Hilary Weber was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and received an associate degree from Ricks College. She met her husband, Dan, in her home ward building on her first Sunday back from serving in the Chile Santiago South mission. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and then her law degree from Texas A&M School of Law. After waiting for six years (and right after she passed the Texas State Bar), the Webers welcomed twins into their family, and have since had two more children. Hilary practiced family law, probate law, and wills & estate law from home so she could be a stay-at-home mom without the distractions of court dates and filings. In 2011, she began teaching online classes for BYU-Idaho, a venture that has allowed her to primarily be a mom while also having a network outside the home. She especially loves being part of the school that influenced the rest of her life.
Please respond to the questions below on the devotional discussion board:
What are some skills and/or talents in your own family history (or that you have personally) that have benefited your life or the people around you? The skills and talents can include anything from mechanical to occupational to musical or even personal qualities, like grit, etc.
It is a blessing and honor to be with you today. I have loved this place since my days at Ricks College in large part because of the people I have met and known from here. For this reason, I am thrilled to be part of the Spirit of Ricks that is embodied here, and ironically, I am going to start our discussion with a poll question about friction in relationships. Are you logged into slido.com? Here is my first question to you: Who is someone in your life that you find yourself having contentious disagreements with the most for whatever reason?
If someone you love and respect came to you and asked, “Will you please try very hard to be a peacemaker to this person for an entire nano-second, or one billionth of a second?” do you think you could do it?
I realize this seems like a simple and silly request, because a nano-second is a really short period of time. However, Elder Lance B. Wickman used that word to describe mortality, which is like a “nano-second of our eternal existence.”  We also learn from Abraham that the purpose of this nano-second is for us to try to prove to our Father in Heaven that we “will do all things whatsoever [that] God shall command” of us.  And God is asking us through His apostles “to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create, to cherish peace.”  How can we accomplish this request by someone we love? I believe we can use our nano-second in mortality to create peace by understanding and then using a concept of pluralism to the world around us.
Before your eyes glaze over after hearing my proposal, I have one last question for you on slido.com. Please answer the following question: Do you know what pluralism means?
Simply put, pluralism allows a diversity of cultures to live and engage together in relative peace because they agree to live under a “shared moral framework.”  Pluralism is not being able to live side by side with differences,  but it requires engagement with others who are different. Therefore, pluralism allows us to be different yet find a way to be one  through a “shared moral framework.” For example, BYU-Idaho has created a moral framework in the form of the Honor Code. Here is a picture of some of the students I have had as an online instructor, and I have grown a deep love and respect for them. These students come from all over the United States and the world with perspectives that are shaped by their different cultures, views on religion, and even fields of study. However, once you enroll at BYU-I, each of you agree to be tied together and to this school under a shared moral framework of academic honesty and dress standards. You might not personally agree with those standards, but you agree to follow them or be held accountable while attending this school. Therefore, pluralism does not promise conformity of ideas, but it can create an environment for a peaceful exchange of ideas.
The key to pluralism becomes finding what that “shared moral framework” is that ties a diversity of cultures together so you can engage in peace whether it is in your community, your family, or even at church. This devotional will focus on the “shared moral framework” in your BYU-Idaho community because I believe this is relevant to you as students, whether you are on campus or online, since part of this university’s mission is to teach you how to be leaders “in your homes, the Church, and in your communities.”  I must warn you from the start that the solutions are simple, but that does not mean it will be easy.
Understanding the definition of “culture” is vital to a shared moral framework because it helps us see the benefits and to anticipate potential friction in relationships. On the discussion board, I asked for you to share what the skills and talents are in your own family history, and you could include yourself in that response. There were so many very inspiring responses and family stories shared with examples that ranged from technical skills like automotive repairs, music, art, learning languages, and amazing character qualities like hard work, service, and faith. One student, Limna, is a food science major because of how she was practically raised in the kitchen surrounded by family and ancestors who loved to cook and owned their own restaurants. She explains, “I was . . . taught how to make just about anything by simply being given a verbal list of ingredients. I can eat almost any meal and recreate it! . . .The legacy my ancestors have left has made me everything I am.” I have no doubt the people around Limna will greatly benefit from the delicious food she will make and teach her own kids one day to do the same.
