When President McKay saw children from many nations gathered around that flagpole in Laie, he envisioned a world where people live together “united in brotherhood.” The gospel teaches us that we are brothers and sisters because God is our Father. This simple but profound truth underlies why we must strive to live together in love and peace. For we are family, no matter our differences.
Paul speaks about the brotherhood of man in Acts 17 in his famous sermon on Mars Hill TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The God who was unknown to the Greeks is our Father in Heaven—a loving, personal God whom we may “feel after . . . For we are also his offspring” (17:27-28), and He “hath made of one blood all nations of men” (17:26).
I was struck by this last phrase when we read it in a Tokyo Sunday School class, for I had recently learned that it is found in the 1839 Hawaiian Declaration of Rights. The Declaration begins "’God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth,’ in unity and blessedness. God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands." As the Hawaiian Declaration recognizes, human rights and human dignity ultimately flow from the fact that we are brothers and sisters of a Father in Heaven.
It is fashionable today to blame religion for war. I believe that true religion provides the firmest ground for lasting peace. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said on this campus: “Mankind has not had much success in keeping the second commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves without also keeping the first great commandment of loving God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. Try as mankind may to achieve the brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God, it is cosmetic, and it does not last!”
As I looked around the class, I saw Latter-day Saints from many nations, some of which had been at war seventy years ago, when my country dropped two dreadful, devastating bombs on Japan. Now we were gathered as brothers and sisters, in a chapel next to a temple, united in the knowledge that God truly is our father. As such, He loves all his children, in every nation.
And we must love them too. Surely it must grieve Heavenly Father when his children hate, hurt, and even kill each other. While I believe in the possibility of just wars, as I have frequently told my children: in God’s eyes, all wars are civil wars. Even just wars must break the Lord’s divine heart. And even in war, God never authorizes us to hate.
Such are the implications of the fundamental truth that God is our Father and we are his children.
We concluded Sunday School class by singing “I Am a Child of God.” I love this Primary song. A relative, Mildred Tanner Pettit, wrote the music. I have heard it sung around the world, in many languages. I felt again the power of its simple but profound message. If all people could but come to know the unknown God of which it speaks—whose offspring they are and who has made of one blood all nations—they would realize that they are brothers and sisters. This understanding provides the foundation for the peaceful world “united in brotherhood” that President McKay envisioned.