What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Victor Ngo
In the First Presidency message for the September 2004 Ensign, President Hinckley wrote of the evil that exists in our world:
The flood of pornographic filth, the inordinate emphasis on sex and violence are not peculiar to North America. The situation is as bad in Europe and in many other areas. The whole dismal picture indicates a weakening rot seeping into the very fiber of society.
Legal restraints against deviant moral behavior are eroding under legislative enactments and court opinions. This is done in the name of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of choice in so-called personal matters. But the bitter fruit of these so-called freedoms has been enslavement to debauching habits and behavior that leads only to destruction. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)
Moral agency is given to each of God’s children. While personal actions can result in its loss, as can the intervention of immoral government, the choice is nevertheless ours how we will act in response to what we are confronted with. Evil surrounds us on every side, and the tolerance and permissiveness of society encourages and promotes it.
While the role of the prophet is to speak out against sin and illuminate the evil that exists, he is not to be left alone in this duty. Towards the end of his article, President Hinckley emphasizes the role that we also must play:
The tide of evil flows. Today it has become a veritable flood. Most of us, living somewhat sheltered lives, have little idea of the vast dimensions of it. Billions of dollars are involved for those who pour out pornography, for those who peddle lasciviousness, for those who deal in perversion, in sex and violence. God give us the strength, the wisdom, the faith, the courage as citizens to stand in opposition to these and to let our voices be heard in defense of those virtues which, when practiced in the past, made men and nations strong, and which, when neglected, brought them to decay.
God lives. He is our strength and our helper. As we strive, we shall discover that legions of good men and women will join with us. Let us begin now. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)
How chilling it is to think that we have “little idea” what evil exists in the world, and to what extent Satan has a stranglehold upon God’s children. Secret combinations are alive and well in our day, dealing in “perversion, in sex and violence.”
But this fact does not mean that we should remain idle, pessimistic, and unsure. Instead, a prophet here urges us to stand in opposition and let our voices be heard in defense of virtue. The promise extended indicates that we shall discover others who will rally around the same cause, help shoulder the burden, and add their voices to our own.
What are we doing to oppose evil? Are we being buffeted around by its changing currents, or are we remaining steadfast and immovable? Are we practicing tolerance, indifference, or political correctness? Or are we boldly defending virtue, promoting good values, and living as an example of a follower of Christ?
It is not enough to exert a minimal effort to get by in life, attempting to endure to the end with little to no concern about the world around us. As Joseph Smith said, a person filled with the love of God is eager to bless all of God’s children. As a people blessed with gospel truth and a divine moral standard, we must spread the light and truth we’ve been given.
In a world filled with evil, the voice of virtue and morality is needed now, perhaps more than ever. We have a prophetic mandate to rise and speak out; will you let your voice be heard?