I want you to think for a moment about what you would do if you had the power to put an end to a human trafficking ring. The answer seems obvious, right? A few weeks ago, a report was published that detailed a human tracking ring in Rotherham England. The report showed that from 1997 to 2013, “at least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation.” These young girls “had been beaten, raped, and trafficked by organized gangs in northern England over a period of 16 years.”
Shockingly, this isn’t even the worse part of the story. The report revealed that law enforcement, social workers and even a Member of Parliament knew this was going on since 2002, but did nothing to stop it. Why might you ask?
Since the perpetrators of these crimes were all men of Pakistani heritage, the authorities feared of being labeled “racist,” if they did anything. When Roger Stone was the City Council leader in 2003, he admitted that the reason the city council didn’t intervene was out of fear of “being labelled racist.” They worried about the sexually abused “victims” identifying their abusers as Asian men. Thus, inviting outrage from the politically correct crowd.
Roger Stone wasn’t the only politician who stood by and did nothing. Denis MacShane, a member of the Labor party who represented Rotherham in Parliament from 1994 to 2012, told the BBC that the reason he hadn’t done anything about because he didn’t want “to rock the multicultural community boat.”
Apparently, the fear of rocking the boat was a systemic problem in Rotherham. In 2002, a report was presented to government officials, verifying the existence of a sex trafficking ring in the city. But once it was made known that the perpetrators were men from Pakistani heritage, the government officials told this person (who requested to remain anonymous) “that you must never refer to that again, you must never refer to Asian men.” The individual who filed the report said she was required to take “a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues,” which according to one account, she almost failed!
If there is one lesson to be learned from this, it’s that courage is among the most important traits a person can have. These girls didn’t need a team of Navy Seals to rescue them; all they needed was for their local leaders to have the courage to stand up against powerful social forces and do what was right. Societal forces are only going to become stronger in the future, and the ability to stand for what is right will be more challenging.
In 2003, Elder Bednar told the graduating class, “that…each and every one of you will need to be blessed with the gift of courage.” He then quoted President Ezra Taft Benson showing the reason why they would need this gift.
“I testify that as the forces of evil increase under Lucifer’s leadership and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus Christ, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation. As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested.” (President Ezra T. Benson)
It’s encouraging that Elder Bednar referred to the attribute of courage as being a gift, which should fill us with hope knowing that God will grant us this essential virtue to face the challenges ahead. Like all things of value, these gifts are developed over time, line upon line. The late civil rights leader Maya Angelou said, “One isn’t born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things…small things, but things that cost you some exertion – mental and, I suppose, spiritual exertion.
The natural man wants pleasure, not pain. Perhaps this is the reason, so few people have this gift. But there are things we can do to strengthen our resolve in times of weakness. We can study the lives of the great men and women from history, who showed what it means to have courage. People like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Tyndale, and Edith Cavell. Not to mention the many examples found in the scriptures. Elder Bednar promised the graduating class in 2003:
“The courage you will need can be invited into your life through fervent prayer and diligent study of the Book of Mormon. Let me suggest that one of the primary reasons so much information is recorded about war in the Book of Mormon is to help you and me in these latter days appropriately seek the gift of courage.” (Elder Bednar)
We don’t have to fear what lies ahead; we can learn to trust that God will give us the tools and gifts to “not be moved.” If we haven’t already done so, it’s imperative to our own spiritual development, and that of our families, that we begin today to develop this great gift of courage.