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Familiarity Among Strangers

We should develop an appreciation for the diversity around us and see everyone as fellow citizens in the household of God.

Anyone who has visited another country may attest that it can be deeply disorienting to exit the plane and find yourself immersed in an unfamiliar culture. I know the feeling well—when I was about 11, my family and I traveled from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Mérida, Mexico, where we would spend the next two months. I recall that as I emerged from the airport terminal into a humid Mexican night, I felt as if I had entered a different world.

When faced with unfamiliarity, we might want to withdraw into ourselves or seek out the familiar. In his devotional address, “Therefore Ye Are No More Strangers and Foreigners,” Dr. William G. Eggington acknowledges that this is a natural inclination, but “it’s not what Heavenly Father wants us to do.”

We live in greater practical proximity than ever before to people of other cultures. Dr. Eggington explains, “In the age of proximity, the strangers and foreigners are coming to us.” We don’t have to get on a plane anymore to find ourselves surrounded by people who might speak different languages, eat different foods, and have different habits. 

hands of different color being held up

Photo by Anna Shvetz

But how do we deal with so much strangeness? Dr. Eggington explains that we should embrace it: “Our challenge then is to overcome our natural-man reluctance to interact with those who come from differentbackgrounds and to treat them as no more strangers but actual, or potential, fellow citizens with the Saints in the household of God.”

In practice, that means “developing an awareness and appreciation of the cultures and the ways of thinking” for the people around us. In our extremely diverse world, simple awareness and nonjudgmental appreciation can go a long way toward helping us reconcile ourselves to people who are different from us.

Discover more insights from William G. Eggington’s devotional address “Therefore Ye Are No More Strangers and Foreigners.”

Source: BYU Speeches  

—Simon Laraway, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights

Check out Sam Niven’s article “In Our Eyes Too” for more thoughts on diversity.

Ponder Quentin L. Cook’s talk “Hearts Knit in Righteousness and Unity” for more insights on righteousness and unity. 

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