If you dare, visit Mexico.
Once there, spend half a day with a Mexican family.
You'll leave with a deep impression.
Mexicans adore their children.
Whenever I see parents doting on their kids — in Mexico, Manitoba or Moab — I think of Victorian England the culture's notions of the "beautiful child."
When the Victorians looked at children, they saw all the virtues they wished they had themselves — authenticity, curiosity, purity, grace. The idea of the "beautiful child" has become, in our era, prominent in the LDS culture.
It's also a big reason Mexicans make such natural Mormons.
Unlike the United States, Mexico actually has a Children's Day. And the most beloved park in Mexico City is the Alameda, known as the Children's Park. On Sunday afternoons the place is awash with balloon vendors, jugglers and dozens of other distractions for the tots.
On Mule Day, parents dress their youngsters like mule skinners, complete with sombreros, serapes and painted mustaches. Instead of herding mules, however, they carry tiny, caged birds.
On Christmas Eve, it's always the kids.
Years ago, columnist Clifton Jolley wrote a piece for the paper where he simply typed the word "children" over and over dozens of times.
Mexicans — especially LDS Mexicans — would understand that column perfectly.
They write it in their minds every day.
Now, getting back to that family in Mexico you're visiting.
Imagine a child in that family coming to his father and asking for bread, but all the father has to offer are stones.
Imagine the boy asking for a fish, but his father can only give him a serpent.
In a culture that's all about children, imagine watching your own children suffer.
Imagine the LDS missionaries visiting and leaving a copy of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."
Imagine him reading it.
Imagine him deciding to counsel with his friends about his options.
He enlists relatives to watch over his home.
He makes careful arrangements.
Where he's going he will surely be despised.
For what he's doing he may be punished.
He's ready for that as well.
But then this was never about him anyway.
And it never will be.
It is about the children, children, children, children, children, children, children,
Always and forever, today and tomorrow, it will be about the children.
Jerry Johnston is a Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in Mormon Times.