Bridges of Cooperation: Parallelism in Russell M. Nelson’s “Be One” Celebration Address

Nelson_beone_2
President Russell M. Nelson

In his address at the recent “Be One” celebration that commemorated the 40th anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood, President Russell M. Nelson made use of parallelism to emphasize the need to treat everyone as equals.

After reviewing the Lord’s “essential doctrine of equal opportunity for His children”, by referencing Matthew 22:36-40 and D&C 38:24-25, President Nelson shared three sequential parallelisms to stress the importance of applying this doctrine into our lives. These parallelisms were arranged to build in intensity, climaxing with the third parallelism. This building in intensity was created through form — the first two being less clearly parallel and the third being unmistakably parallel — and content — the first two providing a case study and doctrinal basis and the third providing a summary statement containing universally understandable metaphors.

This paper presents a diagram and detailed analysis of each parallelism.


President Nelson’s first parallelism describes the process of faithful people joining the Church throughout the world and becoming one, as “[d]ifferences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance”:

A: On every continent and across the isles of the sea,
B: faithful people are
C: being gathered
D: into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A: Differences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance as
B: the faithful
C: enter the covenant path and come
D: unto our beloved Redeemer.

A=A: By mentioning “every continent”, “the isles of the sea”, and “culture, language, gender, race, and nationality”, President Nelson is addressing all forms of prejudice throughout the world.

B=B: Faith is the first principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, followed by repentance. Likewise, faith is the first step in overcoming prejudice, as the light of the Gospel heals our minds and hearts.

C=C: “[B]eing gathered” and entering into “the covenant path” is a commitment to follow Christ and live by his teachings. This enables us to forgive and see the divinity in others.

D=D: Overcoming prejudice is made possible by Jesus Christ, whose priesthood and ordinances are available in His restored church. No form of prejudice is beyond His healing reach.


In his second parallelism, President Nelson declares that prejudice is fully overcome through comprehending “the true Fatherhood of God”. This understanding opens our eyes to the divinity of the human family.

Ultimately, we realize that
A: only the comprehension of
B: the true Fatherhood of God
A: can bring full appreciation of
B: the true brotherhood of men
B: and the true sisterhood of women.

A=A: “[C]omprehension” leads to “appreciation”. The more we comprehend that God is the literal father of the human family, the more we appreciate each other.

B=B: If God is our father, then we are all brothers and sisters.


Lastly, in his third parallelism, President Nelson encourages us to develop a mindset of “cooperation” that brings people together.

That understanding inspires us with passionate desire to
A: build bridges
B: of cooperation
A: instead of walls
B: of segregation.

A=A: “[B]ridges” is antithetical to “walls”.

B=B: “[C]ooperation” is antithetical to “segregation”.

The power of this final parallelism — from its combined form and content — drew an approving applause from the audience.


Conclusion:

In calling on the people of the world and the membership of the Church to overcome prejudice of any kind, President Nelson effectively used parallelism to enhance his message, making it more memorable and powerful.

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