What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
My maternal grandfather was a man whom everybody loved. He was the type who would make friends in the most random places—the grocery store clerk, bank teller, gas station attendant, and everywhere in-between. Well loved and quick to complement, he is remembered for his warm heart and sincere interest in the lives of those around him.
One of my last memories of him occurred shortly after I returned home from my mission. Already declining in health and memory from congestive heart failure and dementia, Granddad was walking and remembering a little less each day. While my mother took Grandma out to run some errands, I was asked to keep Granddad company. We walked around the parking lot of his town home complex a few times, had a quick bite to eat, and then read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together. At the close, Granddad offered a prayer. Despite so many things he could have asked for in that moment, the entire prayer revolved around me. He petitioned Heavenly Father for my health, my success, and my future. He cared about and was interested in my life more than his in that moment. I was providing him company for a couple of hours, but he was providing me a worthy example and role model of what a Christlike man does.
In his honor and in remembrance of his life of service and love, we have chosen to give our new son my Granddad’s first name as his middle name. Continuing a common practice of passing family names down through the generations, it is our desire to let Granddad’s legacy live on through our son. As a parent, I can only hope that I will do an effective job at instilling these characteristic traits and virtues into my son so that he will do honor to the name he shares.
Hundreds of years ago, when speaking to his sons, the prophet Helaman explained his intent better than I could my own:
Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good. (Helaman 5:6)
So, little guy, I can’t wait to tell you stories about the man whose name you share. Chances are, you already got to know him before you were born. If so, you know what a great role model and example you have to look up to. Granddad was full of love and loved to laugh. I’m sure you two will have a lot in common.