A frequent excuse is often stated when difficult situations are confronted. We may hear people say “I don’t want to choose sides.” Or even more obliquely, “There are two sides to every story.” This is a false argument in virtually every circumstance worth considering. To explain, I’d like to share a story from my own past (and present).

As a young man, while still in high school, I chose to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, father and uncle. I joined the US Navy. I chose to volunteer for submarine service, and served aboard Nuclear Fast Attack submarines. Like all Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen, I took an oath. I swore to “protect and defend the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Within a short time of that oath, I found myself hundreds of feet below the waves, in pursuit of Soviet submarines. Our job, as fast attack submarine sailors, was to locate and stay in pursuit of Soviet Missile and Attack submarines. In the event of hostilities, we would be in a position to use our weapons, our torpedoes, to sink the enemy before they had the opportunity to use their weapons against the United States or our allies. And here is the significance of that oath: I did not take any time wondering about the Soviet sailors in the submarines we were pursuing. They may have been great guys, but in the event of war, I did not need to make a decision if I would defend my country. I had already decided. I had already chosen a side.

I have made other choices. I committed to my wife almost 38 years ago. That decision is made. I have made other choices as well. I chose to do all I can to protect the innocent, the vulnerable and the hopeless. I do not need to see another side, if they are being attacked, abused, or misused, it is my responsibility to stand with them. What choices have you already made? Evaluate your actions in terms of these choices. Then decide, is there really another side? I believe when it comes to our children, and their safety, there is no other side.

The oath I took over forty years ago, when I joined the US Navy as a young man, did not include an expiration date, and no one has ever released me from that oath. This is true for everyone who has served in the US military. But we all have these lifelong commitments we honor. I hope yours include our innocent children. I believe there is no other side.

Any community, or society that does not choose to stand with and protect its children will not prosper. As author Marci Hamilton (a leading legal scholar) wrote in her book Justice Denied: What America Must Do To Protect Its Children, “It is an either/or choice: we can either protect the predators or the children.

R. Wright
Editor, openNauvoo


Comments (5)

  • Helen Christensen

    I will always choose the child!

  • Esther Stringer

    This whole scenario has weighed on me all morning. What are we thinking? Who are we following? I am reminded of my favorite scene in “American Tale” where the rat is trying to convince the mice he’s really a good guy. When they’re not convinced he finally asks, “Who are you gonna believe – me or your own eyes?”

    Who are we gonna believe? What is going on? I’ve lived a lot of different places, but nowhere would ward members have tolerated their children being victimized for the sake of any adult. This is not that complicated! Maybe it’s about time we get some professionals here talking to all our children individually and find out how far this abuse has stretched.

    Who are we gonna follow? We each made that choice before we were born. Maybe it’s about time to stand up once again. What would the Lord want us to do? Protecting our children isn’t enough. We also need to help them heal. All of them.

    • Tom Bailey

      I totally agree and sadly there are people here already that are trained but no one is interested in tapping those resources

  • Irene Tukuafu

    Being that this is Valentines day….I too want to express my feelings on this matter that has been a topic of discussion for a long time. I so love the children….I had 14. I didn’t teach them of possible abuse by older children or men or women. I didn’t think it would or could happen to my children. I find out later…even only 4 months ago……. that there was at least one child molested by an older teen while my boy was only very little…not even 8 years old. I found that another grandson has had a similar problem, only a few days ago. WE ALL need to be more educated and not make this another “sweep under the rug” and not address it head on because it’s “uncomfortable to talk about”. Truth is the standard of any true progress. I will always stand for the children. Let us all read and prepare to help the children that we have an influence for good with. Aloha, Irene Tukuafu

  • Tom Bailey

    I just spent a half hour typing out my thoughts and suggestions here but decided to delete and just say this. There are no grey areas here, there is only right or wrong. To harbor KNOWN child harmers makes those who harbor just as guilty as the slime themselves. For us here in Nauvoo that care what happens to the children, it’s time we say to the child harmers, “Your day of harming children in and around Nauvoo is OVER!” We can then purchase them a bus ticket back their mums in Utah or to Southern Mexico or we can turn our blind eye which has been the very problem here for a long time. To those that give refuge and harbor these slime balls, who drive around certain neighborhoods trying to intimidate the victims and pull up and park (lawfully) near the parks where the children victims play and who have formed clicks in the Churches we must say to them, “Your day of supporting, harboring and giving aid and comfort to those who have and will do it again, your day is OVER!”

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