Let There Be Light

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(This is an excerpt from the book Broken Things to Mend.)

I invite you to join me in regularly turning inward to confront there anything we wouldn't want others to see. It may not be pornography, but it may be arrogance or unkindness, impatience or vanity, or any number of other flaws we need to remedy. Whatever it is let us trim our lamps, add oil, and make those changes necessary that allow us to hold up a brighter candle, a purer light. Christ focused some of His most pointed opprobrium for the hypocrite. We must never be guilty of that in this battle. Each of us must be the best person we can be in every way we can.

Second, let us educate ourselves. Light is not the absence of darkness; rather, darkness is the absence of light. Light and truth exist independently. This being the case, the more light we have, the more independent we are, and the freer we are to choose. With truth lighting the way, we are able to see and make choices we otherwise couldn't make.

Since we are agents with the ability to choose, the responsibility for our education rests first with us. Others may help—teachers, parents, leaders, friends, even those who are not friends but whose negative examples and misguided perspectives serve to instruct what not to do or what not to believe. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for getting the facts straight is ours. The work is ours. The choices are ours.

Keep in mind that any knowledge we gather can be both negative and positive. Yes, we will gather statistics and horror stories about the impact of the darkness on our society. But more important, we must also fill our hearts and minds with truth and light, with love and the Spirit of God. Too often we allow ourselves to be forced into a defensive, remedial position when we could be more effective by taking positive, constructive action. And nothing is more constructive than a good, powerful, pure personal life.

Third, as we educate ourselves, we need to educate others. The promoters of darkness often seem to have direct access to the media microphone. We may not be able to take that away from them, but we can at least raise our own voices. We can teach correct principles often and in as many ways as possible.

Since darkness is the absence of light, surely the most powerful way to counter darkness is to fill the world with light. As Elder Robert D. Hales has observed: "Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs."

Is it not part of our work as sons and daughters of God to encourage creative efforts that dispel darkness and replace it with light? How powerful a force for good would be a renaissance in literature, art, technology, and science that adds light rather than takes it away! Such a renaissance is possible. There are among us artists and artisans who need only to receive a little more support and encouragement from men and women of conscience to produce works that could rival those that half a millennium ago marked the end of Europe's Dark Age and the rise of a wonderful new cultural and spiritual Renaissance.

As we fill the earth with art (and media) that is good and uplifting—as we fill the earth with light and knowledge—our children will see the darkness for what it is. They will see that it is counterfeit, that it brings only sorrow, pain, and emptiness. They will come to prefer light and be attracted to that which is good and true.

Fourth, we can be vigilant. Some of the most effective work we can do, as was said about the Watergate scandal, is "follow the money." We can keep money out of the pockets of the merchants of immorality. Owners perspire when profits fail. We can work against the profitability of those who merchandise in human suffering and degradation. We can alert media moguls that we will ignore their services and the products they advertise as long as they remain in league with those who abuse the individual, undermine the structure of the family, and attack the moral fiber of society.

But again, if that is all we do, we have not filled the void with light. We must also support, encourage, and finance that which is positive and life-affirming: art and beauty—in short, truth—that encourages people to come out of the darkness into the light.

Lastly, as parents we must control use of the Internet in our own homes. We need to set and enforce family rules that protect us and our children from those who would sneak into our homes and there replace light with darkness. As citizens, we can seek controls on Internet use in public places. We can understand and teach others how to use the Internet safely. This wonderful tool is too valuable to all of us to let greedy individuals use it for their own selfish ends.

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