And Joshua Liebman wrote similarly in his little book Peace of Mind: “A man may have a home, possessions, a charming family, and yet find all these things ashy to his taste because he has been outstripped in the marathon race by some other runners to the golden tape line. It is not that he does not possess enough for his wants, but that others possess more. It is the more that haunts him, makes him depreciate himself and minimize his real achievements.
“The time has come when a man must say to himself: ‘I am no longer going to be interested in how much power or wealth another man possesses so long as I can attain enough for the dignity and security of my family and myself. I am going to break through this vicious circle which always asks the question of life in a comparative degree: Who is bigger? Who is richer? Who has more? I am going to set my goals for myself rather than borrow them from others. …”
I believe that this is one thing we can learn from our youth today. They have, in many cases, set simpler values and seen through the transitory worth of material things. They recognize that ambition that leads men to seek power and domination over others brings not peace, but frustration. Certainly history is replete with examples of the rise and fall of ambitious men, and during temporary relief from hostilities between nations the cry always rises, “Now we will have peace.” How many wars have been termed “a war to end all wars”?
Just as running madly after worldly things does not bring peace, neither does sitting idly. Because our modern conveniences often leave us much time beyond that which is necessary to sustain ourselves and our families, it becomes important not to spend this time idly; for there is much to be done if we are to partake of the Lord’s peace.
Probably there is no quicker way to enjoy inner peace than by serving one another.
It is highly doubtful that there is even one soul upon the earth, regardless of station or age, who does not have ample room for personal growth and improvement. Quoting the words of one of the Lord’s prophets: “If we are no better tomorrow than we are today, we are not very useful.”
“Lin Yutang, the famous Chinese philosopher, has written: ‘We do not know a nation until we know its pleasures of life, just as we do not know a man until we know how he spends his leisure. It is when a man ceases to do the things he has to do, and does the things he likes to do, that the character is revealed. It is when the repressions of society and business are gone and when the goads of money and fame and ambition are lifted, and a man’s spirit wanders where it listeth, that we see the inner man, his real self.’”
Then he continued: “Have you ever thought much about that? Your leisure gives you away. I used to know a man who was head of a very large commercial empire. Beginning with nothing but ambition, he became a multimillionaire and, finally, retired as head of his far-flung company. He bought a large and magnificent yacht with which to cruise the world. And do you know what he did with his free time? He read salacious paperbacks and got falling-down drunk and had to be carried to bed, unconscious, every night. He’s dead now. His leisure gave him away. There was nothing there … just nothing at all. He was a one idea man. Once he was away from that idea, he was a lost child in the wilderness. He didn’t enjoy his yacht … travel meant nothing to him. He was a pitiful, unhappy cypher. Not because he was rich … there are thousands, millions just like him in every walk of life. It was just that his millions, which gave him access to the whole world, were worthless to him and accentuated his nothingness.”
Then the commentator asked the question: “What do you do with your leisure time? It’s a good idea to examine carefully this important segment of your life. It exposes the real person--but not the finished person. We can change. …”
For a few moments enjoy with me some very simple yet powerful recent conversations I’ve had in seeking the true significance of friendship. I asked an eight-year-old girl, “Who is your best friend?” “My mommie,” she replied. “Why?” “Because she is nice to me.”
A priest-age young man was asked the same question. “My bishop.” “Why?” “Because he listens to us guys.”
A 19-year-old girl: “My Gleaner teacher.” “Why?” “She is always available to me, even after class.”
A 13-year-old boy: “My Scoutmaster.” “Why?” “He does everything with us.”
A prisoner: “The chaplain.” “Why?” “He believes me. He even believed me sometimes when he shouldn’t have.”
A husband: “My wife.” “Why?” “Because she is the best part of me.”
From these cannot we conclude that friendship is earned?
How can we help a friend? An Arabian proverb helps us answer: “A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
Louis Cassels, a senior editor of United Press International, recently remarked that public interest in religion has declined because people “are sick and tired of being told what they can’t believe. They want to know what, if anything, they can believe,” he said, “and many churches haven’t been doing a very good job of answering that question.” He ended with the warning that “if you persist in handing out stones when people ask for bread, they’ll finally quit coming to the bakery.
Parental responsibility cannot go unheeded, nor can it be shifted to day-care centers, nor to the schoolroom, nor even to the Church. Family responsibility comes by divine decree. Parents may violate this decree only at the peril of their eternal salvation.
About twelve years ago Roger walked through the side door at Welfare Square. It took him at least fifteen minutes to tell the supervisors who he was and where he came from. Although he was a young man of eighteen years, he had great difficulty expressing himself. Part of his young life had been spent in an institution in a neighboring state. Now at the age of eighteen he was on his own.
This young man lived for some time alone in the mountains. Finally, he got a ride into Salt Lake City. He could neither read nor write, and speech was nearly impossible.
The brethren at Welfare Square found Roger a place to stay. Soon he had a bishop, and he gradually became active in the Church. Fellow workers at Welfare Square helped him to learn to speak so that he could communicate. He still has great difficulty, but his friends and associates can, with a little patience, converse with him reasonably well. He worked in several different jobs at the storehouse, and today he is an active elder in the Church. Roger now has a job in a large commercial enterprise and at the present time is totally self-sufficient.
