Crises often reveal in stark ways what is most important in life.
That was evident in the human dramas surrounding the attacks by terrorists that occurred in the United States on Sept. 11.
Several passengers aboard United Flight 93 that took off from Newark, N.J., apparently decided they weren't going to let the hijackers crash the plane into a high-profile target like the World Trade Center, which was hit by two airliners.
Yet they knew their heroic acts would probably result in their deaths. As one of the passengers, Thomas Burnett, 38, told his wife in his fourth and final phone call to her as he was relating plans to rush the hijackers, "I know we're going to die." The final words Burnett uttered to a loved one in mortality were these: "I love you, honey."
Lauren Grandcolas, two-months pregnant, was also on United Flight 93. The last words she left on her husband's answering machine were, "Please tell my family that I love them."
Their experiences were repeated by others on the hijacked flights and by those who were in the World Trade Center who had access to phones. They all expressed love for their spouses, children, parents, siblings and other relatives as they faced death.
There was not a single reported mention of material things. There was no talk of money, clothes, sporting events or any type of entertainment. All expressions were about love for family.
When we are faced with losing everything, we realize that our families are what is most important in life. That's why the current emphasis of the Church, such as family home evening, is designed to strengthen families.
It's also why more than 100 temples dot the globe. Faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to obtain temple blessings, and to be sealed to their spouses, and do the work for those who have passed on.
The divine nature of men and women needs to be repeatedly emphasized. Love needs to be the cornerstone of the home. Everyone needs to understand how important he or she is in God's eternal plan.
As President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, "Under the plan of heaven, the husband and wife walk side by side as companions, neither one ahead of the other, but a daughter of God and a son of God walking side by side. Let your families be families of love and peace and happiness. Gather your children around you and have your family home evenings, teach your children the ways of the Lord, read to them from the scriptures, and let them come to know the great truths of the eternal gospel as set forth in these words of the Almighty." (Fireside, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 12, 1996 reported in the March, 2001, Ensign.)
In addition to our families, we need to be loving to those around us.
President Hinckley noted while speaking to members of the Church in Guam last January that the Lord "expects we will be good neighbors, kind to others, to those not of our faith, that we will treat them with generosity and love and respect, that when they have troubles, we will reach out to assist them and lift them and help and bless them." (March, 2001, Ensign).
Many report that in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks they are kinder and more patient with others and more helpful to strangers. That is exactly what the Savior would have us do.
Jesus was asked what is the first and great law in the kingdom. And He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:37-39).