I asked this question because the definition of cultures “include not only customs, values and attitudes, but also skills and talents.”  Therefore, you can share the same race or religion with your neighbor but have very different cultures. The blessing of culture is that these skills and talents end up following that person (or group of people) wherever he or she goes. For example, historically, Germans have excelled in “building pianos” and in “military skills.”  So, wherever Germans went in the world—like Australia, France, Russia, England, South America, and the United States—you would find magnificent pianos and/or great military leaders. 
My great-grandfather Paul R Zimmerman left his homeland of Germany for the United States in 1889 because he loved America and wanted freedom. Soon after arriving, he enlisted in the Army, where he served throughout the rest of his life. According to his military records, he was a sharpshooter, an expert rifleman, and served at one of the highest ranks as a sergeant major in the Army. His records describe his service as “honest and faithful.” Clearly, Paul Zimmerman brought his skills and talents to benefit the US Army.
Another example of a person’s native skills and talents following her is my mother-in-law, Ursula Kaelin Weber, who emigrated alone at the age of 20 from Switzerland to the United States and later married a good-looking boy from Rexburg. Her Swiss skills and talents that she brought with her include the ability to learn multiple languages, a strong work ethic, and an emphasis on education which allowed for her nine children to benefit from the many educational opportunities in the United States, including BYU-Idaho. All of her nine children have college degrees, with the majority receiving graduate degrees in business, mathematics, law, and medicine. These developed skills and talents have enriched multiple communities from the many different places that this family of 11 has lived.
It is easier for us to see the benefits of cultural diversity when we realize that a person’s skills and talents are part of the definition. They are the very reason why we need each other to really succeed: because not one group of people possess all the talents and skills.  It is not enough to coexist, but engagement with each other allows our skills and talents to combine, which is when we can experience an explosion of enlightenment and prosperity that improves the lives of everyone around us. Think about the automobile you used to even get to Rexburg. A “United Nations of innovators” from Italy, Germany, and England helped pave the way for the internal combustion engine.  This is just one of many temporal examples I could use, but my favorite example comes in the form of an explosion of spiritual enlightenment with the early Saints while building the Kirtland Temple. They were physically weakened by a cholera outbreak, and financially in debt. Despite these setbacks, children and women stepped in to complete the jobs “men usually filled.”  These poor Saints “quarried stone, hauled it to the temple lot, and built up the temple walls day by day” with the help of women like Emma Smith and Vilate Kimball, who used their skills and talents to feed and make clothes so these workers had warmth and strength to finish the building. 
What was the result of this combined labor of skills and talents? “The Lord had endowed the Saints with power, and Kirtland was flourishing beneath the towering steeple of the temple.”  This remarkably distinct building, for that time, was erected in a backward town of Ohio surrounded by few log cabins or industry. However, the prophet Elijah came to the house of the Lord built by those humble Saints and revealed a power, exaltation, which produced an explosion of spiritual enlightenment that the Saints did not know was possible for the ordinary masses.  I am so grateful that these Saints, who came from different cultures, used their nano-second in mortality to combine their skills and talents so we all could be “edified together” and know that someone as ordinary as myself can achieve exaltation. 
I wanted to spell out these blessings from cultural diversity because “there is an opposition in all things.”  Those same talents and skills that create so much good can also create resentment, jealousy, and aggression within a community. When that happens, cultural diversity becomes a barrier, but we do not want to reject it because we will also lose the blessings that can come with it. Instead, we can turn to our shared moral framework in order to create peace and stability. Joseph Smith showed us how we can do this during the Saints’ tumultuous relationship with the people of Missouri. W.W. Phelps gives us a great description of their cultural differences:
“The inhabitants are emigrants from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas, &c. with customs, manners, modes of living and a climate entirely different from northerners, and they hate Yankees worse than snakes.” 
