Friday, July 3, 2015

Ezra Taft Benson on the responsibility to preserve America

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I do not think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care, when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men, when we disregard the importance of law and order.
"If American freedom is lost, if America is destroyed, if our blood-bought freedom is surrendered, it will be because of Americans. What's more, it will probably not be only the work of subversive and criminal Americans. The Benedict Arnolds will not be the only ones to forfeit our freedom....
"If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers—normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free—Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.
"Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil, but erosion of the national morality—erosion of traditional enforcement of law and order....
"If America is to withstand these influences and trends, there must be a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers, an appreciation of the American way of life, a strengthening of muscle and sinew and the character of the nation. America needs guts as well as guns. National character is the core of national defense."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Americans are Destroying America," Conference Report, April 1968, pp. 49-54
Click here to read the full talk

Having had significant exposure to politics and government (including service as the US Secretary of Agriculture for 8 years under President Dwight D. Eisenhower), President Benson had a special concern and sensitivity to America's strengths and challenges. He often spoke about freedom, liberty, government, and the responsibility of citizens.

In this excerpt from a talk given almost 50 years ago, President Benson talks perceptively on forces that threaten the country today, particularly the erosion of spiritual values and respect for law; and offers the critical challenge that America needs "a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers" and increasing "national character."

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