Lucius and his mother settled into a new home in a small town. Lucius’s dad had died the year before, and his mother had to work long hours to support the two of them.
Lucius didn’t know anyone at church. Some of the children at school looked at him strangely. He noticed that everyone at church and school was white. He looked at his own dark skin and, for the first time in his life, saw a color difference.
When his mother arrived at school one afternoon to walk Lucius home, some children threw rocks at them. One rock hit his mother in the head, and the gash started bleeding. Lucius ran inside the school and grabbed a paper towel. He darted back outside and pressed it to his mother’s head.
All the while, Lucius prayed as he had learned at home and at church. Tears crowded his eyes as he thought of how his mother had put him behind her, protecting him from the rocks with her own body.
“I’m fine,” she said, holding the paper towel against her head.
Lucius knew his mother would never complain. He put an arm around her waist while they walked home.
“I don’t want to stay here,” he said when they arrived. “You said that people here were nice, but they’re not.”
“We can be angry, or we can go on being friendly,” his mother said. “Remember that there are lots of good people in the world and right here in our town.”
That evening, Lucius saw people walking up the sidewalk to his house. They carried cakes and pies.
The first woman handed him a white cake. “Please take this and enjoy it,” she said.
Before Lucius could thank her, the next person in line gave his mother a chocolate cake. “We want you to know that what happened to you is not who we are.”
“Looks like we’re going to have a party,” his mother said. She smiled widely and cut into the chocolate cake. She continued serving pieces of cake and pie until every one had been fed. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our new home and new friends.”
Lucius never forgot his mother’s example. He graduated from high school and went to college. He wrote books about people getting along and looking beyond the color of their skin.
Years later, Lucius returned to the town where he had gone to school. A classmate who worked at his old school asked him to speak to the students.
Lucius told the story of the rock-throwing incident and his mother’s reaction to it. “You have the power to make a difference by deciding to love your neighbor,” he told the students. “Just as my mother did and just as Jesus taught.”
“There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others. Let us not dwell on the critical or the negative.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Ensign, May 2006, 61.