My studies as a scholar of twentieth-century European history, both in undergraduate and graduate school, coupled with my study of the Book of Mormon and modern-day politics, have led me to conclude that the need for individual righteousness and responsibility was never greater.
Why do people want a king? Why do people inevitably gravitate towards a strong central government? For centuries the European nations were held in the thrall of the “divine right of kings.” They truly believed that kings were foreordained in heaven and that to go against their king was to go against God. For the most part, until the liberal revolutions of the mid-eighteenth century, they believed that their own lot in life was divinely determined, as well. The class system was maintained by the official state churches.
Rebels against the churches and the monarchies, who relied on them to keep the lower orders in line, began to seek freedom in America during the Reformation.
Those who emigrated to the northern colonies had a strong desire for self-government and freedom of religion. There were inevitably clashes among the people’s ideas of religion. However, their desire for self-rule eventually led to the Declaration of Independence, where God was proclaimed their ruler.
Any student of the Revolutionary War knows what a miracle it was. Any student of Constitutional Law knows what an extraordinary group of men the Founding Fathers were. The stage was set for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This gospel of ours depends on each man and woman making and keeping individual covenants with the Lord and accepting responsibility to support and sustain a righteous government. America struggled through a bloody Civil War so that the “underclass” would be freed. We have accepted the poor and downtrodden of many nations, and they have assimilated into our melting pot.
During the Twentieth Century, we experienced two major world wars that resulted in the fall of all the European empires. In my forthcoming book, The Last Waltz, the characters live out the difficulties of Austria in losing their empire, at the same time having democracy thrust upon them as a way of government. After centuries of monarchies, the people were confused and uncertain of how to make a government “by the people” work.
Socialism was seen as a dangerous road. It might have worked, had the people really wanted a “brotherhood of man.” But, inevitably, even this government by those who had been downtrodden wanted absolute power, and the Russian revolution disintegrated into a bloody power struggle. Fascism rose in Germany , Austria , Italy , and Spain as a defense against rule by the “rabble.” Democracy, the middle road, never stood a chance. It was like putting new wine into old bottles.
This dependence on a ruling class is demonstrated by the pride cycle we read repeated countless times in the Book of Mormon. It demonstrates how freedom is continually lost. It always begins with a few people who believe that they are better than others. They become king-men. They want to rule. Bloody wars ensue. The only times that the Nephites are ever truly in danger from the Lamanites are when there is rot within.
What is this rot? Pride. The desire to be better than others. What is the defense against pride? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Taking personal responsibility to love and care for one another.
The recent crisis in America has been brought about by greed, corruption, pride, and fear. The government is seeking to solve it by taking responsibility. Political correctness has invaded the country to such an extent that we are in danger of being ruled by “liberal fascism.” Things have indeed turned upside down when Christians are persecuted and the secular exalted. As President Benson prophesied long ago, evil is seen to be good, and good is seen to be evil.
We Latter-day Saints around the world must take up the Title of Liberty. What is our Title of Liberty? Our testimonies of Jesus Christ, the sanctity of the family as proclaimed by the brethren, and our love for our brothers and sisters. We must not back down in the face of our detractors. In order to do this, we must banish pride from our lives, and endeavor to live as Saints, seeking to build Zion . This is the advice of the brethren.
Our church leaders have encouraged us more than ever before to cleanse our lives and lean for strength on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Responsibility starts with the individual, then the family, and finally the Kingdom of God .
We have made covenants to build that kingdom whatever the cost to ourselves. We are in the midst of battle. Our weapon is not the sword, but complete, total submission to the Savior. In Mosiah 3:19, we are told to put off the natural man and seek to become, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, spiritual men and women. Are we ready? Or will we fall back on the natural man, and allow the pride cycle to come to its inevitable end?
By taking the brethren and the Book of Mormon as our guide, we can defy history and bring about the Kingdom of God , holding high our Title of Liberty. This must and will happen, for we are in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.