Monday, September 9, 2013

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Printed on the edge of every two-pound coin in England is the phrase "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants."  I admire the British for putting it there.  It gives us something to think about.  Each one of us stands on the shoulders of those who went before us -- our parents and grandparents, of course, but also those who brought us through the dark ages, established democratic principles, and fought and sacrificed for our freedoms, our way of life, and also our heritage in the Church.

I am no historian, but this time in England has taught me how much we Americans owe the British for documents such as the Magna Carta and the early principles and processes of civil discourse and freedom that found their way into our Constitution and councils of government.

With respect to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the re-establishment of His church on the earth, it was thousands of British converts, joined by many Scandinavians, who sailed out of Liverpool to strengthen the struggling American saints and build Zion in the mountain west.  In 1850 there were 34,000 Mormons in Great Britain and only 12,000 in America.  For a time, nine of the twelve apostles were serving in the British Isles, where the Book of Mormon and the Millennial Star were published.  The United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the world have been greatly blessed by those who went before us, including many people from the British Isles.  I am also particularly grateful for the efforts of William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, British scholars and martyrs who courageously exposed false doctrines and translated the bible into English, making the scriptures available to common people.

Brilliant and enlightened people come from all races, nations, and parts of the world, of course, but the more I learn about history, the more I appreciate that I was born when and where I was.  Many generations before me paved the way for me to live the life that I have. I don't know that I would have endured well had I lived in another time and place.  I certainly would not be the same person, and I wouldn't have survived the brain aneurysm I suffered 17 years ago.

I have so many blessings that I did nothing to earn, develop, or create -- electricity, air conditioning, cars and transportation, computers, advancements in health care, and all the wonders of science and technology.  I also received a rich heritage of freedom and opportunity -- access to knowledge, books, literature, music and the arts, and chances to go to school to learn about things in the world.  Through the restoration of the gospel, and the words of ancient and modern prophets, I have learned the true nature of God and my relationship to Jesus Christ, the power of His atonement, and many eternal truths I would not have gained on my own. It just makes me thankful to stand on the shoulders of so many, many giants -- both religious and secular.

It is a humbling thought that each of my children stands on my weak and faltering shoulders, and my grandchildren will stand on the shoulders of my children. I find great comfort in Moroni's words that the Savior can make "weak things" strong to those who will be humble and come unto Him, and that His grace will be sufficient for them. I am thankful to know that Jesus Christ really is the answer, and that faith in Him is the sure foundation on which we can all stand and find peace.

It is good to recognize that we are all "standing on the shoulders of giants." These are inspiring words to be placed on a coin.  The last time I checked, the phrase "In God We Trust" is still printed on American coins. This an uplifting motto for our nation.  May we always honor this motto, preserve it, and try to live by it.                                                                                                                                        ~ Don~

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