Respect for Standards

By President Ezra Taft Benson

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    While serving as Secretary of Agriculture of the United States in the Cabinet of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, I was invited to give the keynote address at the annual convention of the World Food and Agriculture Organization at Rome, Italy. Between sixty and seventy nations were represented at the great international conference.

    Following the morning session, which included the address, an impressive luncheon was given in my honor in the International Banquet Hall, which was decorated with flags of many nations.

    The customary cocktail hour preceded the luncheon. I noticed as the men held glasses in their hands that there was apparently no liquor being served but only soft drinks and fruit juices. I mentioned this to my host, Dr. Sen of India, and said, “Surely many of these men are used to their liquor, which is customary during the cocktail hour.” He said, “No, Mr. Secretary, today we honor you and respect your standards.”

    Following the period of fellowship, we took our places at the banquet table. Here I was even more surprised to find that there was no coffee being served but again only soft drinks and fruit juices. I said to Dr. Sen, “Surely the men attending the luncheon expect to have their usual coffee.” He smiled very graciously and said, “No. Mr. Secretary, I am the host. You are the honored guest, and at this luncheon we honor you and respect your standards.”

    And so it was at a luncheon attended by distinguished leaders from many nations. No member of the Church will ever have cause to be embarrassed by real men or women because of his or her standards. Again, it is rewarding to maintain the standards of the Church.