The Spoken Word

Richard L. Evans


“In a Crowd”

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System, November 15, 1970. © 1970

In writing of The School of Life, Henry Van Dyke made this observation:

“You may have to live in a crowd, but you do not have to live like it. …” This is one of the most important lessons to teach our children, and one that all of us must learn. People like to live as individuals—they like to live like they personally like to live—or at least so they say. But they don’t always act that way—for there seems to be a compulsion to follow the crowd. As one evidence of this, consider the compulsion when it comes to following fashion. But as to following the crowd or living as an independent individual, we need not follow precisely the same pattern. There are bad examples as well as good ones, and we have to discriminate between the two. But there is something formidable called crowd psychology, when many seem to move compulsively, not necessarily having thought things through. And one of the urgent lessons to learn is that a wrong isn’t right just because many do it. A wrong isn’t right just because a crowd does it. And no member of a crowd is relieved of personal responsibility when he does with others what he wouldn’t do himself. A crowd is composed of individuals, and basically its acts are the acts of individuals. And before a boy or a girl (or an adult) does something he shouldn’t, takes something he shouldn’t, uses something he shouldn’t, behaves as he shouldn’t, in a crowd or with other company, he ought to pause and ask himself honestly: “Would I do this if I were alone, if I were thinking my own thoughts, and considering the consequences, without the compulsion of other people?” We are, all of us, going to carry our own record with us, our own memories, our own responsibility, whether we act in a crowd or as an individual. Abraham Lincoln had something to say on this subject: “Stand with anybody that stands right,” he said. “Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” 1 “You may have to live in a crowd, but you do not have to live like it. …”

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    Speech at Peoria, Illinois, October 16, 1854.

“Too Many Days at a Time”

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System December 6, 1970. © 1970

I heard a beloved associate say this to someone who was deep in sorrow from the loss of a loved one:

“Don’t try to live too many days at a time,” 1 he said. This counsel could well carry over to other situations and circumstances! “Don’t try to live too many days at a time.” We sometimes become so frustrated in trying to do too many things at once, in trying to decide too many things at once, that the forward motion stops, like a log jam—or like a panic when too many people try to get out of the same doorway at once. People in the first shock of sorrow may not have sufficient perspective for making far-reaching decisions. People excessively weighed down and worried become frustrated in trying to do or to decide too many things at once. There are times when we lack calm judgment and need to turn to others. And there are times when we have to trust to a source beyond human help, as we petition for guidance in earnest pleading prayer for comfort and assurance beyond ourselves. You who have pressing and complex problems, accidents, illness, sorrows, loss of loved ones; you who are worried and depressed with the pressures of living life—trying to keep your family and affairs, your interests and obligations from pulling apart: pause, pray, trust—take time to think things through; sort out what is most essential and insistent; and don’t try to carry the whole weight all at once, or decide all future decisions in one agonizing hour. Time does much; it heals—it softens sorrow. Life goes on and somehow becomes bearable, useful, even when loved ones have left us. People do adjust—millions have, millions will. And one of the worst ways of solving problems is to act in panic or pressure. We don’t know what we can do or what we can endure until we have to. But we can do much more than we sometimes think we can—and peace, comfort, and reconciliation can come. And so again, the good advice from my wise and beloved friend: “Don’t try to live too many days at a time.”

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    President Harold B. Lee.