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Politics. I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the world of politics. Feelings run high, and emotional triggers are plentiful. I’ve got some pretty solid opinions about certain topics in the political world, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about King Mosiah, how he approached politics with a Christ like attitude, and how we can follow his example. Instead of following my usual method of picking a couple verses and following a theme, we’re going to just move chronologically through Mosiah 29 and pull out principles.
Wisdom. The plea to be wise happens two times within a short amount of time, and there are two phrases that are associated with these two mentions of the word “wise.” The first mention asks us to “consider these things” and the second asks us to “look forward to these things.”
I find it interesting that Mosiah didn’t hesitate to consider the bad that could result from choosing another man to be king. He spoke of potential war and bloodshed. The sooner both sides can acknowledge the bad arguments for their opinions, the sooner we can come to a more positive solution.
In order to avoid delving too far into actual political issues in an effort to remain neutral and appeal to both sides, I give a different kind of example that teaches the same principle.
Two parents have a child who is quickly falling in with some bad friends. Mom and dad argue about how to help pull their child back on to a safer path. Mom is convinced that unless they act quickly and simply ban their child from hanging with these bad friends, their child is going to be lost fast. Dad is equally convinced that if they try to push too hard on their child, it will only cause more rebellion and propel them forward towards these bad friends. If we follow the example of what often occurs in our political world, we will find mom and dad arguing. Mom will accuse dad of not caring about what is happening to their child. Dad will accuse mom of making things worse, and the child will only further withdraw to avoid the arguing. No good is accomplished. The sooner mom and dad can acknowledge that they both have their child’s well-being at heart, and the sooner mom and dad can acknowledge that both ideas have merits and potential disasters, the sooner they can make a decision they both feel comfortable with. It won’t be easy, but I can assure you that it’s not making it easier to blindly grasp their own ideas about how to fix a problem.
Be wise and please consider the negative potential from your prescribed solution.
It only takes one generation for a group of people to fall into wickedness and captivity. One generation. We see Zeniff leading his people to be industrious and protective, and then we see Zeniff’s son leading the people into wickedness. It happened that quickly. What does this mean for us? It means that although it may be difficult and frustrating, we need to be involved. Regardless of whether it’s difficult, we should be involved. That doesn’t necessarily mean going on to Facebook to argue with people. There are much more productive ways to be involved.
God will deliver us. I often find myself getting really worked up over politics. If I get too involved on Facebook or I look at some of the things happening in our country that I feel powerless to fix, I have to put my trust in God. When I’m not sure what to believe, I know I can simply pray for Heavenly Father to preserve our freedoms and help me know how to protect my family. We are all aware that things will only get worse as we get closer to the Second Coming, but we do not need to live in despair. Christ has overcome the entire world; no matter what is occurring in our country and around the world, we can find solace in the fact that none of these problems are permanent.
I think this is one of the main reasons I wanted to do this post. Mosiah teaches us that, “…it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to what is right…” This may not feel true in our day. I know there have often been times that I’ve been overwhelmed and scared about how things in our country seem to become more and more evil. I worry about how many people can possibly agree with “this” or wonder how on earth so many people can be following “that.” But let’s look more carefully at Mosiah’s words.
“…it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to what is right…”
This might be one of the most difficult things you do when entering into the world of politics. It is to consider the idea that your political “rival” might have the same righteous desires that you have.
Those who believe in a gun ban are trying desperately to save our children. It may surprise you to know that those who believe in less gun control have the same intense desire to save our children.
Those who believe in capitalism believe it is the best system to advance as many people as possible. Others feel the exact same about more socialized systems.
The principle in this verse is not for you to abandon your arguments. It is to recognize that people with opposing viewpoints have the same righteous desires for our country that you do. Thinking they are uneducated or unenlightened or blinded by the media WILL SERVE NO ONE. It will only add to the intense polarization that is occuring in our day (which I believe is one of the greatest threats to our country). Polarization means nothing gets done, and no one gets helped.
Demonizing your opponent only serves to keep you awake at night, entrench you in self-righteousness, and push your opponent to further dig in their heels.
We have to stop believing the worst of the other side of the political spectrum.
Mosiah said it best. Most people desire what’s right; they just have different methods of getting there.
Mosiah elaborates on what it means to be a leader over a group of people. It’s agonizing for a righteous king to try and make the best decisions that will benefit most of his people.
When we live in a free country, the responsibility falls on each of us. Brothers and sisters, let this comfort you. No matter who is “leading” our country, it is each individual that truly makes the difference.
When you see violence or poverty or ominous futures, you can make a difference. If a majority of us would recognize our power, EVERYTHING would change for the better. We would rise up and teach those around us. We live in a fallen world. We will never, never, never be able to completely legislate away evil. It’s impossible. In fact, if we want to truly be effective in eradicating evil to the furthest degree possible, we have to recognize our power and set an example for happiness, kindness, and compassion even when we are met with brutal opposition.
I’m reminded of a TED Talk given by a young woman who used to be a part of the Westboro Baptist Church. She was taught to hate those who were different from her. Want to know what changed her? It wasn’t a law or government program. She got on the internet to spew hate and was met with kindness from gay people. Imagine if she had been met with anger from the other side (even if it was justified!). Because people chose to be kind to her in the face of hate, she changed.
If we want to change our country, I can assure you it will not happen at the federal or state level. It will happen in our homes, communities, and schools. It will happen as we each reach out to individuals.