Every day new headlines proclaim some new calamity, some dilemma or social problem taking place at home or abroad. A combination of readily available information and an increasingly dangerous world combined to provide everyone with something to worry about.
The solutions to society’s most concerning problems are much more complex than these simple solutions can account for. But principles of the gospel can provide a good starting place to help individuals and families become better citizens. As President Ezra Taft Benson famously said in 1985:
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
Here are just a few problems from recent headlines that principles of the gospel can help address.
1. Problem: “When video games become an addiction”
What the gospel teaches: Addiction is a plague spreading around the world. Where once alcohol and drugs were the main culprits for addiction, today more and more habits are forming into damaging addictions — including video games. But there is one solution that can heal any addict. As Elder M. Russell Ballard taught, “There is hope for the addicted, and this hope comes through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and by humbling oneself before God, pleading to be freed of the bondage of addiction and offering our whole soul to Him in fervent prayer.” (For more information, see M. Russell Ballard, “O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One,” October 2010 general conference.)
What the gospel teaches: Though young adults give varying reasons for an increase in millennials living with their parents, one of them may be the diminished importance of marriage to many young people. In these cases, the age-old advice given in the first book of the Bible could solve at least part of the problem: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
What the gospel teaches: The problem of poverty is widespread and seemingly insurmountable. The combined efforts of lawmakers, citizens and charitable organizations worldwide have yet to make a significant dent. But one solution proposed by then-Church president Gordon B. Hinckley has helped a growing portion of young Church members worldwide. If applied in more ways and places, the principles behind the Perpetual Education Fund could help low-income individuals improve their circumstances. President Hinckley said, “Where there is widespread poverty among our people, we must do all we can to help them to lift themselves, to establish their lives upon a foundation of self-reliance that can come of training. Education is the key to opportunity.” (For more information, see Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Perpetual Education Fund,” April 2001 general conference.)
What the gospel teaches: In a perfect society, no one would steal from anyone else, including the government. Unfortunately, we seem to be living in the times described in 2 Nephi 28:8: “And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God — he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” However, the gospel calls for and always has called for honesty in all interactions. As Elder David B. Haight taught, “The continued survival of a free and open society is dependent upon a high degree of divinely inspired values and moral conduct, as stated by the Founding Fathers. People must have trust in their institutions and in their leaders. A great need today is for leadership that exemplifies truth, honesty, and decency in both public and private life. Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only policy!” (For more information, see David B. Haight, “Ethics and Honesty,” October 1987 general conference.)
What the gospel teaches: To put it simply, the gospel teaches love, tolerance and compassion. Indeed, “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. As the Savior taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21-22).