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Choosing love over violence

“There is a place in you that you must keep inviolate, a place that you must keep clean," said the late Maya Angelou. "A place where you say to any intruder, ‘Back up, don’t you know I’m a child of God.'”
Sherry Young, Deseret News Modified: June 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm •  Published: June 26, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote the thoughtful quote, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Those are beautiful thoughts and it seems like a pretty straightforward statement. However, because so many of us are of a different mind and can get twisted in our thinking, a case can be made as to what it means to live well and what it means to be honorable, useful, compassionate and how to make a difference.

For instance, two articles from the USA Today caught my eye a few weeks ago. The first one, “Crips in Utah: Gang culture invades an unlikely turf" by Kevin Johnson, shows choices people make can cause them to change and then to justify their actions.

Johnson’s article told how Tongans who were attracted to Christianity moved from the Pacific Islands to Southern California. Then to avoid the Crips gang culture for their young people, the well-meaning people came to Utah. The shooting of Siale Angilau by a U.S. marshal as he charged the witness, who was testifying against him, focused attention to a problem.

The police knew Angilau “as ‘a ringleader’ in a group that specialized in violent ‘takeovers’ of area convenience stores, restaurants and other small businesses.”

Angilau’s uncle, Hema Katoa, saw a different side of him and his brother claiming while they “began making choices beyond our control … they maintained close ties with the family.”

Johnson continued, “Simultaneous allegiances to the gang, family and their religious faiths, authorities said, are common among TCG members — qualities that seem to shatter the profile of the typical gang member.”

Another young man was caught in a drive-by firebombing and had religious literature in his pocket, Ron Stallworth, a founder of the states gang task force, stated in the article.

These are tragic examples of young people with conflicted lives who then make errant choices. It is the same mindset that allows people to cheat on their spouses, business partners or in other ways take advantage of others.

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