It is clear that the “Yankee” Saints desperately needed a shared moral framework to have any hope of peaceful engagement. The people of Missouri felt threatened by their very real differences and changes to their communities from migration, religion, economics, and politics. These hostilities and fears resulted in the arrest of Joseph Smith and other Church leaders on charges of treason.
What was the Prophet Joseph’s reaction to this injustice while awaiting trial in Liberty Jail? To try and appeal to their civic “shared moral framework” in order to persuade the people of Missouri not to fear the Saints. The Prophet did this by having Edward Partridge go before the Missouri state legislature and give a speech that said, in part:
“In laying our case before your honorable body, we say that we are willing, and ever have been, to conform to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and of this state.” 
In essence, he is saying, “Hey, you do not need to fear us, because we believe in following the same laws as you, and this ties us together and allows us to be on common ground.” That belief, in obeying the laws, is our civic shared moral framework. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” also informs us that every mother and father has a sacred responsibility to teach their children to “be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”  The blessings of obeying the laws might come in ways we do not anticipate, because we know that the Saints were still driven out of Missouri. However, the blessings came from the people of Quincy, Illinois, who were moved by the Saints and took them in as refugees because they found them to be “an industrious and harmless people.” 
At the same time, I have had several students from other countries express to me how difficult it is for them to believe that obeying the law will have any effect, especially considering how corrupt their political leaders are. This can make life challenging, and Yeah Samake, a political leader from Mali, West Africa, faced this very issue almost a decade ago. He came to campus last May to present to the University Forum and related his very inspiring story of how he decided to run for mayor of his village with an emphasis on leading with integrity, which is being honest in your public and private life. After he won, he persuaded his people that great things could happen if they lived with integrity by following the laws in the form of paying their taxes, as less than 10% paid taxes. This was a huge leap of faith for these people, and it was followed by remarkable results. By the end of Yeah Samake’s term, 100% paid their taxes, and their village went from being ranked in the bottom 5 cities to the top 7 out of the 704 cities in Mali. Yeah Samake credits this unbelievable progress to the idea that “consistent small actions focused on others bring about extraordinary results.” 
This focus on others brings us back to our first poll question. I want you to keep that person from the poll in mind for this last part of our discussion. Our devotional last week by Brother Davis discussed one way we can find joy and peace in this life is by serving others. Like Yeah Samake, showing an unselfish love for our neighbor  can strengthen our ties to our civic shared moral framework and create an atmosphere of peace that paves the way for prosperity. How can we accomplish showing an unselfish love for our neighbor on a civic level? For Yeah Samake, the answer was to give up his life in the United States and go back to live in his home country of Mali and share his newly developed skills and talents with his people. You will have to figure out what the Lord is asking you to do with your own skills and talents.
However, I would like to offer a simple tactic that has helped me develop a love for my neighbor and creates peace in our conversations. It is to simply never question the motives  or sincerity of the other person. This means that in your disagreements you assume the other person wants to make the world a better place, just like you, but you simply disagree on how to do it. Another way to phrase this is that “we can politely disagree without being disagreeable. We can acknowledge the sincerity of those whose positions we cannot accept. We can speak of principles rather than personalities.” 
Let me offer some examples of statements I have either read or heard that show someone questioning the motives of the other:
- “If you truly understand the issues, you would think differently.”
- “Compassionate people want certain policies.”
- “You are being intellectually dishonest.”
Can you see how the assumptions in these statements might create a hostile environment? Instead, our responses could be:
- “It sounds like you have put some thought into this issue.”
- “I can see how passionate you are about this topic.”
- “I appreciate hearing your perspective.”
