A Destroyed Nation

A few weeks ago I was reading in the Book of Mormon how the Nephite nation was destroyed. I had remembered that the Chief Judge (highest office in the nation) had been murdered, but here’s the thing–that had happened before and the nation hadn’t fallen apart because of it.

There are 3 accounts of a Chief Judge being murdered recorded in the Book of Mormon, and all of them are attributed to a “band of robbers” who become known as the Gadiantons. The first murder is the beginning of this group.

For about 50 years this band grows and becomes an increasing threat to the Nephites, both externally as a force that must be fought though force of arms, but also internally, as a network of people that infiltrate the government at all levels. Notably, in the second murder of the Chief Judge, both the murderer and the victim are identified as belonging to the Gadiantons.

Despite the fact that the second Chief Judge to be murdered is actually a member of this evil band of robbers and usurpers, this does not destroy the Nephite nation. To me that is pretty astounding, and a testament to the stability of their government.

3 Nephi 7:1-2 explains briefly how the nation was destroyed. The Chief Judge is murdered. But again, that has happened before and the nation was able to continue. What was different this time is found in the second verse:

“And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes”

3 Nephi 7:2 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/7.2?lang=eng#2?lang=eng

We are approaching a contentious U.S. election, and both sides claim that the other won’t concede defeat. I find very little evidence of that, but I am concerned that over time we are continually getting to a point where each side truly believes that the other is evil–the “other side” is essentially this group of Gadiantons, seeking to destroy others for their own profit, and possibly for their own twisted pleasure in seeing others suffer.

The trouble is that there are good reasons why someone would choose to vote for Biden. There are also good reasons to vote for Trump. There are reasons to vote against both. I’m concerned that people are increasingly convinced that an entire half of the nation (of course it’s the “other” half) is a combination of exceptionally evil and exceptionally ignorant people.

The United States are very fortunate to have a surprisingly stable government. One that was designed with multiple layers of checks and balances such that an evil individual or even a group of individuals can only do so much (yes, that is being worn away, but it’s not nearly gone yet). However, when the people of our nation become so divided that everyone is convinced that the “other” is simply evil; that is when we are in danger of losing our nation.

Again, I don’t think we’re actually at that point yet. I am concerned that we are getting a little closer with each election. I myself and others take a little extra time to appreciate that everyone has different opinions, everyone has the right to express those opinions, and everyone gets to vote, and who they vote for does not make them an evil person.

Let’s be a little less “divided one against another”

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