Children are the promise of the future

Save the children

Nurture, love them- Have a special place

"Children are the promise of the future," President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, declared in the Sunday morning session. "They are the future itself.

"The tragedy," he continued, "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."

President Hinckley said that people should do more to lessen the suffering of children. "Surely after all of the history we have read, after all of the suffering of which we have been told, after all of the exploitation of which we are aware, we can do more than we are now doing to lift the blight that condemns millions of children to lives that know little of happiness, that are tragically brief, and that are filled with pain."

President Hinckley introduced his remarks by describing a visit to Yellowstone National Park, where forest fires raged in 1988 destroying millions of trees. At the time, people mourned the loss of the trees. But, he said, now "between the burned trees new seedlings have sprung from the ground, millions of them."

He observed that people, like trees, have a rhythm of life that is renewed as children replace the older generations. Children "are like the new growth in the park - young, tender, sensitive, beautiful, full of promise."

However, President Hinckley said that in recent months children have been seen on television screens - "the children of Somolia, their bodies bloated, their eyes staring with the stare of death. More recently, we have seen them in Rwanda, the victims of raging cholera and vicious and unrelenting hunger."

"These were the promise of a new and better generation in these lands, where diseases, malnutrition, bullets and neglect have mowed them down like tender plants before the sharp blade of the sickle.

"Why," asked President Hinckley, "are men so vicious as to bring about the causes that lead to such terrible fratricidal conflict? Great, I believe, will be their tribulation in the day of judgment when they must stand before the Almighty accused of the suffering and destruction of these little ones.

"Surely God, our Eternal Father, must weep when He sees the abuse that is heaped upon His little ones, for I am satisfied they hold a special place in His grand design."

The problem of suffering children is not limited to those far away, he said. "One major problem is the now-common phenomenon of children bearing children, of children without fathers. Somehow there seems to be in the minds of many young men, and some not so young, the idea that there is no relationship between the begetting of a child and responsibility for its life thereafter.

"Every young man should realize that whenever a child is begotten outside the bonds of marriage it has resulted in a violation of a God-given commandment.

"Further, let it be known clearly and without question that responsibility inevitably follows, and that this responsibility will continue throughout life."

President Hinckley said that abortion is not the answer, but "only compounds the problem. It is an evil and repulsive escape that will someday bring regret and remorse."

Rather, he said, marriage is the more honorable thing that gives the child a name and parents. When marriage is not possible, adoption "may afford a greater opportunity for the child to live a life of happiness."

President Hinckley called physical abuse of children unnecessary, unjustified and indefensible. "I have never accepted the principle of `spare the rod and spoil the child.' I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons. Children don't need beating. They need love and encouragement."

Continuing, President Hinckley said the "terrible, vicious practice of sexual abuse . . . is beyond understanding. It is an affront to the decency that ought to exist in every man and woman.

"Shame on any man or woman who would sexually abuse a child. In doing so the abuser not only does the most serious kind of injury. He or she also stands condemned before the Lord.

"If there be any within the sound of my voice who may be guilty of such practice, I urge you with all the capacity of which I am capable to stop it, to run from it, to get help, to plead with the Lord for forgiveness and make amends to those whom you have offended."

"To rear children in an atmosphere of love, security, and faith is the most rewarding of all challenges. The good result from such efforts becomes life's most satisfying compensation.

"My plea - and I wish I could be 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. Then 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."

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