Music and the Spoken Word: ‘To will the good of another’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Oct. 13, 2019.

It’s natural to be concerned about our own needs, our own well-being. Virtually every living thing has self-defense and self-preservation instincts. But then, we aren’t meant to be like other living things, and we are guided by something much higher than instincts.

This is why our souls resonate with eternal principles, with truths that lift us above worldly concerns. Perhaps the most universally inspiring of these is love, which Saint Thomas Aquinas said “moves us to will the good of another” (“Summa Theologica: Second Part of the Second Part,” trans. Anthony Uyl, 2018, 256). How different that is from the spirit of self-interest. And how essential it is — for without this kind of love, other people with different views or different goals can seem like a nuisance, even an enemy. Before long, society is ruled by contempt, antagonism, and discord. Sadly, it’s not hard to see evidence of this in our world today. 

At a recent university graduation, author and social scientist Arthur C. Brooks suggested a remedy. “If we are going to beat the problem of contempt,” he said, “we are going to need something more radical than civility — something that speaks to our heart’s true desire. We need love” (“More Love, Less Contempt,” Brigham Young University commencement address, Apr. 25, 2019).

Think what could happen in our communities, our workplaces, our homes and families, if there were no contempt. Is it possible to disagree—even to strongly disagree — without crossing the line into contempt? Is it possible to genuinely care about — even to love — those with whom we disagree? Is it possible to set aside, for a moment, our own good and “will the good of another”? 

It must be possible — and it is! At those times when we feel burdened by the hostility around us, we can remember that compassion is always more helpful than contempt, that civility is always more effective than rudeness, and that love is always more powerful than hate.

Love, unlike its opposites, always builds and blesses. By spending more of our time and energy, more of our heart, on seeking the good of another, we can spread light and love. This is the way — the only way — to overcome selfishness and bitterness and create the world we all hope for. 

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), the Tabernacle Choir’s website and YouTube channel and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.