“These Things I Have Learned,” New Era, Mar. 1971, 2
“How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean; this youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter.” (Statement of the First Presidency, April 6, 1942.)
If I could have the wish of my heart, it would be that our youth would so live as to enjoy this great promise and blessing. After all, the aim and purpose of our existence is to prepare ourselves for eternal life, and who among us would not prefer eternal happiness to a state of misery or regret for past actions?
All through my life I have been more or less conscious of the great evils and temptations that face youth, and have always been thankful that my father gave me this one important bit of advice: “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33.)
This and the understanding of the gospel that I gained early in youth made it possible for me to withstand many of the temptations that were bothering my young friends with whom I associated. As I think of my early associates now, it is so evident that those who believed and followed the teachings of the gospel and were strong enough to overcome temptation are those who have continued to progress and enjoy the good things in life, while those who did not make the right choices have been paying for it all through their lives, except in cases where they recognized their weaknesses, accepted the gospel, and repented of their ways.
My association with good people has always been a great strength to me. As a result I have continually encouraged my children, my grandchildren, and the youth with whom I have had the privilege of associating to choose good companions, to set their goals high, to determine what is right and what is wrong, and to make up their minds about what they would or would not do, regardless of the circumstances or conditions in which they find themselves. Unless one has made this determination, it is almost impossible to choose the right when you are under pressure to do the wrong or when passion takes over.
I have had the privilege of associating with youth as a Scoutmaster, a schoolteacher, and in different offices in the Church. I have also had the opportunity of interviewing many young people for many different reasons, and it has been my observation that where they are living according to the teachings of the gospel, it is much easier for them to make the right decisions, and they are happier and much better adjusted individuals than those who fail to appreciate what the gospel means.
I will never be able to thank my parents for the example and teachings that they gave me, the love and confidence they showed, and the sacrifices they were prepared to make so that I might enjoy the good things in life and prepare myself for the future.
Your parents can help you greatly if you will confide in them and accept their advice and counsel. They want you to be happy. Your successes are their successes. Your failures are their failures. They are sad when you are sad, and glad when you are glad. If you want to be really happy and successful, you will honor your father and mother, as the commandment directs. You need the benefit of their wisdom and experience.
I have always believed that man is that he might have joy, and I am convinced that he can enjoy greater happiness and at the same time attain success if he will do what is right. In fact, I always encouraged my daughters to have a good time when they were young and going out with their friends, and to have such a good time that they would always remember it as a good time, with no remorse, no regrets.
Going to my Heavenly Father in prayer in the morning, asking him to direct me in my actions, and telling him that I would report to him at night have always given me strength to carry on as I should. If youth will keep these thoughts in mind, and remember that our Heavenly Father is counting on each one of his children to keep his commandments, they will have the strength to resist temptation.
I love our youth and have great confidence in them. Though the evil and temptations are probably greater than ever before, you are better educated, better prepared to meet them, and in many ways better prepared than your elders to take on the responsibilities of business and industry and other positions of leadership.
You are our hope for the future. It is your privilege and responsibility to make a better world. I wish I could live long enough to see how much better you will make it. You can accomplish this only as you keep yourselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight, always seeking guidance from our Heavenly Father. Alcohol, tobacco, and drugs will decrease your efficiency and ability, as well as your faith.
Put on the whole armor of God. With faith in him and with righteousness directing your actions, you cannot fail and you cannot help but be happy. There is no happiness mirrored in the faces of those who are creating the disturbances in our troubled world, but those who are doing what they know is right are happily going on their way and making progress. My hope for you is that you will have joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter.