FUNDAMENTALS IN DISCARD
Humanity is passing through one of its most crucial experiences. We are in the midst of a revolution both of thought and mode of life. Beliefs of parents are questioned, old ideals are in the discard. Communism, Naziism, Fascism, Totalitarianism are giving birth to new conceptions that strike relentlessly at beliefs and teachings which were accepted a decade ago as fundamentals and unassailable. “Under the influence of a science as superficial as proud,” writes M. Paul Gaul tier, a leading publicist of France, “old beliefs have been turned into ridicule, conscience is treated as a superstition, and honesty as a prejudice. Self-interest alone remains as a motive, and pleasure as the sole end of life. For too many people,” he continues, “evil consists not in infringing social laws, but in getting caught. Morality and duty figure in their eyes as so many prejudices out of fashion, and vestiges of centuries gone by.”
Granting the severity of this arraignment, the fact still remains that moral and religious skepticism is too generally apparent, and political chicanery, fraud, and civic unrighteousness all too common.
In the words of an assistant Secretary of State: “We seem to be slipping backward in the long march of progress. We are in danger of losing part of the precious heritage for which our ancestors fought and gave their lives. Human liberty, democracy, parliamentary government, freedom of speech, tolerance, faith — these in important parts of the world have ceased to exist. Autocracy and dictatorships are demanding men’s allegiance. Political institutions are cracking ominously. Demo- cratic government is fighting for its life.”
To climax these distracting conditions, war, with all its attendant horrors, is sweeping the earth as a devastating conflagration, leaving in its wake only ashes, agony, and death.
Truly, the time has come as perhaps never before when men should counsel together, and in wisdom determine how the world may be made a better place in which to live.
THE PERFECT GUIDE
To achieve this desired end, the first and most important step is to choose as leader one whose leadership is infallible, whose teachings when practiced have never failed. In the present tempestuous sea of Uncertain- ty, the Pilot must be one who through the storm can see the beacon in the harbor of peace.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that there is but one such Guiding Hand in the Universe, but one unfailing Light, and that the Light of Christ who said : “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” An active, sincere faith in the basic teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is the greatest need of the world. Because many reject this truth is all the more reason why sincere believers should proclaim it.
The ultimate purpose of Christianity is to develop honorable, upright individuals in an ideal society known as the Kingdom of God. No one, not even the unbeliever, can gainsay this as a most worthy goal. True, nearly two thousand years of trial have failed to bring about even an approach to the realization of either the perfecting of the individual or the establishing of an ideal society. As a result, Christianity and its handmaiden, Democracy, are now on trial before the world tribunal. The fact is, however, that conditions in this war-torn world instead of proving, that Christianity has failed, emphatically bear witness that men are forever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth ; or, as one man cynically remarked, “Men’s lives consist mostly in making the same mistakes over again.”
Christianity, as summarized in the divine admonition, “Love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself” has never yet been accepted and practiced by the nations of the world. Were that principle even partly applied, our advanced scientific knowledge, our almost unlimited mechanized power, our unexcelled opportunities for education would be directed, not as now, for the destruction of human beings, but for the betterment of individuals, and for the advancement and redemption of mankind.
As the first essential to a better world, therefore, we declare with the Apostle Peter that there is “none, other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
IMPROVEMENT IN MORALS
It is charged that “one of the distinctive traits of modern society in every country is the sinking of the moral ideal in the minds and life of the people.” Manifestly, then, a second essential in world betterment is the raising of the moral standard.
If anyone listening in is saying to himself “this is trite,” then I say such a thought itself justifies the call for men who will re-dedicate them- selves to the principles of honesty, justice, tolerance, and love, and who will practice these virtues in their business and professional activities. “And this life is possible,” as someone has declared, “in social conditions the most diverse, and with natural gifts the most unequal. It is not fortune, or personal advantage, but our turning them to account that constitutes the value of life.” “Nothing,” says Emerson, “can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
In the light of political scandals recently disclosed in some of our States, what a brilliant though discarded gem, for example, is the plain, every-day principle of honesty. Though as genuine as the blue-tinted diamond, how little it is valued in a world where “business is honey- combed with dishonesty, and the political world abounds in duplicity and chicanery.” Even to repeat such a charge makes one feel heavy-hearted. In contrast, recall the calm assurance, the confidence that pervades your soul when you konw you are in the presence of one whom you can trust. Let us re-polish, and make more brilliant this old-fashioned principle so essential to human happiness. Would that all men and nations might unite with the Church in saying:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in do- ing good to all men.
A RE-DEDICATION TO PRINCIPLES OF UNSELFISHNESS
Man needs a re-dedication to the principles of unselfishness. No peace or freedom can come to this world so long as men live only for themselves. It is true that self-preservation is the first law of nature, but it is not a law of spiritual growth. He who lets selfishness and his passions rule him binds his soul in slavery, but he who, in the majesty of spiritual strength, uses his physical tendencies and yearnings, and his pos- sessions to serve purposes higher than personal indulgence and comf ort, takes the first step toward the happy and useful life. This truth was taught not only “in the Beginning” when the Gospel was first revealed to man, but also when the Savior began His earthly ministry. On the Mount of Temptation was enacted the first scene in the Christ’s earthly drama of the abundant life. There He resisted the challenge to gratify His appetite ; He turned aside the appeal to His vanity and pride ; He scorned the bribe of worldly wealth and power, as in spiritual victory He said to the Tempter, “Get thee hence,” and “angels came and ministered unto Him.” Only thus by the brilliant triumph of the spirit over the flesh can we hope for a better world.
UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION
Finally, if we would make the world better, let us foster a keener appreciation of the freedom and liberty guaranteed by the government of the United States as framed by the founders of this nation. Here again selfproclaimed progressives cry that such old-time adherence is out of date. But there are some fundamental principles of this Republic which, like eternal truths, never get out of date, and which are applicable at all times to liberty-loving peoples. Such are the underlying principles of the Constitution, a document framed by patriotic, freedom-loving men, who Latter-day Saints declare were inspired by the Lord.
This date, October 6, has been set apart by churches as “Loyalty Day.” It is highly fitting, therefore, as a means of making the world better, not only to urge loyalty to the Constitution and to threatened fundamentals of the United States government, but to warn the people that there is evidence in the United States of disloyalty to tried and true fundamentals in government. There are unsound economic theories; there are European “isms,” which, termite like, secretly and, recently, quite openly and defiantly, are threatening to undermine our democratic institutions.
Today, as never before, the issue is clearly defined — liberty and freedom of choice, or oppression and subjugation for the individual and for nations.
As we contemplate the deplorable fact that within the brief space of one year, TEN European nations have lost their independence, that over TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION people have surrendered all guarantees of personal liberty, deeper should be our gratitude, more intense our appreciation of the Constitution, and more strengthened our determination to resist at all costs any and all attempts to curtail our liberties, or to change the underlying system of our government.
When the people who call themselves Christian militantly enlist under the leadership of the One to whom they refer as King of the World; when they accept as facts and not as theories His moral and spiritual teachings; when for selfishness they substitute kindness and thoughtfulness for others; when they aggressively defend the principles of true liberty, then may we begin to realize the hope that Wrong may be abolished, Righteousness be enthroned in human hearts, and honest relations and justice become the daily practice of society. Then, and not until then, will the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God.
Then shall all shackles fall ; the stormy clangor Of wild war music o’er the earth shall cease ; Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger, And in its ashes plant the tree of peace !
President David O. McKay
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
David O. McKay, Conference Report, Oct. 1940, 101-104.
Chapter 22 Agency and Responsibility, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, (2011), 204–13