As we acknowledge the sincerity of others, we turn our focus from our own thoughts to our neighbors. This small action can create a peaceful environment that can allow for a healthy debate and exchange of ideas.
I would like to close by sharing a very simple and ordinary personal example. Not too long ago, two women knocked my door to share a message with me about their religion as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had flashbacks of doing the same thing on my mission 18 years prior to the wonderful people of Chile. The two women were younger than me, and seemed tired but determined. I allowed them to share their message uninterrupted. When it was my turn to speak, I felt impressed to say the following: “I am very happy with my religion, and I want you to know how much I admire and respect your dedication to your deeply held beliefs.”
They looked at me stunned. After a couple of seconds of silence, one woman responded with a sincere smile on her face, saying, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.” It warmed my heart to see their faces light up, and I wished them all the best. They left in what had to be the fastest turnaround with the most positive interaction of rejection for unsolicited door knocking in history!
Pluralism does not promise conformity of ideas. Instead, it allows us to be different and find a way to be one through a shared moral framework. By choosing to follow the laws and showing an unselfish love toward your neighbor, you will use your nano-second in mortality to create peace in your communities and lead the people around you with integrity. I pray for this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 “Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: ‘Same-Gender Attraction’,” Newsroom; mormonnewsroom.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction.
 Abraham 3:25.
 Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Reconciliation,” Ensign, Nov. 2018.
 “Difference and Dignity,” Newsroom, Oct. 24, 2014; mormonnewsroom.org/article/difference-and-dignity.
 Multiculturalism is defined as different cultures living side by side without a requirement for a shared moral framework. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel explained the unintended consequence of the multiculturalism experiment in their country, "Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies and therefore remains a ‘life lie,’” because it created isolated communities which failed to assimilate. See “Multiculturalism is a Sham, Says Angela Merkel”, The Washington Post, by Rick Noack, 14 Dec 2015 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/12/14/angela-merkel-multiculturalism-is-a-sham/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cd6a502d1e47
 See “We Don’t Need to Be the Same to Be One,” LDS Media Library; lds.org/media-library/video/2017-01-003-we-dont-need-to-be-the-same-to-be-one?lang=eng.
 Mission Statement, BYU-Idaho.
 Thomas Sowell, Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective, 2015, p. 96.
 “Difference and Dignity,” Newsroom, Oct. 24, 2014; mormonnewsroom.org/article/difference-and-dignity.
 Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge, Capitalism in America: A History, 2018, p. 103.
Saints: Volume 1, 2018, p. 210.
Saints: Volume 1, 2018, p. 243.
 See “19: The Spirit of God,” The Mormon Channel; mormonchannel.org/listen/series/saints/19-the-spirit-of-god.
 Doctrine and Covenants 84:110.
 2 Nephi 2:11
 Ontario Phoenix, Sep. 7, 1831.
 History of the Church, 3:224.
 Articles of Faith 1:12.
 “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995.
The Baltimore Sun, June 24, 1839, p. 4.
 Yeah Samake, “Leading the Charge for Development in Mali”; video.byui.edu/media/Yeah+Samake+%E2%80%9CLeading+the+Charge+for+Development+in+Mali%E2%80%9D/0_w0xyjuxq/11897212.
 James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 1983, p. 369 n. 6 – Elder Talmage gives a formula for how we can spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and make positive changes in our community. “The gospel of Jesus Christ, which shall yet regenerate the world, is to prevail – not by revolutionary assaults upon existing governments, nor through anarchy and violence – but by the teaching of individual duty and by the spread of the spirit of love. When the love of God shall be given a place in the hearts of mankind, when men shall unselfishly love their neighbors, then social systems and government shall be formed and operated to the securing of the greatest good to the greatest number.”
 “Milton Friedman / Rose Friedman 2003 Interview - Free to Choose / Power of Choice”; youtube.com/watch?v=LhRJlie-7xY&t=5s.
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 131.