State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

The Day That Zion Died

When we enter into political dialogue, we literally take our spiritual life into our own hands.  I will readily admit that I typically stay far away from the fray of most Liberal/Conservative arguments.  Quite simply this is because they are typically arguing about what government should do in areas that I don’t consider government responsibility, such as defining marriage.  With that said, I am ready to jump out of the fryingpan and into the fire today.  Not that I want to do this at all, but after watching the fiasco that has come of the Chick-Fil-A controversy, there is a point that I feel needs to be covered.  Perhaps I just read all the wrong blogs or articles or postings.  What I saw was many people very angry and expressing it at times even hatefully.  I have no intention of standing up for or attacking anyone’s political beliefs, I simply want to point out what the true cost is when we get so emotionally charged on such an issue.  I have no skin in this game, so perhaps I can ask people on both sides to look closely at their own feelings and how these relate to what we have been taught in scripture.  To be fully honest, I am mourning our collective attitudes and fearful that I have failed to communicate the one and only thing I really care about for all my attempts–that we can only create a better society, a better world, through love and respect.

I’m beginning in 3Nephi 11:29-30 which states:

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

This is our Savior speaking, as recorded in what we consider to be “the most correct book.”  This is about the first thing he taught the people on the American continent after setting up his church.  I take this to be, therefore, the best source of the best source.  If we learn nothing else, we ought to learn the things the Savior took the time to teach directly.  He clearly isn’t very concerned about who is wrong or who is right, the method of communication is his concern.  Why is this the case?  Everyone always believes they are absolutely right and their opponent is absolutely wrong.  When we move to contention we start to outdo our neighbor.  He offended me so I’m going to boycott him.  He’s boycotting me, so I’m going to… and on it goes.  Where does it end?  In the long run, it ends with violence and death.  Murder for gain.  Murder or war to gain the position of being right, not even a large dose of mammon to fill the pockets, just the pride of being right.  The Savior explains this very well in 3Nephi 12:21-22 (see also Matt. 5:21-22):

Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement of God; But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgement.  And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Anger leads to derision (an unequal relationship) which leads step by step to killing.  If we are angry, we are wrong.  Even if we are right, we are wrong.  We often talk of brotherly love and loving our enemies.  We often talk of our love for the Taliban or some enemy on a battlefield half way around the world.  Is not the real test whether we love our brother who is right here?  If we can’t love and respect our political foe who lives next door, what good does it do to love the Taliban?  The Savior continues (verses 23-24):

“Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee–Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.”

Your brother wronged you.  It wasn’t your fault.  He was wrong.  He did it.  But it is your responsibility to reconcile it before the Lord will receive you.  I think what the Savior is trying to teach here is an attitude that we all need to get.  It ends with me.  Even if my brother is wrong and at fault, it ends with me.  I don’t get angry or upset.  I end the problem, I don’t fight back.  Verses 38-41:

“And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also; And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”

These are all cases where the neighbor is presumably incorrect or evil.  Why should we return good for evil?  Think about the psychological effect.  If I strike my neighbor and he strikes me back, then I feel justified in what I have done.  I even feel justified in striking again because I did it the first time to try and get my view of justice.  On the flip side, if I strike my neighbor and he “turns the other cheek”, I not only know I am not justified, but I begin to question whether I was justified to begin with.  When the Ammonites would not fight the Lamanites, thousands of Lamanites realized their guilt and were converted.

This is not to say it is easy.  When we feel we are right, we want to create justice.  Was it easy for the Ammonites to die rather than fight?  Too often we feel we are right partly because we don’t understand our opponents.  I propose that this is a choice.  It is much easier to choose to know why I am right than to really understand why my opponent may be right.  However, especially today, if we really try to turn our hearts to understanding instead of fighting we can come to understand the other side of the story.  It may require more study than we like.  We may have to ask questions.  We may have to ask the Lord for help, but he promises, “Ask and ye shall receive”.  Because understanding is so difficult, due to human nature and the manipulation of information, I propose that all of our dialogue must be in the context of gaining understanding.  If I disagree without understanding, I have prejudged.  If I disagree, but leave open the idea that I don’t yet fully understand, I open myself to the spirit to learn.

Christ goes on in 3Nephi 14:3-5 (Matt 7: 3-5):

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother:  Let me pull the mote out of thine eye–and behold a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Can I give a modern interpretation?  Conservatives, find the problems with the conservatives.  Liberals, find the problems with the Liberals.  And etc. with any other group or division that can be made in society.  When we solve our own problems, then our love for our neighbor and our understanding of our neighbor will become apparent and we may help them.

These teachings of the Savior helped prepare the people of Nephi for living the United Order which was successful for around 200 years.  These teachings are the base of learning about the United Order.  There was an end to this better way of life for the Nephites, and it is well documented what it was (4Nephi 1: 24-25):

“And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.  And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.”

Pride ended it.  The example he gives is in clothing, jewelry, and fine things (probably because having seen our day, he knows what will get our attention), but the end was pride.  Pride creates an unequal relationship between people.  Anger is a demonstration of pride.  Unwillingness to try to understand is a demonstration of pride.  The teachings of the Savior clearly uproot pride from the beginning.

The Lords teachings keep our personal relationships on equal ground which is the foundation for true equality.  You can’t gain equality through inequality of heart.  We cannot hope for tolerance to come from being intolerant.  Justice cannot be created by injustice.  If I hold anger toward my neighbor, I am holding an unequal relationship and discussion of the United Order or the greater doctrines of the Gospel are impossible.  No wonder the Church dwells on simple doctrines instead of giving us new meat.  We can gain all knowledge from the scriptures.  We can understand the Book of Mormon or Bible in every way, scholarly and spiritual.  If we don’t understand these simple truths it will profit us nothing.  I realize this with lamentation and a feeling of not having accomplished anything as I look at the way we communicate with and feel about one another.

 

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