Don H. Staheli Speaks on "It's the Principle of the Thing"

Don H. Staheli, an alumnus of the Master of Social Work program, delivered the 2011 Honored Alumni Lecture on Thursday, October 6, 2011. Having just recently returned from being mission president in Paris, France, Staheli has also served as the personal assistant to President Gordon B. Hinckley and is currently the assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

With three different educational degrees in history, international management, and social work, Staheli noted, “the most important of all was my Master of Social Work degree. The MSW is where I really was, from my perspective, educated.” He went on to say, “Do not hesitate if you have the opportunity to take courses in the School of Social Work. You will not regret it in the least.” Staheli’s lecture was titled “It’s the Principle of the Thing,” and revolved around the importance of knowing and understanding principles before we can make good judgment. “As you base your life on principles, you will gain experience and learn good judgment,” he said. “You’ll learn how to behave, which will give you good experience, which will enhance your wisdom. You can’t teach good judgment, but you can learn it.”

Staheli told a story from just a few weeks ago when he went on a jog. As he ran, he began to hear dogs barking in the distance – angry barking. “It started to get louder and louder, and it became clear that they were coming towards me. A whole pack of them, and they were coming toward me on the same road,” he recalled. He looked at a fence post on the side of the road, about six inches in circumference. “Well, maybe I can perch on that,” he thought in efforts to protect himself, but as they got closer, he found a different sort of protection, and from deep down inside of him came an abrupt growl. He turned to the dogs and said “Go home!” in a stern voice. They stopped, but didn’t turn around, so he yelled it again. “Literally, tails between legs, they left.”

“As we stand firm against the evils of life they will vanish along with the fear they cause.” Staheli said. “We have to have the courage to stand firm for the things we know are right. I doubt any of you will meet farm dogs on a dark country road, but you meet other enemies. Satan has no power until we begin to listen to the [his] voice. And when we don’t listen to our natural man voice or the voice of Satan, they will cease.”

Speaking of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Staheli remarked that the brethren share their own stories and experiences in hopes that we will understand the principles behind them. “I am very hopeful that we were learn the principles of truth, the principles that lead a holy life, that we might fulfill the measure of our creation.” 

To listen to this lecture, visit our lecture archives.