Excerpts from The Law of the Harvest: As a Man Sows, So Shall He Reap. Elder Howard W. Hunter. BYU Devotional. March 8, 1966.
"Many consider Ralph Waldo Emerson one of the wisest Americans. He discovered in his own way the truth that all blessings are predicated on obedience to both natural and spiritual law. His expression is very profound:
"…Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty…Every act rewards itself, or in other words integrates itself, in a twofold manner, first in the thing, or in real nature; and secondly in the circumstance, or in apparent nature. Man calls the circumstance, the retribution. The casual retribution is in the thing and is seen by the soul. The retribution in the circumstance is seen by the understanding; it is inseparable from the thing, but is often spread over a long time and so does not become distinct until after many years. The specific stripes may follow late after the offence, but they follow because they accompany it…."
"What is true with an individual is also true with a nation. You can absolutely rely on this – a nation cannot violate basic principles with impunity, that is, without paying the awful price, anymore than an individual can violate basic principles with impunity.
"We hear a lot of economic and political arguments going on around the country today. We have for a long time. Words like 'socialism,' 'free enterprise,' 'the welfare state,' 'states rights,' 'federal control,' 'human rights,' 'property rights,' 'communism,' are bantered around widely.
"From my own experience in business and as a lawyer and church worker, and from my firsthand observations in this country and other countries of the world, there appears to me to be a trend to shift responsibility for life and its processes from the individual to the state. In this shift there is a basic violation of the Law of the Harvest, or the law of justice. The attitude of 'something for nothing' is encouraged. The government is often looked to as the source of wealth. There is the feeling that the government should step in and take care of one’s needs, one’s emergencies, and one’s future.
"The right to own and control private property is not only a human right; it is a divine right. We will largely be judged, if I understand the Savior’s teachings correctly (see Matthew 25), by how we use our property voluntarily for the blessings and benefit of our Father’s other children. ...this right of free agency is our most precious heritage. It is our greatest gift in this world and is to be valued even more than life itself.
"If you deprive a man of his right to fail in the righteous use of his property, you also deprive him of his right to succeed. If you remove from a man his right to “go to hell,” you likewise remove his free agency to go to heaven. Satan’s entire philosphy is based on a “something for nothing” philosophy: salvation without effort – a free gift. This counterfeit doctrine was rejected by God our Father. Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, accepted our Father’s plan and agreed to pay the infinite price to become our Savior and Redeemer and to show us the way back to the Father. The way is often the hard way. It is the Law of the Harvest. It is the same basic law in the spiritual realm which the farmer must obey in the physical realm. He plants in the spring and cultivates, waters, weeds, and nourishes the ground and its new life and then harvests in the fall.
"Under a free enterprise economy, little more than 6 percent of the population has produced nearly half of the world’s goods. We can today best wage a war on poverty by working on the roots of prosperity, not by sapping their vital strength. To sap the self-reliant spirit of enterprising independent souls in the development of a welfare state can bring only 'poverty equally divided.' When the responsibility for their own welfare is completely shifted from the shoulders of individuals and families to the state, a lethal blow is struck at both the roots of our prosperity and our moral growth.
"What is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms.
"Let me illustrate: If I, as an employer, in my policies and practices exploit my employees, I will either lose them and my business, or my employees will gather together and threaten to strike me. They will strive to exercise an influence on the legislative process so that laws will be enacted dictating fair employment policies and practices, thus limiting my freedom to determine these things for myself.
"If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through 'a democratic process' he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the 'haves' and give to the 'have nots.' Both have lost their freedom. Those who 'have,' lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who 'have not' lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got 'something for nothing,' and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.
"Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost ."
"A thief takes something and gives nothing. He thinks he is free but sooner or later his freedom vanishes into walls and bars. Likewise, a person becomes a thief of his own soul by deceiving himself that he can live unrighteously, immorally, that he can cheat, lie, and take advantage of his neighbor; but all the while he is imprisoning himself behind bars and walls of his own making. 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked.'” (Galatians 6:7.)
"The only way we can keep our freedom is through our personal righteousness – by handling that freedom responsibly. We are our brother’s keeper. We must be concerned for the social problems of today. We must take that responsibility upon ourselves according to the gospel plan but not according to the socialistic plan.
"You know that it is vain and foolish for a doctor to criticize the symptoms of a disease and refuse to work upon the roots. So, also, it is superficial to only criticize socialism and the welfare state and the many other evil “isms” growing up among us unless we work upon the roots. It is only in the changing of a man’s heart – a second birth – the changing of an individual, that the root strength comes to change a people or a nation.
"God will preserve our country and protect it from all enemies, within and without, if we will worship the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ. The real issue is righteousness."