Friday, December 7, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on diversity and tolerance

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.
"Anyone who preaches unity risks misunderstanding. The same is true of anyone who questions the goal of diversity. Such a one risks being thought intolerant. But tolerance is not jeopardized by promoting unity or by challenging diversity....
"In short, we preach unity among the community of Saints and tolerance toward the personal differences that are inevitable in the beliefs and conduct of a diverse population. Tolerance obviously requires a noncontentious manner of relating toward one another’s differences. But tolerance does not require abandoning one’s standards or one’s opinions on political or public policy choices. Tolerance is a way of reacting to diversity, not a command to insulate it from examination....
"In conclusion, diversity and choice are not the weightier matters of the law. The weightier matters that move us toward our goal of eternal life are love of God, obedience to His commandments, and unity in accomplishing the work of His Church. In this belief and practice we move against the powerful modern tides running toward individualism and tolerance rather than toward obedience and cooperative action. Though our belief and practice is unpopular, it is right, and it does not require the blind obedience or the stifling uniformity its critics charge. If we are united on our eternal goal and united on the inspired principles that will get us there, we can be diverse on individual efforts in support of our goals and consistent with those principles."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Weightier Matters," devotional address at BYU on 9 February 1999, reprinted in Ensign January 2001, p. 13
Click here to read the full talk

What is the interplay between unity and diversity? Can a group or community be one, be united, but yet have differences in belief or approach? President Oaks advocates both "unity among the community of Saints and tolerance toward the personal differences" that exist within the population. We must learn to relate to differences in a way that avoids contention, while still holding on to our own beliefs and opinions.

Importantly, President Oaks points out that there are higher principles than choice, individualism, and tolerance. Our society wants to focus on those issues to the exclusion of more important ones, including "love of God, obedience to His commandments, and unity in accomplishing the work of His Church."

In seeking to support good and true principles including tolerance, it's important that we not neglect the "weightier matters" of eternal truth that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven, while still allowing for diversity and acceptance of differences.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15