This year’s theme for the youth is the thirteenth Article of Faith:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
So that means youth all over this country are trying to figure out what “benevolent” means (and “admonition,” but at least they generally say “benevolent” right) and a lot of their leaders are scratching their heads as well about how to explain it. Because somewhere inside we think we know what it means, but it’s hard to find the words for it.
This past Sunday while I was sitting in yet another meeting where they were trying to explain what it meant it came to me.
The word is obviously of Latin origins (at least I’m going to say that because it makes perfect sense that way, but the dictionary agrees). So I broke it down into two parts: bene and volent.
Bene sounds an awful lot like the Portuguese word, bem, which means “well” as in “I’m doing well” and “well done.” And it sounds exactly like how I would say “well” if I was faking Italian. So the first half of the word means “well.”
Volent makes you think of other similar words in English (no! not “violent!”). Words like “volunteer” and “volition.” (“Volition” means “exercise of will” if you weren’t sure.) It also reminds me of the Portuguese word vontage which means “will” as in “strong willed.” (The vol- to von- was a bit of a stretch for Brett when I told him this wonderful insight of mine, but just go with me on this.) So the second part of the word means “will,” or “wish” if you’d like.
Now when we put those to together you basically get “wishing well” (and not the kind you sing into while waiting for your true love). Which is exactly what benevolent means, wishing well for others, doing good, and having good will towards others.
Ta-da! And now you know.