddling together, like a rowing crew in action. To extend that example even further, the cultural currents are so strong that if we ever stop paddling, we will be carried downstream toward a destination we do not seek but which becomes inevitable if we do not constantly try to move forward."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Small and Simple Things," General Conference, April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Oaks discussed the concept of small and simple things in this talk, acknowledging it is a concept that has been discussed various times in the past but feeling it was worth another review. The quote from Brigham Young is a good summation: "the whole life of the man or woman" is a product of the "simple circumstances" that combine to produce the result, and so we must take care how we create and respond to those circumstances. We have many choices:

So the message is that we must take control of our own destiny, carefully and deliberately choosing which "currents" we will follow and which we must resist. It's interesting to ponder the "cultural deteriorations" that threaten to carry us away. As we come to recognize and identify them, we will find inspiration to know how best to paddle against the currents that would take us to destinations we don't desire.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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