Monday, July 24, 2017

President Thomas S. Monson on the challenges of modern pioneers

President Thomas S. Monson (b. August 21, 1927) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley before becoming Church president in 2008.
"The passage of time dims our memories and diminishes our appreciation for those who walked the path of pain, leaving behind a tear-marked trail of nameless graves. But what of today’s challenges? Are there no rocky roads to travel, no rugged mountains to climb, no chasms to cross, no trails to blaze, no rivers to ford? Or is there a very present need for that pioneer spirit to guide us away from the dangers that threaten to engulf us and to lead us to a Zion of safety?
"In the decades since the end of World War II, standards of morality have lowered again and again. Crime spirals upward; decency careens downward. Many are on a giant roller coaster of disaster, seeking the thrills of the moment while sacrificing the joys of eternity. Thus we forfeit peace....
"Must we learn such costly lessons over and over again? Times change, but truth persists. When we fail to profit from the experiences of the past, we are doomed to repeat them with all their heartache, suffering, and anguish. Haven’t we the wisdom to obey Him who knows the beginning from the end—our Lord, who designed the plan of salvation—rather than that serpent, who despised its beauty?
"A dictionary defines a pioneer as 'one who goes before to prepare or open up the way for others to follow.' Can we somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation? Can you and I, in actual fact, be pioneers?
"I know we can be. Oh, how the world needs pioneers today!"
- Thomas S. Monson, "The World Needs Pioneers Today," Ensign, July 2013, p. 5
Click here to read the full article

It is easy for us to forget the specific elements of pioneer sacrifices; stories merge and blend as details fade in our memories. President Monson worries about that happening. But retaining the "pioneer spirit" is critical as we attempt to avoid the dangers of our time and find our way to the "Zion of safety."

President Monson is now over 90 years old; he was 18 at the end of World War II. He comments on the decline of morality and decency in society, and the increase of crime, during those years since the war. His hope is that we are learning from the lessons of history and moving ahead with the pioneer spirit to resist the influences of the world. We are all pioneers in our own way.

President Monson's invitation is to recognize that we have the opportunities to be pioneers. According to him, we deeply need to be pioneers in the world we live in. We should learn from those lessons of the past and reflect their spirit and examples in all we do.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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