Gerrit Gong, an official at the university, spoke in a devotional a while back and related the following story that I was reminded of today.
We have all had experiences where we tried to be helpful and weren’t. I once arrived early for priesthood meeting. Thinking I could help ready our classroom, I erased the blackboard dense with writing. As he began our lesson, our dedicated instructor said, with surprise but without criticism, “I came early and put our lesson on the board, but somehow it’s been erased.” The class turned out fine, but I remember the forbearance of our priesthood teacher who, incidentally, is today’s U.S. Senate majority leader.Harry Reid had taken a lot of heat among conservatives for his comments about losing the Iraq war at the time that Brother Gong made his remarks. It served as a reminder then that even when we disagree with someone, they rarely wear a hat that is all black. Today's address by Senator Reid served as a similar reminder.
Brother Reid talked about the challenging moral conditions that surrounded him as he grew up and the near reverence that his non-religious family had for FDR. After relating some touching stories from his life, including how he eloped with his wife and gained the love of his Jewish parents-in-law, he turned to the "Mormon Democrat" question. He provided a simple and familiar list of reasons he believes the ideals of the Democratic party are in line with Mormon beliefs. His first applause line came when he referred to the Iraq war as a foreign policy blunder. He received his second applause line when he acknowledged that some people view it differently.
The crowd was very respectful as I had hoped. He enjoyed a hearty welcoming applause when he stood up, and a small percentage of the audience gave him a standing ovation as he finished. Thanks to Brother Reid for spending some time with us. If you would like to view the address, you can catch it on BYU-TV for the next two weeks or so. (You have to skip in about five minutes on that link to get to the actual forum assembly.)