Saturday, June 23, 2018

President Gordon B. Hinckley on safeguarding and blessing children

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"As Tagore, the poet of India, once observed, 'Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man' (Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest, New York: Harper and Row, 1965, p. 49). Children are the promise of the future. They are the future itself. The tragedy is that so many are born to lives of sorrow, of hunger, of fear and trouble and want. Children become the victims, in so many, many cases, of man’s inhumanity to man....
"My plea—and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it—is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture. They need kindness and refreshment and affection. Every home, regardless of the cost of the house, can provide an environment of love which will be an environment of salvation."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Save the Children," General Conference, October 1994
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

These remarks were shared 24 years ago, shortly before President Hinckley became president of the Church. In the talk, he reviews many of the challenges faced by children in today's world: starvation and disease, child labor and exploitation, inadequate parenting (especially missing fathers), physical and sexual abuse, and so on.

In the face of these terrible challenges, and knowing of God's love for His little ones, President Hinckley pleaded for more attention and care to be given to the safety and welfare of children. The root answer, of course, he said lies in "adherence to the principles of the gospel and the teachings of the Church. It lies in self-discipline."

President Hinckley also talked about "the joys... of happy parenthood" and the positive alternative to the challenges we often see. As terrible and tragic as are the challenges, just as wonderful and joyful are the successes and rewards when parenting is done with love and self-sacrifice.

We should labor first in our own homes and spheres of influence to make sure there is love and peace, following the example of the Savior as we teach and bless the little ones. Then we should be on alert for ways to share that spirit in the broader community around us to help do all we can to "save the children." What a tender, but critical and timely, message this is.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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