Some of the first headlines about the LDS church’s fall 2010 General Conference focused on Boyd K. Packer’s comments on morality. Those who have been taken aback by Packer’s assertions that marriage is only legal as a heterosexual affair are surprised, because they expect the church’s 180-year-old message to change because of external pressure.

Despite criticism of Packer’s comments, the church remains the same as it was in 1995, when the original text, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, he quoted in his talk was first published. Some call it old-fashioned or stubborn, but the church maintains its core beliefs. It isn’t hard to see examples of this consistency – one need look no further than the church’s president.

In a show of steady reliability, President Thomas S. Monson used some of his time at the pulpit to teach a simple virtue: gratitude. Without paying heed to changing moral values or differing opinions on what is right or wrong, Monson stuck with basic church doctrine and taught clearly and simply.

Many might wonder why such an influential man would use his time in the spotlight with millions of listeners to teach something so basic and, some would say, boring.

It is simply because the church focuses on core, internal values, such as gratitude, honesty, respect and chastity. This method, like nourishing the roots of a tree, is designed to develop individual strength in each member, allowing them to grow their own branches.

Through the clamoring cacophony of the world’s ever-differing opinion, Monson provides a steady voice. Simple and clear, this man’s message cuts through the noise of a changeable world and reaches out to every man or woman quiet enough to listen. Following are some highlights from his talk on gratitude:
“My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

“Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings. This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. … We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.”

“Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”

“It is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, may we ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions.”