The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints179th Annual General Conference was replete with messages of hope and endurance through our trials, but underlying these central messages was an admonition to us all: prudence. More specifically, I would like to center my comments in conjunction with the messages given to us by Elder Robert D. Hales and Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Elder Hales’ message was one riddled with the reproach to avoid excess, and Elder Oaks pleaded with the Saints to extend service.
Throughout the semester, we have discussed the concept of stewardship. We have established the fact that God never intended us, His children, to do whatever we want with anything we can get our hands on. In truth, God has given us the responsibility, much like that of men and the priesthood, to take care of all things within our circle of influence and this includes the land that we live on, the people we interact with, and the other various forms of life. I personally do not think that the truths we learn in the temple being centered on the Creation is happenstantial. There is something centrally important in this setting: things that hold eternal significance and truth never change and never will. This teaching can be applied to the LDS perspective of avoiding excess. Like Elder Hales said, excess can be in the areas of food, debt, and addictions. When we choose to let ourselves focus on satiating or gorging the natural man, we are essentially trading in a portion of our agency for these items- we are exchanging our own divine worth, how sad. This can be, and should be applied to how we treat the wonderful earth God has provided for us to live on. It is in this frame of mind that I now ask myself and others to think about this: “Do I magnify my existence by giving more than I take from the earth, or do I chose to trade in my time and talents for things which have no eternal value and take away the chance for others to enjoy the necessities I enjoy?” The earth is not only our mortal, temporal home but it is also our eternal destination- we need to care.
In the spirit of Elder Oaks talk, I now turn to the cause of our wasteful and excessive sickness of consumption- entitlement and lack of service. Entitlement presupposes that whatever that “right” is that we are entitled to is owed to us regardless of what we have done or don’t do to “deserve” it. Something does not come from nothing. It is in the prideful supposition of entitlement that people ravage the earth in search of shiny things and supporting excessive diets. Service is the cure. When we spend time serving others we are able to more appropriately view our own current circumstances, to see how blessed we truly are and to be grateful. Our gratitude enables us to find joy in our daily lives and we tend to turn less to satiating exhorbant wants of the natural man that may deplete our beautiful home.
I have a long way to go, and I know that nothing will happen unless I start today and continually try to improve each and every day after that. We all make a difference, and in the end it is all that we do that determines not only who we are, but where we will be- I want to stay with the earth.