Music and the Spoken Word: Peacocks, people and ‘our glorious potential’

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 April 14, 2019.

Not long ago, a 3-year-old girl was watching a movie with her family. With a puzzled look on her face, she pointed at the screen and said, "Mom, that chicken is weird!"

Her mother smiled. "Honey, that is a peacock." (From "I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home," by Sister Jean B. Bingham, November 2016 Ensign or Liahona.)

Sometimes we think we know what we're looking at, but our understanding is limited — whether it's about chickens, peacocks, or people. We don't know the full story on anyone's life, and we know almost nothing about many of the people with whom we interact daily.

We all know how frustrating it is to be judged unfairly or wrongly perceived. The truth is that no one is qualified to pass final judgments on anyone else — our own shortcomings and lack of perfect understanding disqualify us from that. Besides, not one of us is ready for "final" judgment yet anyway. We are all works in progress, not finished products.

If we focus on the differences and perceived flaws in those around us, that's what we'll get: differences and flaws. But if we try to look at what we have in common, what we share, then we have a greater likelihood of connection and understanding. And there is much we have in common: We all share this earth as our home, we all seek happiness and peace, and we all thrive on love and connection. Compared to that, our differences are rather minor.

It's been said that "the greatest form of charity may be to withhold judgment" (see "I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home"). Everyone needs love instead of judgment, compassion instead of harshness, understanding and acceptance instead of condemnation. And although our perceptions and our judgments are less than perfect, there is one whose perception and judgment is perfect — God sees his children with love and compassion. He sees our glorious potential. Imagine what could happen if we sincerely tried to see others that way.

It may seem obvious, but peacocks are not chickens, and each person is wonderfully unique. As we withhold judgment long enough to see each other as we truly are, we will open doors of friendship and understanding, happiness and peace.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. 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