Character Education: a Cautionary Tale about Deception and Drug Abuse

Character Education:

A Cautionary Tale about Deception and Drug Abuse

Gordon B. Hinckley

keyoldI know of no better answer to [the] foul practices that confront our young people than the teachings of a mother, given in love with an unmistakable warning. May the virtue of your children’s lives sanctify and hallow your old age. May you be led to exclaim with gratitude as did John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 1:4). ~Gordon B. Hinckley

Teach them to seek for good friends.

friends-future-faithThey are going to have friends, good or bad. Those friends will make a vast difference in their lives. It is important that they cultivate an attitude of tolerance toward all people, but it is more important that they gather around them those of their own kind who will bring out the best they have within them. Otherwise they may be infected with the ways of their associates.

I have never forgotten a story that Elder Robert Harbertson told. He spoke of an Indian boy who climbed a high mountain. It was cold up there. At his feet was a snake, a rattlesnake. The snake was cold and pleaded with the young man to pick it up and take it down where it was warmer.

native-american-indian-boyThe Indian boy listened to the enticings of the serpent. He gave in. He gathered it up into his arms and covered it with his shirt. He carried it down the mountain to where it was warm. He gently put it on the grass. When the snake was warm it raised its head and struck the boy with its poisonous fangs.

The boy cursed at the snake for striking him as an answer to his kindness. The snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up” (“Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, July 1989, 77).

Warn your children against those with poisonous fangs who will entice them, seduce them with easy talk, then injure and possibly destroy them.


Teach your sons and daughters to avoid illegal drugs as they would the plague.

rattlesnakeThe use of these narcotics will destroy them. They cannot so abuse their bodies, they cannot so build within themselves vicious and enslaving appetites without doing incalculable injury. One habit calls for another, until the victim in so many cases is led down to a situation of utter helplessness, with loss of all self-control and habituated to a point where it cannot be broken.

A recent television program indicated that 20 percent of young people who are on drugs were introduced to their use by parents. What is wrong with people? The use of illegal drugs becomes a dead-end road. It takes one nowhere except to loss of self-control, to loss of self-respect, and to self-destruction. Teach your children to avoid them as they would a foul disease. Build within them an utter abhorrence of such.

Just say No!

keyNow there are prescription drugs that can be just as devastating. Beware of mind-altering drugs, even if they are legal and prescribed. These can be even more dangerous, because the poisonous snake lurks behind the flattering words of friends and peers who tell you there is no harm, because they are prescribed.


noStay away from illegal drugs, right? Everyone knows that. What many may not know, unfortunately, is that some prescription drugs have serious side effects and can be devastating, as well. I have seen this firsthand. Someone I know took an anti-depressant, not because she had a chemical imbalance, but because she wanted a quick, easy way to be “happy,” and because her friends had been trying to get her to do it for years.

Ironically, the side effects of anti-depressants—suicidal thoughts, hostility—don’t sound like a good way to overcome depression to me. This person’s personality changed dramatically. Within four months of beginning that medication, she had divided and spiritually destroyed her family, and it’s irreversible, because she won’t stop taking the drug.

Beware! Just because a drug may be prescribed by a medical professional does not mean it is safe for you. Those who have chemical imbalances can be helped under the care of health professionals. However, professionals should be responsible and clearly warn about the side effects of mind-altering drugs, and not blithely prescribe them without regard to deleterious consequences.

Now, if you simply are not happy, look first to yourself—true happiness is a matter of character, of taking responsibility for our own actions. Are you seeking happiness in the form of passing pleasures and self-gratification? Are you unhappy because you are offended?

jesus-repentance                If so, there is no chemical that will fix your problem, so just say No! to drugs, prescription or not. But you can rest assured that true happiness is well within your grasp. The solution is simple, but not easy. It’s called repentance. Have courage to face the truth about yourself. Don’t look to worldly soothsayers or “friends”—well-intentioned or not—to excuse you from doing the right thing. Turn to your Christian leader. He will help you strengthen your moral compass and access the mercy you need through the love of Christ.

Try it! I promise you it works miracles, for I’ve done it myself, countless times over the years, and sometimes daily. And I know many others who use this remedy constantly, with deeply satisfying results that no manmade, chemical formula can ever provide.

May you feel the great peace and joy that comes as the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ frees you from the bondage of sin.



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