on Sunday, October 24th, 2010)
Deep in the heart of Zambia and the Congo of South Africa is found the home to a fascinating tribe of people known as the Babemba. Babemba treat people who step out of line in a remarkable way. Instead of treating the person with judgment and punishment, the tribe treats the offender with love and appreciation.
If a member of the Babemba acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he or she is placed at the center of the village, alone. All work ceases, and the entire tribe gathers in a large circle around the violator. Then each person in the tribe, regardless of age, speaks to the accused, one at a time, recalling all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his or her lifetime.
Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy is recounted. All the individual's positive attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. No one is permitted to fabricate, exaggerate or be facetious about the accomplishments or the positive aspects of the person. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days and does not end until everyone is drained of every positive comment he or she can state about the person in question.
At the end, the circle is broken and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe with joyful celebration. It is also interesting to note… necessity for such ceremonies is rare. (Peace Pilgrim)
What I find remarkable about this practice is the love that is lavished upon a sinner. Instead of judgment, vengeance or shaming, the people of the tribe love offenders into right behavior by reminding them of their goodness… reminding them of Who They Are.
Last spring I had the pleasure of attending the YW general broadcast with my daughters. Elaine Dalton, the general YW president gave an inspired talk entitled “Remember Who You Are!”
We were reminded of our divine heritage… that we were literally the royal daughters of our Heavenly Father… each one of us born to be a queen. She spoke of “deep beauty” – the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. She spoke of our nobility and of our divine identity. Sister Dalton also admonished us to “Remember who you are!”, and to “See yourself as our Heavenly Father sees you.”
This was a beautiful talk, and the inspiration for my talk today, but I would like to take things a step further and ask you this question… “Do you also see others as our Heavenly Father sees them?”
I would like to share a personal story of an experience that happened to me several years ago… I was downtown Salt Lake on my may to attend the marriage of a friend at the Salt Lake temple. As I was walking towards Temple Square, across the street and a distance away I watched as an elderly woman, with her arms full of bags, had a misstep and fell hard to the ground. Her bags and her purse flew out of her arms, as she lies hurt on the ground.
Then... before I could even react, a young man, whom I can only describe as TROUBLE came sprinting toward her. Let me describe the scene… this man was very scruffy and covered in tattoos and piercings. His pants were low and baggy, and he wore chains around his neck. He definitely looked like “gang material”. One look and I knew… I KNEW what I was about to witness. This guy was going to steal the woman’s purse and her bags, and then leave her there helpless!
Well… I was wrong. I was so very wrong. I humbly watched as this young man, this Good Samaritan, assisted the woman back to her feet, gathered up her belongings, and then with his arm tight around her, he walked the grateful woman to her car. As I watched all this I was overcome with a great sense of shame of the judgment that I had placed upon the man. He was indeed a beautiful soul. It is a lesson I will never forget.
Mother Theresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Those who love you are not fooled by the mistakes you have made or the dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.
Last month Pres. Monson delivered a beautiful message at the General R.S. Broadcast. His words really moved me and I would like to share with you part of what he said…
"I consider charity—or the “pure love of Christ”—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions; the kind of charity that forgives; the kind of charity that is patient.... Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down; it is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others." (Thomas S. Monson)
As someone who tends to be a bit unorthodox in practically every aspect of my life, such as… my views on health and diet, the education and upbringing of my children, and even that of my faith… I often feel categorized by others - as someone who is misguided, misinformed or just plain lost… Maybe I am the wrong person to be giving this talk, or maybe I am exactly the right person, anyhow… I feel it is important to note that just because someone is on a different path than you are, does not mean they are lost. Different roads can still take you in the same direction.
Today, October 24th 2010, happens to be a special day. Today marks and celebrates the very 1st annual Global Oneness day! I pulled this mission statement from it’s official website…
“A day to be set aside and embraced by individuals, communities and nations each year during which people celebrate, discuss, demonstrate and thus experience our commonality, while still acknowledging and respecting our beautiful cultural diversity . . . a shared day to unite in Oneness every year for the greater good of the Human Family.”
In honor of this historic 1st, I think today presents the perfect opportunity to discuss the themes of unity and oneness with our families as we gather around the dinner table tonight. I personally will always recall this day as… the day I had to speak in church. (An event that I hope will not likely be repeated until the year 2020!)
Brothers and sisters… We are all connected. Despite all our differences, despite our race, our religion, our beliefs… despite our status, education, or our income… and despite our sexual orientation, or our political affiliations… despite it all… we all belong to each other. We need not agree with one another… to love one another. We need not think alike… to love alike.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment…
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
I repeat… There is none other commandment greater than these.
It is not our place to determine the worth of a soul, for God has already done this… the worth of a soul… every soul… is great in his sight and understanding - Greater than we could ever comprehend… at least in this life.
May we always remember Who We Are, and may we also never forget the divine beauty and greatness that can be found in all. May we love, honor and recognize the good, and the god, that is in each of us.
In closing I would like to leave you with one final thought… Psalms 82:6
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”
May you always remember.