Elder Dallin S. Oaks’ talks always seem a disappointment to me. And his Spring 2013 General Conference talk is no exception. Since Oaks is highly educated and has been a university president and a state supreme court judge, we should expect so much more.
Oaks, early in his conference talk, quotes from John 12:43: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” He then goes on, toward the end of his speech, to brag about what the LDS Church has done in the way of humanitarian aid over the last few years. He concludes “that clearly Mormons know how to give to the poor and needy.” The irony of quoting John and then bragging, all in the same talk, seems to elude him.
First, I want to commend the LDS Church leadership for its recent humanitarian efforts. I think they are great. But as the conference reporter for BCC points out: “Mormons are good, but we’re far from the only church that’s great at providing aid and help in disasters. Some humility would serve us well here.”
Second, there is the question of the magnitude of our global humanitarian assistance. It’s my understanding that it is a very small percentage of the LDS Church’s annual budget. But since the Church doesn’t provide members with a full financial accounting, we are not sure exactly how small that number is. Certainly the information provided by Oaks in his talk didn’t shed much light on the issue.
Third, by setting a better example, Church leaders could encourage members in First World countries to do more for those in developing countries. For example, the “baby boomers” are retiring (which includes me), this leaves a wealth of professional, teacher, and craftman talent that could significantly impact the world. But there seems to be a lack of vision among the Mormon leadership, or if there is a vision, an inability to share it with the membership. And we should be just as proud of our humanitarian missionaries as we are of our procelytizing ones.
We need leadership with more of a vision as it relates to global humanitarian aid.