"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
October 13, 2014
Builders or Breakers
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Fluffy and I had a grand adventure last week. Well, maybe it was a little adventure, but it was still grand. When you get old, everything that used to be little takes on grander significance.

Anyway, we got a coupon that allowed us to go apple-picking in Berryville, Virginia. I was out of apples, and this coupon allowed us to get two pecks of pick-your-own apples for just about the same cost as we would pay at the grocery store. Plus, we would be out in the autumn air, picking them ourselves.

We planned an outing at the farmer’s market, with all the photogenic excitement that entailed.

Well, Fluffy would do all the picking, seeing as how he is the one of us who has working feet. But I did my part, purchasing the coupon and bringing the camera to record the picking. And then Fluffy did his part, because he got us a hotel room the night before in the nearby town of Winchester.

He figured we could spend the night in Winchester and then wake up leisurely the next morning and go to the apple farm. We thought it would be a great experience.

Plus, the apples would not have been grown in China. The Nauvoo Times food storage specialist, Carolyn Nicolaysen, has recently informed me that American apple farmers are starting to abandon their apple orchards because supermarkets can get apples cheaper in China. Do you want to eat apples that were grown in China? I know I don’t.

I thought the whole thing would be wonderful for picture-taking. And so it would have been, if only…. Well, “if only” a couple of things. First, it happened to be raining when we woke up on Tuesday morning. It was hardly the crisp autumn day we had experienced the previous day.

This was the sort of merry scene we envisioned.

But then we reached the farm in Berryville, and it was hardly the scene of merriment we had hoped to see.

Oh, it was supposed to be a scene of merriment. The farmers had planned it to be that way, with hayrides and picnic areas, with picnic lunches and other great food for sale. But as the weary woman who accepted our coupon explained, the people from “the city” (“the city” being our nation’s capital) who had redeemed their coupons before us had ruined the whole experience for everybody.

When we asked if they would participate in the coupon program next year, she just laughed.

First, the buyers had made duplicate copies of their coupons, so that they had paid once and then visited numerous times and picked numerous pecks of apples. But as if that weren’t enough, they had gone into the orchards and thrown the apples off the trees, so that perfectly good apples were lying on the ground and rotting.

They had also left the ground littered with trash. They had done this for no earthly reason except to be lazy and mean.

These apples, which had been perfectly good for picking, were pulled from the trees and thrown on the grown by jerks from “the city” — the city in question being good old Washington, D.C.

Thus the farmers, who had expected to provide a way for city folks to experience the farming life and get some apples right off the tree, had lost their profits for the year after having been cheated by the same people they had been hoping to show how a real farm worked.

Surprise! The city slickers had, instead, shown the farmers how things are done in Washington, D.C. How silly of them. We who live outside of Washington know all about how things are done in the nation’s capital. After all, we are the voters!

The lady who told us there were no apples on the trees left to pick was more than a little disillusioned, as you might expect. She said there is no way her farm will subject itself to the hooligans from the city next year, or ever again.

Why should she? People who tear apples off the trees and throw them on the ground don’t deserve the nice things in life. The farmers still had several varieties of apples that they salvaged and stored, so we got our two pecks of apples even if Fluffy didn’t get the chance to pick them (much to his relief and my dismay). We ended up with a grand total of 43 honeycrisp apples in our refrigerator.

We have a friend who wrote a series of books where good people were described as “makers” and evil people were “unmakers.” I have thought about that for much of my life, but I think of them as “creators” and “destroyers” or “builders” and “breakers.”

This is not a new concept. In the Hindu trinity, two of the three gods in the trinity are Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. There is always a good force and a bad force in the universe. One force builds things up, and another force tears things down.

As it says in the Book of Mormon:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. (2 Nephi 2:11)

Even though I know this is the way of the world, it’s painful to see it so close to home as in an almost-local apple orchard, where people tear apples from the trees and throw them on the ground to rot just for fun. I guess I’m just old, but I don’t see the sense in it. I don’t see how it could possibly be enjoyable for anyone.

A new television show this season is “Utopia,” where an alleged cross-section of Americans were plucked out of the towns of America to populate a new village where they could start anew, just to see what kind of society they would create.

Fluffy and I have been appalled to see the fruitcakes who are living in this village. One of them, “Hex,” is a young woman whose name says it all. She says that her ideal society is one without laws or religion. She describes herself as “six feet of twisted steel and sex appeal.” It is no surprise that on the outside of the fence, she was unemployed. I don’t think she has the self-discipline to have a job.

Hex’s most obvious attribute is her loud mouth, and because she has a loud voice that she isn’t afraid to use, she became one of the community’s first leaders. Her dream for Utopia was anarchy. She actually put forth that suggestion for how the community should govern itself. And because she was so loud and forceful, and because the rest of the citizens were blockheads, they all went along.

You can imagine how it all turned out. The producers must have been delighted. It only took a few days before the citizens returned to a saner form of government.

I took one look at Hex, during the first episode of the season, and thought, “She’s a destroyer.” I haven’t changed my opinion. You can look at some people, and you just know who they are and what they are. You can see they have chosen the dark side.

They may smile, and they may be pleasant sometimes, and they may even befriend you. But when the time comes for them to stick a knife in your back or for them to unlace the corset of civilization in hidden ways or even in open ones, they are going to do it. They do it because it is fun.

You may be saying to yourself, “I’m neither a builder nor a destroyer.” If you are thinking that, you are wrong. There is no middle ground. If you aren’t actually making the effort to improve things, but are sitting on your rear end and letting other people do the work, you are firmly in the destroyer camp.

It may hurt your little feelings to hear that, and I’m sorry but — well, actually I’m not sorry. You know what the platitude says about being part of the problem if you’re not part of the solution? It’s true.

No matter what our situation, there’s something each of us can do to help somebody else. That something may be very small for some of us. It may even be a widow’s mite.

But the good thing is, I’m not your judge. God is. He knows whether you’re doing your best. And that’s what He requires — all you can do:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

I’m going to try my best to be a builder today, and I hope you do too. There are already too many breakers and too many rotten apples in the world.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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