Return to old, sacred values begins in the home

Almost without exception, society's problems arise out of the homes of the people, said President Gordon B. Hinckley in remarks Sept. 23 in the opening session of the International City/County Management Association's convention.

The international group, convened in the Tabernacle on Temple Square at noon Sunday, was addressed by President Hinckley and was entertained and inspired by music provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

President Hinckley told the city and county managers that no one knew better than they the great problems that afflict the global society. "The catastrophic events which occurred on September 11 remind us that something is seriously wrong," he declared. "You are altogether too familiar with many of these problems — crime, pornography, drugs, fatherless homes, the whole litany of ills which have been tearing us apart. You know all about the expense of law enforcement. I am of the opinion, and I feel very strongly about it, that society's problems arise, almost without exception, out of the homes of the people. If there is to be a reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home.

"There is no place, no environment more conducive to the development and enactment of virtue than the family. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity and their peace, all find their roots in the teaching of children by fathers and mothers."

He said that it is plainly evident that both the great good and the terrible evil found in the world today "are the sweet and the bitter fruits of the rearing of children. As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years.

"We go to great lengths to preserve historical buildings and sites in our cities. We need to apply the same fervor to preserving and strengthening the most ancient and sacred of institutions — the human family!"

President Hinckley suggested ten specific things that might help bring about a turnaround:

1. "Accept responsibility for our role as parents and fulfill our obligations to our children."

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and, if you please, righteousness, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the basic commandments of God, and to be law abiding citizens where they live."

2. "Get married and stay married."

The American flag is posted at opening of international convention in the Tabernacle.
The American flag is posted at opening of international convention in the Tabernacle. | Photo by Scott G. Winterton

That statement brought spontaneous applause from the audience. President Hinckley referred to a report that the Council on the Family in America, after two years of study, had reached the conclusion: "American Society would be better off if more people got married and stayed married."

3. "Put father back at the head of the home."

President Hinckley said, "Far too many families have been denied the leadership and stabilizing influence of a good and devoted father who stands at the side of an able and caring mother in quietly training, gently disciplining, and prayerfully helping the children for whom they are both responsible."

4. "Recognize and value the supreme importance of mothers."

"The decisions made by the women of this generation will be eternal in their consequences. The mothers of today have no greater opportunity and no more serious challenge than to do all they can to strengthen the homes of the nation."

5. "Celebrate and treat children as our most priceless treasures."

President Hinckley related the story of a group of women in ancient Rome who, with vanity, were showing off their jewels when one asked a woman named Cornelia where her jewels were. Pointing to her two sons, Cornelia said, "These are my jewels." Under her tutelage and walking after the virtues of her life, the sons grew to become Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus — the Gracchi, as they were called — two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history.

6. "Discipline and train children with love."

"An old and true proverb states, 'As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined.' The primary place for building a value system is the home. Our children are never lost until we give up on them. Love, more than any other thing, will hold them in the family fold. Punishment is not likely to do it. Reprimands without love will not accomplish it. Patience, expressions of appreciation, and that strange and remarkable power that comes with love and prayer will eventually win through. . . . The example of wise, fair, honest, and loving parents will do more than anything else in impressing on the minds of children the important principles they need to adopt in their own lives."

7. "Teach values to children."

"Teach children civility toward others. We have seen in the barbaric terrorism of September 11th the horrible price of a lack of civility.

"We can protect [society] against conflict between ethnic groups or religious or diverse groups of any kind. Let it be taught in the homes of our people that we are all children of God, and that as surely as there is fatherhood, there can and must be brotherhood. Conflict among the races and ethnic groups will fade when all of us recognize that we are all part of one great family, valued equally by the Almighty."

8. "Teach children to work."

"A little hard work breeds a greater respect for personal and public property." President Hinckley's next statement drew applause from the audience: "Graffiti would soon disappear if all those who sprayed it on had to clean it off."

9. "Read to and with children."

He said he felt sorry for parents who do not read to their young chldren, and for children who do not learn the wonders to be found in good books.

10. "Pray together."

"Parents should teach children to pray while they are young. . . . Can we make our homes more beautiful? Yes, through addressing ourselves, as families, to the Source of all true beauty. Can we strengthen our society and make it a better place in which to live? Yes, by strengthening the virtue of our family life through kneeling together and supplicating the Almighty in the name of His Beloved Son.

Concluding, President Hinckley said: "Society's problems arise, almost without exception, out of the homes of the people. If there is to be a reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home, with parents instilling within children the virtues that will make them into strong, contributing members of society. . . .

"It is within families that respect for others is learned, that truth is best learned, integrity is cultivated, self-discipline is instilled, and love is nurtured. It is at home that we learn the values and the standards by which we guide our lives. It is at home that we come to determine what we will stand for."

The program began with the Utah National Guard posting the national and state flags and the Tabernacle Choir singing "The Star Spangled Banner."

Gov. Mike Leavitt and Mayor Rocky Anderson welcomed members of the convention to Utah and Salt Lake City, respectively. The invocation was offered by Iqbal Hossein, past president of the Islamic Society of Salt Lake City. Bruce Romer, president of the international association, conducted the meeting.

With music director Craig Jessop and associate director Mack Wilberg conducting, the Tabernacle Choir performed nine selections that featured hymns and patriotic songs. About a third of the way through its concert, the choir sang "America the Beautiful," after which members of the audience stood and applauded for about two minutes. The applause ceased only when Brother Wilberg turned to lead the choir in its next selection.

After the concert concluded, the choir performed "God Bless America," with the audience rising to join in singing the chorus.


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