Reflecting upon the tragedy of today's events reminds me that we live in a world where people are free to choose between good and evil. So how can we find peace? How can we stop the evils we're witnessing in shootings, bombings, and other acts of terror and violence?
The only true and lasting way to peace is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. President John Adams, one of our founding fathers, stated, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Only by changing the hearts of men so that they choose, of their own will, to live moral lives can we ultimately enjoy freedom from crime and terror. As we're seeing in Iraq, no constitution of the people can guarantee freedom from evil. Freedom, and therefore peace, can only come when a people live morally of their own accord.
How can we preach the gospel of peace that leads to freedom from evil? It must first begin in the home. Every killer had a mother and father. As parents, we must take the sacred responsibility to raise our children in such a way that they will seek peace, love their neighbors, and respect others' freedom. Not all children of good parents choose the right path, but if more parents made their children a higher priority, particularly above their own interests, fewer children would choose to harm others.
Parents can best help their children by raising them with the gospel. Whether LDS or not, Christian parents need to be active participants in their churches and ensure that their children are too. Mothers also need to make their children their highest priority, staying home full-time where possible. Parents must do all they can to love each other and avoid divorce. Finally, parents must treat their children with love, respect, and kindness and avoid abuse which can build up anger and teach destructive social skills.
Second, we must be better missionaries and do more to support missionary work around the world. The gospel of Jesus Christ can do more to change a person's heart than anything else (see Alma 5:12-14). We should pray continually that countries not currently open to the Church will permit missionaries to enter and legally share the gospel. Until that happens, we should do all we can to share the gospel ourselves. Many people from those countries come to the United States and learn of Jesus Christ and accept his gospel. They will do much in coming years to take the gospel to their own people.
Finally, until that day when the Lord reigns on the earth, we must stand united against those who would turn to violence. By so doing, the forces of evil will be more likely to choose peace. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan declared, "We live in a precarious world threatened by totalitarian forces who seek to subvert and destroy freedom. The peace we enjoy is maintained only by our strength and resolve, and it's our duty to fortify both." That council, given under threat of communism, applies today in the face of terrorism.
If we do not stand up to evil, it will continue to press us on every front. We must embrace peace wherever possible, but that peace must be backed up with the strength and will to oppose evil. If we are not united, evil will exploit our division. During his first inaugural address, President Reagan stated this position: "Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength."
America has demonstrated through its short history the peace and prosperity that accompanies righteous living. America has also proven its depth of compassion. Finally, America has shown in times past that it will not tolerate those who will hurt and kill the innocent. Satan wants the world to believe America is its enemy because in reality, America is the "the last best hope of man on Earth" (Ronald Reagan, 1964). Remember, Satan calls "evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). If we stand united against evil and for peace and compassion, the world will see through the lies and stand with us in opposing terror. If, however, we criticize ourselves and highlight the exceptions and mistakes, Satan and his hosts of wickedness will exploit this criticism to take away our ability to stop terror.
So what is the plan to peace? First and foremost, live and preach the gospel in our families and around the world. Second, maintain our strength and unity to stop terror until that time the gospel floods the earth and the Lord reigns on it.