I searched through the news of the day, looking for something interesting to discuss today, but found nothing that interested me. If I am not interested in it, I certainly cannot begin to make it interesting for you. I decided to share with my readers some of the things I studied this week.
The topic of our lesson this week is self-reliance and why it is important. You may be asking, “What is self-reliance?” Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. Hopefully, you will fully understand by the time I finish. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are taught to accept personal responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal well-being and that of our family. Since each of us was given the gift of agency in our pre-mortal life, we each have the opportunity and the responsibility to choose what we will do in life and how we will do it. We are responsible to solve our own problems and to become self-reliant. If for whatever reason, we have done our best in trying to be self-reliant and still need help, the first place we should go is to members of our family. If we still need help, we should go to the Church.
Becoming self-reliant involves six different areas of our lives: education, health, employment, home storage, finances, and spiritual strength. We should each seek to become self-reliant in all six areas.
1. Education includes knowing how to read, write and do basic math (the 3Rs of yesteryears), study the scriptures and learn other skills.
2. Health involves taking care of our minds and bodies with nutritious foods, regular exercise, adequate sleep, good hygiene, adequate dental and medical care, good relationships, and shunning substances that are bad for mind or body.
3. Employment involves work (the foundation of self-reliance), job skills, diligence, trustworthiness, and honest work for the pay and benefits received.
4. Home storage involves building a three-month supply of food normally eaten, some drinking water for emergency use plus gradually building a longer-term supply of food that will sustain life and store up to thirty years.
5. Finances include paying honest tithes and offerings, avoiding unnecessary debt, using a budget, building an emergency fund, and teaching children to do the same.
6. Spiritual strength is just as essential – or maybe more so – than the other five areas. We should exercise faith in Jesus Christ, obey the commandments, pray daily, study the scriptures, and attend Church meetings.
President Marion G. Romney spoke about “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance” and included a story about the gullible gulls. I enjoyed this story when he first told it and have remembered for more than thirty years. It seems that the author witnessed great flocks of sea gulls starving to death in St. Augustine even though the fishing was good. The reason the gulls were starving is because they had relied for generations on the scraps thrown out by the shrimp fleet. Gulls did not bother to fish for their food and never taught their children to do so. Now the shrimp fleet was moving, and the gulls were dying because they were not self-reliant.
“Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the `something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.
“A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s `shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?
“Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence” (“Fable of the Gullible Gull,” Reader’s Digest, October 1950, 32).
We should build our self-reliance on a spiritual foundation and be prepared to follow the example of Jesus Christ who ministered to the needs of the poor and sick, healed them, and gave them hope. President Romney quoted President David O. McKay who made this observation in 1936: “The development of our spiritual nature should concern us most. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul, the divine in man; `the supreme, crowning gift that makes him king of all created things.’ It is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the infinite. It is spirituality alone which really gives one the best in life.
“It is something to supply clothing to the [poorly] clad, to furnish ample food to those whose table is thinly spread, to give activity to those who are fighting desperately the despair that comes from enforced idleness, but after all is said and done, the greatest blessings that will accrue from the Church [welfare program] are spiritual. Outwardly, every act seems to be directed toward the physical: re-making of dresses and suits of clothes, canning fruits and vegetables, storing foodstuffs, choosing of fertile fields for settlement – all seem strictly temporal, but permeating all these acts, inspiring and sanctifying them, is the element of spirituality.”
We can remain free and independent if we first become self-reliant. We must also remember that we are always dependent on Heavenly Father and upon our fellow human beings no matter how self-reliant we become.