Were these indomitable pioneers to express in words their fundamental beliefs, so manifest in their acts, surely they would counsel us to believe:
In the dignity of work; that the world owes no man a living, that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
They would counsel us to believe: in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—that these are inalienable rights, guaranteed by our Constitution and sacredly upheld by the Church whose basic purpose is to build men and women to become Godlike in their attributes and powers.
That we cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
That truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
They would counsel us to believe: in the sacredness of a promise; that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character—not wealth, power, or position—is of supreme worth to individuals and nations.
That every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity an obligation; every possession a duty.
That the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people, not their master.
They would advise us, that we cannot produce prosperity by discouraging thrift; that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business, or personal affairs.
That we cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
That we cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
They would counsel: that you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could do and should do for themselves; that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind, and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
Yes, they would urge us to believe: That love is the greatest force in the world; that in love there is no fear; that love alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might; that there is an all-wise and all-loving God, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with his divine will.
However outmoded some of these standards may be considered today, they are nonetheless enduring truths without which no character worthy of the name, can be built. When we face the argument that “times are different,” may we have the wisdom to recognize that truth never changes. May we possess courage to direct our lives in accordance with these enduring values!
Source: Ezra Taft Benson’s 1956 Book: “So Shall Ye Reap,” p. 313-315. Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) served as thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as Secretary of Agriculture for both terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.