Knowing that all men and women are sons and daughters of God and are endowed with a divine birthright can help individuals be more tolerant of those around them, said President Gordon B. Hinckley.
"There is too much of intolerance in the world. There is too much of it in our own society," President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said at a BYU devotional Oct. 16."How beneficial to come to the realization that, since we are all children of God, we all are brothers and sisters in a very real sense," he declared at the yearly First Presidency address to students.
"We can be appreciative in a very sincere way. We must not only be tolerant, but we must cultivate a spirit of affirmative gratitude for those who do not see things quite as we see them.
"We do not in any way have to compromise our theology, our convictions, our knowledge of eternal truth as it has been revealed by the God of heaven. We can offer our own witness of the truth, but never in a manner that will give offense to others.
"We must learn to accord appreciation and respect for others who are as sincere in their beliefs and practices as are we."
President Hinckley also addressed such topics as the enrollment ceiling at BYU, illiteracy in society, the need for mental acuity and intellectual strength and avoidance of pornography.
"BYU is wonderful because of its sponsoring institution," he said. "It is becoming increasingly unique among large universities in the strength and loyalty and generosity of its sponsor. It enjoys a security because of this, relying not upon tax monies which are mandated by politicians, but on tithing funds which come from the consecrations of good people and which are administered by men and women who feel a direct responsibility to the Lord."
But that responsibility is not without concern, President Hinckley added. The basic question Church leaders have faced and continue to face is who will the Church educate at BYU and who will it turn away?
"The problem grows more serious through the years simply because the Church is growing," he continued, and qualifying factors have been placed to determine who is eligible to come to BYU.
Families who have been faithful and active in the Church, full tithe payers throughout their lives, question why their children are not admitted to BYU, he said.
"This is the single most expensive entity funded by the tithes of the Church. Should not all who are honest and generous in their tithing be eligible for its benefits?
"As the Church continues to grow, there will be an ever increasingly smaller percentage of its young people who will have the opportunity of attending this university.
"I need not remind you that you are a highly favored group," President Hinckley told the crowd of 13,577 - one of the largest to attend a devotional. ". . .There has been placed in each of you, as a privileged beneficiary, a great and sacred trust.
"We are willing to make some of these funds available to you for your blessing provided you in return pledge certain efforts in your studies and meet certain requirements in your deportment. We will feel happy if you meet that trust. We will feel disappointed and embarrassed if you do otherwise."
President Hinckley asked the students what they will take with them when they leave BYU, and said he hoped that they will go forth with three acquired qualities:
First, intellectual sharpness.
"I hope that while you have been here you have developed a degree of mental acuity which finds its expression in a mind that is alert, that is orderly in its processes, that is hungry for more of the kind of thing it has been fed while here.
"We are constantly reminded that there is some cause for alarm in our nation. It is shocking to read that illiteracy is on the rise. I deplore the terrible waste of the intellectual resources of so many people of this nation who devote countless hours watching mindless drivel.
"Don't be a couch potato. Be a man or woman with a mind and a will, with a zest for learning that will be cultivated in this institution while you are here and which will be expanded through all the years to come."
Second, "I hope that you will develop while here a spirit of fellowship," President Hinckley counseled. Spend time learning with others. "You have no time to waste on the filth and rot we call pornography."
Third, "I hope that you will take with you an unassailable spiritual strength. This is a unique and remarkable university. It is a great institution where you may learn the secular things of the world as well as you might learn them anywhere else on earth. And then there is a spiritual value that undergirds all that is done here."