"At an early period in the journey through life, man finds himself at a crossroad where he must choose one of two great highways—the right, leading to progress and happiness; and the wrong, leading to retardation and sorrow. There exists this eternal law that each human soul, through the choices he makes, will shape his own destiny. Our success or failure, peace or discontent, happiness or misery, depend on the choices we make each day....
"Self-discipline is essential in helping us make proper choices. It is much easier to drift than to row, to slide downhill than to climb up. Satan is constantly at work to drag us down by placing temptations in our way in the form of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography, deceit, dishonesty, and flattery, always waiting to catch us in our misdeeds.
"How can we combat the evil that surrounds us and which is so prevalent in the world today? Satan is trying harder than ever before to claim souls for his own domain. We must and we can thwart him, but only by choosing to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and making our influence an active and positive force. As leaders, as parents, as teachers, and as neighbors, all good people everywhere who are striving for liberty and freedom, peace, success, happiness, and for eternal life with our Father in heaven must by example and precept be actively engaged in fighting against those forces which are threatening us and endangering our well-being and that of our children....
"To meet the serious issues facing us in our respective communities today, we must be examples of virtue and righteousness ourselves and choose today to take our stand on the moral issues which threaten us. We do not want our civilization to decay and fall because we failed to keep it on a high spiritual plane and allowed it to sink to the level where the animal instincts and passions dominate."
- N. Eldon Tanner, "Thou Mayest Choose for Thyself," General Conference, April 1973
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President Tanner reminds us of a critical point in the gospel plan: the importance of our agency. "There exists this eternal law that each human soul, through the choices he makes, will shape his own destiny." And that includes not just the long-term eventual destination, but also the short-term success, peace, and happiness vs. misery and failure:
As we look back to 1973, when President Tanner spoke these words expressing his deep concern about the state of the evil in the world and the challenges of temptation, it's distressing to see how much things have changed and the far greater issues we face in our time. Perhaps it has never been more true that "Satan is trying harder than ever before to claim souls for his own domain." Our only hope to resist and counteract his effort come "by choosing to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and making our influence an active and positive force." I am grateful for President Tanner's urging that we be active voices in our communities, taking a visible stand where we can in order to defend gospel principles.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)