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Natalie Gochnour: Best way to fight evil is to do something good

Published: Friday, Aug. 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 12:31 p.m. MDT

Spence Eccles applauds as the University of Utah breaks ground on the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex, a new interdisciplinary facility, in 2011.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

I felt a certain sadness when I listened to Michelle Knight's remarks at the sentencing hearing for Ariel Castro. Knight spent 11 years in hell under the repeated torture of Castro who had kidnapped her by saying he had a puppy for her son. In her riveting testimony, Knight told the courtroom she cried every night and the years turned into eternity. In the face of this human tragedy, we are left to wonder what we can do to make this world a better place.

A dear friend introduced me to this simple phrase: we give, to get, to give again.

It's a lovely anthem that reminds us that when we receive, we have the responsibility to give. Giving then becomes a virtuous cycle. I'd like to suggest that service is the best antidote to the evil committed by people like Ariel Castro in this world.

We are fortunate to have many great examples of service in this community.

I hold Larry Miller in the upper echelon of public heroes in this town. Many of you will remember that upon his passing the family circulated one of his guiding mantras — Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world.

It's classic Larry. Do good and give it all you've got. The world needs you.

The Miller family continues to perpetuate this legacy. Gail Miller is a rock in this community, standing up for improved education, the arts and so much more. And the others, from Greg on down, share their good fortunes with all of us. A senior leader in the Miller organization told me the Millers view their assets as community assets. What a remarkable statement.

There are other great examples. The Eccles family invests time and time again in the long-term prosperity of this state. To a person they share their talent, their wit, their resources, their integrity and, most of all, their great love of place — this place, the Intermountain West — with all of us.

I once asked Spence Eccles what motivates his family's generous spirit. Without hesitation he turned to me and said, "We give because we can. Those of us with the resources to give must give. It is the same for everyone."

From this I've constructed something I call the Eccles' rule. It applies to all of us. It goes like this:

If you have the resources to give, give.

Give of your time. Give of your talent. Give of your treasures.

When my daughter left for college I was worried about her. I missed her, and I wanted the best for her. Through a chance meeting, I met a gentleman who lived near her in Phoenix. He told me his family would reach out to her. He explained he kept a list of people he was serving and my daughter was on his list.

It was a small thing, done with great love. A short time later, my daughter told me of this wonderful family in her area that reached out to her and involved her in a service project at the food kitchen in downtown Phoenix.

My daughter was on a list, a service list, and she was served.

At a time when the ugly details of an evil person such as Ariel Castro are front page news, I treasure the people in our community who unselfishly serve. We are fortunate in this state to have so many.

Let's embrace the mantra that we give, to get, to give again. Let's go about doing good until there's too much good in the world. And, let's have a list of people and organizations we can help in life. I'm confident that if we do these things we will overcome the evil that has become too commonplace in the world.

Natalie Gochnour is an associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber.

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