Monday, September 14, 2009

Family Home Evening Lesson #42: STANDING FOR SOMETHING--CIVILITY

1. Opening Prayer

2. Sing "Kindness Begins With Me" Children's Songbook pg. 145

3. Read Ephesians 4:32 And be ye a kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
4. Read and discuss the following from Gordon B. Hinckley:

When I was born, the life expectancy in the United States was 50 years. Today, it is 75 years. Is it not a thing of wonder that 25 years have been added to the average life span during this time? The same is happening in other areas of the world. I was 30 years of age when penicillin was discovered, followed by a variety of other miracle drugs.

You are familiar with these things. I simply remind us of them as an expression of gratitude. We have achieved technical miracles, but tragically we are experiencing a moral and ethical disaster. May I take you who are older back in memory to the homes of your childhood. I think that in many cases there was prayer in those homes; families knelt together in the morning and invoked the watchful care of God. At night they joined again in prayer. Something wonderful came of this. It is difficult to describe, but it did something for children. The very act of expressing gratitude to God, our Eternal Father, brought with it a feeling of respect, reverence, and appreciation. The sick were remembered in those prayers, as were the poor and the needy. The leaders in government were remembered in those prayers. This cultivated a spirit of respect for those in public office. Where is that respect today?

There was no uncouth or profane language heard in those homes. Civility and altruism were also taught in those days. A man recently sent me a recording of a talk given some years ago by Abner Howell who lived in my neighborhood. Belonging to a minority race, he had worked hard to achieve an education. He served as sergeant at arms for the Utah State Legislature. In that talk he expressed appreciation for the time when he was a boy in school and my mother helped him with his work and defended him against those who were taunting him. We were taught in our home that all of the people of the earth are sons and daughters of God. The color of their skin may be different, but their hearts and emotions are the same.

I would also like to say that it was unthinkable for us to go to school in sloppy attire. The first pair of long trousers I wore was for graduation from junior high school. Prior to that, like my friends, I wore short pants and long, black cotton socks. But they were neat and they were tidy. The mending of socks was a great chore, but it was an important chore.

We attended the public schools. My elementary school was named after American statesman Alexander Hamilton. My junior high school was named for United States president Theodore Roosevelt. We learned about these men. On February 12 we had a holiday for President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. On February 22 we had another holiday to honor President George Washington. Just before these holidays we had school programs in which we learned about “Honest Abe” and the boy George who admitted to chopping down his father’s cherry tree. Maybe there was little historical substance to some of those stories, but there was something of substance that came into our lives. We developed an appreciation for the principle of honesty. Today we have Presidents’ Day in the United States, but for many it has become primarily a play day.

We were taught respect for girls. We played games with them in the neighborhood. We had parties in our homes with boys and girls. Even as we grew older and went on dates, there was a certain wholesomeness about it and respect for the girls with whom we associated. Yes, society has made a lot of technical progress since those days, but we have also lost a tremendous reservoir of values.
5. Closing Prayer

Additional Resources: The Mormon Ethic of Civility (October 2009)
Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations (Ensign, Sept. 1996)
Doctrine of Inclusion (Ensign, Nov. 2001)

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