TTS: Things They’re Saying

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    TTS: Things They’re Saying

    Nineteen-year-old Mark Van Wagoner, Kilauea Ward, Hilo Stake, won first prize in a national public speaking contest sponsored jointly by the Boy Scouts of America and the Reader’s Digest Association. He received a $3,000 scholarship and was honored by President Nixon at the White House. Following is the text of his five-minute presentation:

    Now as the train bears west,
    Its rhythm rocks the earth,
    And from my Pullman berth
    I stare into the night
    While others take their rest.
    Bridges of iron lace,
    A suddenness of trees,
    A lap of mountain mist
    All cross my line of sight,
    Then a bleak wasted place,
    And a lake below my knees.
    Full on my neck I feel
    The straining at the curve;
    My muscles move with steel,
    I wake in every nerve.
    I watch a beacon swing
    From dark to blazing bright;
    We thunder through ravines
    And gullies washed with light.
    Beyond the mountain pass
    Mist deepens on the pane;
    We rush into a rain
    That rattles double glass.
    Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
    The pistons jerk and shove,
    I stay up half the night
    To see the land I love.

    Theodore Roethke’s poem “Night Journey” * expresses the love a man feels for his country as he travels its breadth. The passenger train he rode has just about disappeared from the American scene. Traveling cross-country now, it is evident that elements more essential to survival than passenger trains are disappearing. Valleys are disappearing under blankets of smog; large expanses of land are disappearing under domestic and industrial wastes; and Roethke’s “suddenness of trees” is disappearing under concrete buildings and asphalt parking lots.

    Today’s youth are very aware of what is happening to the environment. We know about water and air pollution, noise pollution, waste pollution. We know that the delicate balance of nature is in danger by residual poisons that are transmitted from one living creature to another. We know that man’s mental and physical health are being impaired by crowded living conditions, lack of food, and erosion of family life. We know that the environmental crisis is an international problem, that the world is finite and must not be further exploited or there will be no earth for our children—for the children of all earth’s inhabitants. And we are either resigned to or alarmed by predictions that resources to support life may be completely exhausted by the year 2000.

    Being aware of problems is a beginning, but it is certainly not the solution. The question is “What is youth’s role in the environmental crisis?”

    Right now there appear to be three courses that youth are taking. One is the course of the revolutionary, the person who believes that violent action will hasten social change. While violent action does achieve notoriety, it also creates additional social problems.

    The second course is that of the escapist, the person who has given up on society and attempts to evade problems by running away from them. In some cases this course also leads to social and environmental problems.

    The third course, and the one I believe is most urgently needed now, is the role of the environmental activist, the person who vigorously attacks environmental problems through constructive and rational channels. Many young people are adopting this course.

    Projects are publicized almost daily in newspapers and magazines. Many young scientists are experimenting with means of recycling waste materials, producing pollution-free power, and utilizing all possible natural resources for additional food supplies for an exploding population.

    Now, what can I do? I am just one of fifty million American youth between the ages of twelve and twenty-four. I can buy soft drinks in reusable containers. I can use soap and low phosphate products for my shower and laundry. I can walk or bicycle where it would be more convenient to drive. I can assist in child care centers in areas where children receive little or no training at home in learning how to conserve our resources. I can participate in exploring school and community-sponsored conservation projects. I can campaign for political candidates whose platforms emphasize solving environmental problems. I can encourage all people to capitalize on the inherent idealism and optimism of the young and try to avoid the mass wave of pessimism that is sweeping around the world. Finally, as a spokesman for youth, I can proclaim our faith in man’s infinite capacity for problem solving. These efforts may seem insignificant when compared to the enormity of the environmental crisis, but imagine the result if fifty million American youth made these small sacrifices in time and convenience!

    While it isn’t likely that we will ever again see the America Theodore Roethke spoke of thirty years ago in his poem “Night Journey,” it is possible that we may see America fit for human habitation. Born into a world of rapid change, we, the young, are willing to change our living patterns and to pay the price necessary to preserve our environment. Through restoring the proper regard for man’s intuitive respect for nature that technology and materialism have obscured, we can assure future generations that the land the poet stayed up half the night to see will be theirs to live in and to love.

  •   *

    Copyright 1940 by F-R Publishing Co.

  • Utopia Myopia

    Dr. Spencer J. Condie, associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University

    One of the most fascinating experiments in the field of animal psychology was conducted with a chimpanzee. The chimp was placed in a room with a bunch of bananas. As his mouth began to water while he contemplated his impending feast, a box was placed over the bananas and he was led to an adjoining room for a short period of time.

    While the chimp was out of sight, the experimenter then substituted a head of lettuce for the bananas and again covered it with the box. When the chimpanzee returned, he very gleefully scurried across the room and flipped over the box. To his great surprise and dismay, he discovered the lettuce instead of the bananas he had anticipated. He became so incensed with his disappointment that he let out a bloodcurdling shriek and began to tear the lettuce to shreds and then stomp on it, thus rendering it completely inedible. 1

    Now the interesting thing about the chimpanzee is that, next to bananas, lettuce is one of his most desired delicacies. In fact, when given a visible choice between the two alternatives, the ordinary chimp is just about as likely to choose lettuce as he is to choose bananas. You see, the only real reason the chimp rejected the lettuce was because his heart had been set on bananas.

    A lot of people are like this chimpanzee: they reject the good world in which they live because it isn’t the perfect world they desire. In short, they have “utopia myopia.”


  •   1.

    John Levy and Ruth Munroe, The Happy Family (New York: Ruth Munroe Levy, 1938), pp. 179–80.

  • TTS: Things They’re Saying

    Lila Chadwick, at the Twin Falls and Twin Falls West Stake seminary graduation in Idaho

    “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

    “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.” (D&C 76:22–23.)

    This is the testimony that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon gave to the world. What a wonderful blessing it would be to know as surely and as certainly as they did that Jesus is our living Savior! And we can. Few of us will see, as they did, that he lives; most of us will have to gain our knowledge through feeling—feeling his presence in the same way that we feel the unseen wind.

    A testimony that Jesus lives is the greatest gift a person can have. It is our chief responsibility and our most important duty to get that testimony, because it is only through it that we receive such blessings as the priesthood, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, endowments, and eternal marriage.

    A testimony that Christ lives is the greatest possession a man can own.

    I have a friend who wants a testimony. He wants to be as positive and certain as Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were. He would like to know that his Redeemer lives, but he is looking for his testimony in the wrong direction. One day I heard him say, “You prove to me scientifically that Jesus lives, and I’ll join your church.” Well, trying to prove something like that scientifically is like trying to weigh wheat with a ruler. That’s just not how it’s done.