Roger met Janey at Welfare Square. Let me tell you about Janey.
She had been born with cerebral palsy. She was badly crippled, but she had been able to attend school and had recently graduated from high school. This was a tremendous accomplishment; but now, after several months of searching, her family had found it impossible to obtain employment for her. Her bishop asked if there was something Janey could do. She needed to keep busy. In answer to this challenge, the storehousekeeper suggested that Janey be brought to the storehouse the next morning.
After Janey had been at work seven hours, her mother came to take her home. Janey was smiling with pride. She had labeled a dozen cans. There was a pile of spoiled labels on the floor, but they weren’t important. The important thing was her smile. It was there because she felt useful and had pride in her accomplishment. She was willing and anxious to return the next day and continue trying.
Within a month’s time, Janey was doing a good job of labeling cans. She hardly wasted any labels. As her skill in using her hands increased, she was given greater challenges. At the end of three years she was assigned the delicate job of packing eggs after they had been candled.
Janey and her family are truly happy because she has learned through the welfare program to be a contributing member of society.
Roger and Janey fell in love with each other and were married in the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity.
Now, I want you all to remember the program of prospective elders, and I am going to tell you why. I was a prospective elder when I met my wife in Blackfoot, Idaho; and after I had courted her for some time and decided (and let her know) that she was the girl of my dreams, she let me know in no uncertain terms that I had to “shape up.” A temple marriage was the only marriage she was interested in.
We recently had another inspiring and official answer, which I would like to use as the theme for my remarks. On July 7, 1972, Harold B. Lee became the eleventh president of the church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation of our world’s history. And in a conference with some seventy-five members of the press and representatives of other news media, he was asked what was the most important counsel that he had to give to the people of the world. In a three-word answer, President Lee said, “Keep the commandments.”
President S. Dilworth Young recently said that in his opinion, Harold B. Lee is as strong a man as his great-granduncle, Brigham Young. And I would like to submit that these three words spoken by President Lee represent the most profitable direction that could possibly be given by anyone in any dispensation.
“The strength of the Church is not to be measured by the amount of money paid as tithing by faithful members, nor by the number of the total membership of the Church, or the number of Church chapels and temple buildings.
“The real strength of the Church is to be measured by the individual testimonies to be found in the total membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
The other night I was somewhat amused as I looked through an evening copy of the Deseret News. I noticed a picture depicting a problem that one of the Baptist churches in the South was having. It seems that their parking lot was being used by an adjoining establishment for commercial use, and the enterprising minister put this sign up at the entrance to the parking lot: “Warning--Violators will be baptized.”
“Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and not fulfilled?
“I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
“Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.” (D&C 58:31–33.)
A few years after her marriage to a fine young man in the temple, when they were concentrating on the activities of young married life and raising a family, one day a letter came from “Box B.” (In those days a letter from “Box B” in Salt Lake City was invariably a mission call.)
To their surprise they were called as a family to go to one of the far continents of the world to help open the land for missionary work. They served faithfully and well, and after several years they returned to their home, to set about again the responsibilities of raising their family.
Then this little woman focused in on a Monday morning. It could perhaps be called a blue washday Monday. There had been some irritation and a disagreement. Then some biting words between husband and wife. Interestingly enough, she couldn’t remember how it all started or what it was over. “But,” she said, “nothing would do but that I follow him to the gate, and as he walked up the street on his way to work I just had to call that last biting, spiteful remark after him.”
Then, as the tears began to flow, she told me of an accident that took place that day, and he never returned. “For fifty years,” she sobbed, “I’ve lived in hell knowing that the last words he heard from my lips were that biting, spiteful remark.”
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley told a story after going into Vietnam that to me was a great lesson. There was a young man, as I remember it, who was in the military service in Vietnam and who joined the Church and was now about to go back to his home country in Southeast Asia.
Brother Hinckley said to him, “What is it going to do to you when you get back home now that you have joined the Church?”
“Oh,” said the youth, “I will be cast out. My family will disown me. I will have difficulty in school. I will have no military rank.”
Elder Hinckley then asked, “Isn’t that a pretty big price to pay?”
And this young man looked at Elder Hinckley and said, “Well, the gospel is true, isn’t it?”
That was a soul-searching question for Brother Hinckley, who replied: “Yes, my boy, with all my soul, the gospel is true.”
And then this young man said, “Well, what else matters then?”
Now, there is one thing that I think we should all be mindful of. I was with a group of missionaries in the temple one day. A question was asked by one of the sisters about the Word of Wisdom, concerning the promise made that if one would keep the Word of Wisdom he should run and not be weary and should walk and not faint. And she said, “How could that promise be realized if a person were crippled? How could he receive the blessing that he could run and not be weary, and walk and not faint, if he were crippled?”
I answered her, “Did you ever doubt the Lord? The Lord said that.
The trouble with us today, there are too many of us who put question marks instead of periods after what the Lord says. I want you to think about that. We shouldn’t be concerned about why he said something, or whether or not it can be made so. Just trust the Lord. We don’t try to find the answers or explanations. We shouldn’t try to spend time explaining what the Lord didn’t see fit to explain. We spend useless time.
If you would teach our people to put periods and not question marks after what the Lord has declared, we would say, “It is enough for me to know that is what the Lord said.”