“Your children to whom you must relinquish all,” Ensign, June 1971, 111
“Could I climb to the highest place in Athens,” said Socrates, “I would lift up my voice and proclaim: ‘Fellow citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?’” It’s a sobering thought. What do we own—and how long—and what do we use it for? There is, there must be a priority of values in all our lives. It shows itself in how we use our time, and in many other ways. In times of disaster—earthquake, fire, catastrophes of other kinds—the things that people first try to save are interesting indicators of what seems to matter most. We were recently reminded of a man whose home burned down one evening in his absence. Virtually not a single tangible possession was saved, but blessedly no life was lost. When asked how he felt, without hesitation he said: “I learned that night how precious my wife and children are to me.” We come and go; we gain a little, lose a little, as we pursue our feverish little pace and purposes, and hold tightly at times to some things that seem to matter much. Then we are faced with the reality of the limits of this life, and come at last to know that we are tenants here, and only for a short time, that we don’t own things very long, and that we will leave behind us all the tangibles that we can touch. And at last we learn what really matters most: peace; a quiet conscience; health; respect and love of family and friends; faith in God and assurance of his divine plan and purpose; and the character and accomplishment that can go with us to the everlastingness of life. If I could climb to the highest place, I would lift my voice and ask: Why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must leave it all?