So I didn't watch Conference. I don't have first hand knowledge of what Elder Packer chose to say. But I did read the Salt Lake Tribune article. It was the top story on the front page--GAYS CAN CHANGE. Fantastic.
Here's my thing. Elder Packer is entitled to his opinion. Anyone is. Say what you want, I guess. That is your first amendment right. But I also think that as a person in a position of power in a large organization, you have to be mindful of how your words and your opinions are going to reflect upon your organization. I think you should also consider your audience. When you are standing--or in Elder Packer's case, sitting--on a platform that is being broadcast out of the state, out of the country, shouldn't you get out of your Utah tunnel vision goggles?
I know very devout Mormons. I have friends, I have family, I have acquaintances that are dedicated and faithful to the LDS Church. And I'm sure that if I asked them, not a single one would want one more child to die.
These kids that have been taking their lives are tragically young. They are the future of this country, and now they are gone. One is too many. Now the count is at least at seven. Young, bright kids, with so many beautiful things and experiences ahead of them, with potential to do great things and change the world, with families and friends who love them. And they're gone now, because they couldn't bear the external and internal pressures they faced.
We think that words don't mean anything. We think the weight that words have is easy to carry. We think that we can state our opinions and no one is listening. But they were listening. Raymond, Justin, Asher, Tyler, Alec, Billy, Seth...and how many others?...they heard the message loud and clear that they weren't good enough, that God didn't love them, that they were so wrong to be who they were, and they couldn't live with it anymore.
If I was given the chance to do one thing on this earth that mattered, I would do something for them. I would try to help all these gay teenagers who are rapidly losing hope, whose lights are burning out because of the words being thrown at them. I would give them somewhere to go, to be safe, to be loved as they are, and I would try to help them know that they are beautiful and strong and just as good OR BETTER than they have been told. Being different is not a reason to die.
Life is precious. We should try to protect life and especially the lives of the children in this country. Have your opinions, but remember that you never know who is listening to what you say, and you never know if what you say will be the final straw for someone who is struggling.
I've been that kid. I've been to the brink. I've been at the edge between life and death, wanting to take the final step out of mortality and into eternity. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. If we can help, we should. If I can help, I will.
I really hope and pray with all my might that this epidemic will end.