Thursday, August 4, 2016

3 Nephi 6:12-14 -- On Unity and Equality

"And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.
Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.
And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord."
3 Nephi 6:12-14

This is not long after the entirety of the Nephite people had gathered together to outlast the Gadianton robbers.  Miraculously, they prevailed, and survived the huge threat to their society, way of life, and their religion.  And then, here, only a few years later, they start destroying themselves.

We're similar, aren't we?  If we face an overwhelming battle with something obviously evil, we tend to find like-minded people and band together, and we usually find the strength and the conviction to step up and work at overcoming it together.  But when Satan is more subtle, and he starts pitting us against one another with wealth and status, we fall for it.

It is interesting to me not just that inequality ate away at the core of their society, but that it also broke up the church itself.  Inequality and division aren't external problems for other people to worry about.  They are things that affect us all, and that we have to learn to overcome if we ever want to learn to be Zion-type people and be worthy of a Zion-type society, with no poor among us.

The big question is how to combat inequality, isn't it?  That's one thing that I love about the temple.  When you go there, everyone wears the same things, and you can't tell who is rich and poor.  You can't tell who has a PhD and who doesn't.  And maybe it should be a little bit more that way in our own lives.  There are obviously times when we need to use our education or wealth to do good in the world, or fulfill our responsibilities.  But we often go much, much further, using both as trophies or status symbols, showing other people how cool we are, and we illustrate, by what we wear and how we live, our supposed superiority.  We even go further sometimes, and actually believe that all the people who do not have what we do just didn't bother to earn it, rather than realizing that many are separated from a similar level of success by lack of opportunity.

On the other end of the spectrum, many of us see inequality as pure chance, and don't feel like we should have to work in order to have something... that the world, or the government, or our parents, owe us a living.  Sometimes we even thing God should take care of us rather than us having to work to take care of ourselves.  We think that success often comes along through a lottery ticket or a good guess at the casino, so why not us?  Or maybe we'll just marry into it... no reason to work for it if it is just random.  And those people who are earning most of the money by oppressing all of us working stiffs... they are the real problem.

The problem with inequality is that we often really, really believe in it.  We think that it really does make one person better and another worse.  On some level we believe that that is how this game of life is scored.  And yet God tells us a different story.  In his parable of the talents for instance, people were given different amounts.  To some, many talents are given, and to others almost nothing.  What mattered in the parable, and what matters in our lives, is not who has the most, but what we do with what we have.

Today, let's be thankful to God for the blessings that we have and do everything we can with them to make ourselves better and to build a better world.  Let's not covet the gifts of others, or claim superiority over any other person.  Let's fight inequality with generosity and love.  We all have different things, but we are all children of God with potential and possibility.  Even if we only have one talent, let's get out there and use it for good.  Let's work at unity and equality, and try to avoid the same breakdown that the Nephites suffered.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews