'Moral disaster' in 'wonderful season': Pres. Hinckley addresses BYU Management Society

Although this is a wonderful season in the history of the world, President Gordon B. Hinckley told members of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the BYU Management Society, "tragically, we are experiencing a moral and ethical disaster."

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke March 5 at the society's 10th annual gala dinner at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. J. Willard Marriott Jr. presented President Hinckley with the Washington chapter's Distinguished Public Service Award for his full-time work for the Church since 1937.In his address, President Hinckley said he is thankful for the many technological miracles he has seen in his lifetime. "We have achieved technical miracles, but, tragically, we are experiencing a moral and ethical disaster.

"We have lost a tremendous reservoir of values," he continued. "Of course, it is not peculiar to America. The same problem is found around the world. We are beneficiaries of a technological revolution. There has been more of scientific discovery during my lifetime than during all of the centuries of time that preceded it. But in some areas we are slipping back into the jungle in terms of real civilization. . . .

"We cannot continue the trend that we are presently experiencing," President Hinckley noted, "without catastrophe overtaking us.

"If we continue on a diet of pornography and filth and profanity, the mores that govern civility and respect and reverence will crumble around us.

"I am more concerned about the moral deficit than I am about the budget deficit," he emphasized.

Taking the opportunity to address the management society's members on the importance of home and family, President Hinckley said there "is nothing any of us can do that will have greater long-term benefit than to rekindle wherever possible the spirit of the homes in which we grew up."

He then spoke about four "simple things" on the part of parents that "would in a generation or two turn this nation around in terms of its moral values."

"Let parents and children," he said, "teach and learn together, work together, read together, pray together."

President Hinckley noted that children must be taught in the home that all people are children of God and should be respected.

"Let there be taught respect for womanhood and manhood. Let every husband speak with respect and kindness and appreciation for his companion. Let every wife look for and speak of the virtues of her husband.

"Let parents teach their children the sanctity of sex, that the gift of creating life is sacred, that the impulses that burn within us can be and must be disciplined and restrained if there is to be happiness and peace and goodness.

"Let the truth be taught by example and precept."

President Hinckley said children must also be taught that to steal is evil, that to cheat is wrong, and that to lie is a reproach to anyone who indulges in it.

He continued: "If we are to put civility back into our civilization, the process is to begin in the home with parents while children are very young."

Speaking of working together, President Hinckley said that children need to work with their parents - to wash dishes with them, to mop floors with them, to mow lawns, to prune trees and shrubbery, to paint and fix up and clean up and do a hundred other things where they will learn that labor is the price of cleanliness and progress and prosperity.

Of reading together, President Hinckley said, "If we could follow a slogan that says, `Turn off the TV and open a good book,' we would do something of substance in strengthening another generation."

He said he regarded television as perhaps the greatest tool ever discovered to teach and educate people in large numbers. "But I decry the filth, the rot, the violence, and profanity that spews from television screens into our homes. It is a sad commentary on our society."

President Hinckley emphasized that many things of value come over television, but people need to be selective and not be as slaves "to the trash of the Hollywood writers and producers."

Of his fourth suggestion, that of praying together, President Hinckley asked, "Is prayer such a difficult thing? Would it be so hard to encourage fathers and mothers to get on their knees with their little children and address the Throne of Deity to express gratitude for blessings, to pray for those in distress, as well as for themselves, and to ask it in the name of the Savior and Redeemer of the world?

"How tragic the loss of any family that fails to take advantage of this precious and simple practice."

More than a thousand members and guests attended the gala which included a special musical selection by Charlotte Day, Nancy Reid and Joyce Bennett, wife of Utah Sen. Robert Bennett.

Among the guests were several LDS members of Congress, including Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada; Sen. Bennett; Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa; Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma; and Rep. Ron Packard, California.

Attending also were ambassadors from such diverse nations as India, Mongolia and Botswana. Nine in all, they were joined by key diplomats from 12 other countries including China, Cyprus and Pakistan.

"We include members of the diplomatic community in evenings such as this that they may come to know and feel confidence with us as a people and with our belief system," said Beverly Campbell, director of the Church's International Affairs Office which arranged their attendance. "This way, doors can be kept appropriately open and problems solved."

She related that President Hinckley's great spiritual strength and personal dignity were recognized by diplomats attending. Ambassador and Mrs. Ray of India spoke of the evening as a "spiritual feast." Ambassador Munteanu of Romania said that this renewed his desire to visit Salt Lake City. Ambassador Guruge of Sri Lanka expressed an interest in learning more of beliefs based on such a solid foundation.

The Distinguished Public Service Award, a bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln, has been awarded for the past 10 years to individuals who have made significant contributions to society. Past recipients of the award include former Utah Sen. Jake Garn; Dr. James Fletcher, twice head of NASA; Brent Scowcroft, former President George Bush's National Security Adviser; Admiral Paul A. Yost Jr., former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; and Rex E. Lee, president of BYU.

While in Washington, President Hinckley also addressed missionaries from the Washington D.C. North and Washington D.C. South missions.

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