How firm a foundation: 'Standing on the shoulders of giants'
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Sir Isaac Newton once remarked in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
This is how we feel as a Young Women general presidency. We stand on a firm foundation of prophets, seers and revelators, put in place again with the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the responsibility and the privilege of using this firm foundation gained by others' hard work and sacrifice as we continue to build and move forward.
In the Young Women auxiliary, we are building on the works of all the past presidencies and we truly feel that we do stand on the shoulders of giants. Since our calling, it has been clear that we have in place all we need to prepare these noble young women for their bright future. We have the Book of Mormon, we have the words of prophets, seers and revelators, and we have standards and values to assist parents and leaders in preparing the young women to receive the ordinances of the temple. Thus it is clear; we do not need changed programs as much as we need changed hearts. A program, however, can be a catalyst and a resource to begin a mighty change of heart. A program can create a beginning point to establish holy habits, righteous routines and patterns of preparation.
This month we mark the 25th year that the young women of the Church have focused on values. These are referred to as the Young Women values found in the Young Women theme. They were included for young women by a very inspired presidency led by Ardeth Kapp. These values are eternal truths. They have not changed. While society has changed drastically in the last 25 years, the values for young women have remained constant.
We now have an entire generation and more who have these values written in their hearts. And so we say, "Thank you, Sister Kapp!" The young women of the Church thank you; the generation of mothers with children thank you. These values have not only been planted in hearts, but now they are being practiced in homes. Your inspired leadership has blessed an entire generation and it will continue to bless generations to come because of the inspired Young Women theme and values it contains. "Thank you, Sister Kapp!"
Little has changed about the Young Women theme in the ensuing 25 years. In 1999, Sister Margaret Nadauld and her presidency added the phrase "strengthen home and family" when Personal Progress was revised. In 2008, prophets, seers and revelators added the additional value of virtue. These inspired additions built upon the foundation of the past and made the Young Women theme even more focused and relevant for these turbulent times.
Think about it; values are essential to a civilized society. They are essential to a democracy. They are critical in a home. The extent to which a person accepts and acts upon these values largely determines what he or she will become and the influence that he or she will have. Why are these values so important? It is because they are the attributes of Christ.
Christ-like attributes are gifts from God, which come as we use our agency righteously. When we accept and act upon these values, they prepare us to move closer and closer to the Savior and to follow His example. They enable us to do as He did — to go about doing good (see Acts 10:38) — to seek knowledge, to develop integrity, to have faith, and to believe in the individual worth of each person on this planet. They enable us to understand that each of us are children of a loving Heavenly Father and each of us has inherited characteristics like our Father in Heaven. This kind of thinking expands our understanding of who we are and what we can do. These eight Young Women values give us a firm foundation upon which to stand in a world of crumbling values.
As the Young Women general president, I can see in a coming day that many of the good women of the world will look to the young women of the Church—to the generation that have now become wives, mothers, homemakers, and leaders—and ask: "Who are you? Who are you women who radiate a confidence and joy so incomprehensible in this ever-darkening world? What makes you so different and so happy?" And at that day, I see the women and young women of the Church repeat the Young Women theme, which we have in our hearts. "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will 'stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places' as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue." These values provide a firm foundation — a foundation upon which we may build as we move forward. It is a foundation which will strengthen homes and families and prepare individuals to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple.
As we stand on this firm foundation established by our predecessors, we acknowledge with gratitude that we do truly stand on the shoulders of giants. It is said that Isaac Newton did not originate this phrase, but rather it was originated by a theologian by the name of John of Salisbury. He said it this way: "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."
And so, on this 25th anniversary month of the Young Women theme and values, we say again — "Thank you, Sister Kapp. And thank you, Sister Elaine Cannon, Sister Ruth Funk, and Sister Florence Jacobsen. Thank you, Sister Janeete Beckham, Sister Margaret Nadauld, and Sister Susan Tanner. Thank you for the firm foundation. Thank you for your service, for your dedication to the Lord, and for your life of example in living each one of these values. Thank you, from the young women of the Church.