Sunday, April 22, 2012


The ancient Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, as he approached the end of his days in mortality, having seen in vision the generations yet to come, wrote to a people he envisioned would lose faith in the words of God as they gained confidence in the strength of their own understanding.

For it shall come to pass in that day – they shall contend one with another – and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. Yea and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. (2Nephi 28: 3-8)

When I was a student at Washington Junior High School in Long Beach, California, I gained an interest in the National Political Party Conventions which convened to select their party’s presidential candidate. This was in the days when the delegates actually came to the convention to select and not just confirm the candidate. This change in selecting a party’s candidate, as different as it is, pales in comparison to the difference in dialogue which now darkens the primaries, caucuses and debates and casts a shadow of shame on the whole political process. Speaking ill of one’s opponent now eclipses policy presentation at all levels during elections.

As shameful and blatant as the constant drumming upon the head of a political opponent may be, I believe that this behavior has deeper roots than the desire to gain the supposed power and honor which accompany the acquisition of office.

I don’t believe that the art or science of digging a pit for a neighbor or the teaching of a lie or any of the negative attributes Nephi describes in his words of warning are taught in school, but it seems that there is a carefully set trap which begins early in our training, is reinforced forcefully through personal experiences and observations, and from whose snare there is infrequently escape.

A child barely escaping infancy is told to tell the salesman at the door or on the phone, that his parent is not at home. Later, that parent is taken aback with surprise and the child could hardly comprehend his mother’s reaction when he avoided his father’s stern reprimand and replied, “No daddy, I haven’t seen your hammer.”

During adolescent trying days – egos are fragile – acceptance by peers is dearer than silver or gold – far more important than a true representation of life, its frustrations and failures. “No, my folks won’t let me go,” is a common substitute for, “I really don’t want to go with you.” “The teacher is a jerk” is a convenient face-saving way of saying “I didn’t put enough effort into that class.”

As we add days to life entering into the roles which call for maturity, ingrained habit helps us to remain firm in those patterns and the tapes which play in our heads;

We attempt to convince others with falsifications rather than facts.

We spend beyond our means in an attempt to counterfeit an image of success.

We paint and garb our outer-selves with the hope that we might dazzle and blind our friends away from the realities of our inner deficiencies.

We try to hide the stink of shrunken souls with superficial, perfumed, insincere gestures.

We multiply words in an attempt to cover the shallowness of our character.

Just as we see many a politician caught in the web of his own weaving, we likewise find that the pit we thought we were digging for our neighbor is crumbling upon our own heads, engulfing us in a life of cover up and deception.


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