A vital link

The world of the 1990s is a world of dazzling technology in communications. Never before have we had so much information available at our disposal with such immediacy.

Almost as fast as major events happen around the globe, they can be projected into our livingrooms. Communication satellites have put the world at our fingertips. Far-off places with names that were once unheard of are now becoming as familiar to us as the nearest town, only a few miles away.The telephone now opens to us vast storehouses of information. For instance, we can receive in just a moment's time information from our banks about any of our accounts. With merely the touch of a few buttons on our telephone we can find out, 24 hours a day, how much we have, say, in our checking or savings accounts or what the last checks were that cleared.

If we're staying at a hotel, we may be able to check out in the comfort of our room and avoid perhaps waiting in lines for service at the check-out counter. We can call up on the TV screen a listing of our charges, and with the press of a button on a remote control, our bill is printed out and waiting for us as we leave the hotel.

It is amazing, and even overwhelming, what has happened in the world of communications in the past few years. To keep up, we have had to learn new words and phrases that now are mostly commonplace in our vocabularies; words like fiber optics, holograms, fax machines, lasers.

Sadly, however, we may not have made such great advances in our personal communications as the world has achieved in mass communications. And nowhere are personal communications more important than in the home and family.

But for many, the lines of communication are dangling precariously.

All too often, husbands and wives complain that they can't talk to each other. Parents frequently say their children won't talk to them, and children often express that their parents don't understand them. Some brothers and sisters are speaking only on limited terms.

In many cases, whatever limited communication there may be in a family, it is done on the run, all but lost among busy schedules. Often, family members feel detached, isolated because there is so little communication. And sometimes whatever communication there may be, it is tinged with anger, with sarcasm, with barbs that cut and hurt.

No family, no matter how strong it once was, can survive broken lines of communication. Sooner or later, that family will crumble unless changes are made.

To restore the lines of communication, new poles may have to be installed, new wires may have to be strung. Pride may have to be replaced with humility; forgiveness may have to replace harboring a grudge; understanding may have to replace a hardened heart.

Living the gospel is the best way to repair broken lines of communication. Often when we fail to live basic gospel principles, then we fail at the basic principle of communicating with each other.

Think what the power of prayer can do. When we truly communicate as a family in humble prayer to God we should have no problem communicating with our spouses, our children, our brothers and sisters. We have already opened our hearts to Heavenly Father and listened for His guidance and inspiration. By applying the same principles of opening our hearts and listening with genuine interest, we keep the lines of communication open.

Think of the value of holding quality family home evenings, of going to the temple regularly with our spouses, of worshipping together, of reading scriptures together, of serving our fellowman together. In living gospel principles, we draw close together, and close families have the ability to communicate in love, kindness and empathy.

And how about the practice of doing things together, of having fun together, of working together? It's not old fashioned for families to spend time with each other, and the rewards are immeasurable. The seeds of communication are planted when we spend quantity and quality time with our families.

When families truly communicate with each other, there will be fewer divorces, less infidelity, less child and spouse abuse, fewer neglected children and older parents, and fewer hurt feelings. There will be more love and harmony, more kindness and consideration, and more happiness.

By walking uprightly before the Lord, there will be no broken poles or downed wires in our lives to prevent us from communicating as a family. The risk is too great to settle for anything less.