Editor’s note: This essay is part of Deseret Magazine’s cover story “How to heal America’s partisan divide.”

Illustration by Kyle Hilton

The media seems to inundate us with negative news. It may all be true and factual, but among every negative thing that we hear or read today, where is the good stuff?

America could be suffering from “good” deficiency, where there has been a severe lack of good. This undiagnosed anemia forces us to look for the good, when it is not presented to us.

Looking for the good is not always an excavation exercise. There are several places we could “look for the good.” 

We should look for the good in ourselves. We were amazingly designed — created a little lower than the angels. (Psalm 8:5.) Our molecular core is designed for good. Yet, we can become enamored with the belief that our success and status define who we are, but there is a far bigger and greater purpose for us than what the world would have us believe. Sometimes modeling good is how others appreciate, acquire and apply good.

Challenge yourself this year and look for the good in obscure and less obvious places.

We should also look for the good in our neighbors. Sometimes, we have a tendency to look at others through an opaque filter, with measurements that allow us to size up people and accept or discard them according to our standards. We could be better at being good, if we remove the filter, befriend people who are not like us and sit through the discomfort of the experience, without judgement. Look for good in new relationships and intentions. Challenge yourself this year and look for the good in obscure and less obvious places.

How to heal America’s partisan divide
Sen. Tim Scott: The balm of service
Jeff Flake: Turn down the volume

In his book, “Be All You Can Be,” John Maxwell, a renowned author and speaker on leadership said, “If you are unchallenged, you are unchanged. Leaders stretch with challenges. Followers struggle with challenges. Losers shrink from challenges.”

Look for the good. Build upon the good. You don’t have to look far. It’s there. It starts with you. Be the good.

Theresa Dear is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She serves at DuPage AME Church where she leads community expansion initiatives and serves on the board of REACH, a nonprofit empowerment organization.

This story appears in the January/February issue of Deseret Magazine. Learn more about how to subscribe.