A common belief I have observed while attending BYU-Idaho is the idea that discussing any negative subject should be avoided at all costs.
But what price do we pay as we do so?
A few weeks ago, the BYU-I Scroll published an article about a student from Syria and her family’s difficult experience and involvement in the refugee crisis.
The story was powerful, and I truly commend this individual who shared a very personal and touching experience.
The week the article was published, a student sent me an email expressing his thoughts that the situation in Syria is too negative of a subject and that a newspaper sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should focus more on positive news and promote uplifting content.
I questioned if he even read the article or just looked at the headline.
While the situation in Syria is a very difficult subject to discuss and read about, it is the reality of one of our fellow students.
If you are trying to avoid anything negative and difficult to talk about, ask yourself this — what effect could this mindset have on those whose lives are being directly affected by the many unfortunate circumstances that life can bring? Everybody goes through trials. Everybody has experienced something difficult in his or her life.
If you are like me, you have turned to friends and family for support so you do not have to go through it alone.
Think back to one of your darkest moments and then imagine what it would be like if your loved ones did not want to deal with it because it was too negative or uncomfortable.
There are real issues that people go through consistently, even here in the Mormon community of Rexburg, Idaho, that are viewed as “taboo” topics that people do not like to talk about. These topics vary from domestic abuse, rape, sexual orientation, poverty, mental illness, etc.
While some might find these topics and others not listed difficult to discuss, it is very much the reality of so many, including those around us.
I remember speaking to a student who was sexually assaulted while on a date in Rexburg for an article I was writing.
She said that when she finally gained the courage to open up to her roommates about what had happened, they not only found ways to blame her for what had happened based on her wardrobe choices that night, but also said that discussing her incident “offended” the peace that should reside in their apartment.
Since the majority of students at BYU-I are Latter-day Saints, I’ll ask this question: Would Jesus Christ ignore someone because their family situation in Syria is not so positive? Would he turn someone away because their current situation makes others feel uncomfortable? He wouldn’t.
In fact, he willingly experienced every trial and sorrow and administered to those in need. He performed the Atonement not only to die for our sins, but to come down to our level and be with us in times of weakness and trial, as low as it might be, to completely understand what we are going through and strengthen us. His entire mortal ministry was devoted to help those in desperate need.
By ignoring or refusing to pay attention to issues or topics because one does not find them positive and uplifting, opportunities are being missed to strengthen and uplift others.
It is during these times, whether we are experiencing a difficult time or being there for someone who is, we gain a more compassionate perspective and a stronger love for people.