Sunday, July 5, 2015

Howard W. Hunter on preserving the greatness of America

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"Now is the time for America to decree that no longer shall this terrible waste of our inner strength be allowed to blight our greatness as a nation. We should silently, powerfully, and purposefully determine that no silent hammers of decay shall beat our civilization into dust.  We should, with promptness and firmness, decide that the termites of juvenile delinquency and crime shall not eat into the material and spiritual foundations of our country. To continue to permit forces of disintegration to sap our material and spiritual culture of its strength is to stand idly by and watch our civilization become one with Nineveh and Tyre.
"To save even our material prosperity, we must show more interest in moral and spiritual values. When civilizations have a decline in moral and spiritual values, material greatness begins to disintegrate.
"If we want to conserve our economic security, we must focus an increased amount of time and interest on strengthening our human values. A nation is not made great by its fruitful acres, its great forests, and its rich mineral deposits, but by the men who cultivate the farms, fell the trees, and operate the mines. That nation is greatest which produces the largest number of men dedicated to the loftiest ideals of the human race."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Education With Spirituality," BYU-Hawaii Graduation Exercises, Laie, Hawaii, 22 June 1985; see THWH p. 168

It's always interesting to read the warning and counsel offered by leaders in the past and compare to current conditions and challenges. President Hunter worried 30 years ago about the decline in moral and spiritual values of our country. Since then, in many ways, things are continuing to worsen. This inspired caution is more needed than ever.

The suggested solution to maintaining stability and economic security is not in national policy, political maneuvering, or exploitation of resources. Rather, it's in "strengthening our human values." This brings to mind the observation of Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th-century French politician and historian, who said, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

What does this mean to me, as an individual? How can I influence and help my country? Only by influencing and helping myself and those close to me. If each individual in every family would strive to strengthen his own values and commitment, his work ethic, his dedication "to the loftiest ideals of the human race" — then goodness would spread and counteract the forces of decay and destruction. We must not give up!

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