What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: TheWalkinMan
The experience of the city Ammonihah in the Book of Mormon provides an interesting case study regarding the arrogance that patriotic pride produces. Having apostatized from the Nephite faith and embraced the teachings of Nehor, the people violently rejected a prophet of God sent to call them to repentance. In their wickedness, the citizens had apparently grown so proud of their metropolis that they scoffed in disbelief at the suggestion that it might be removed from its position of prestige and power, and ultimately destroyed.
The deviation and apostasy of this people from true principles had further augmented their self-adulation and love of their homeland. They no doubt considered themselves patriotic—an ironic label that can be (mis)applied to almost anybody, anywhere. And so this love of government fostered a feeling of perennial power; those in Ammonihah apparently assumed that their city would continue to exist and succeed forever.
They were, of course, dead wrong.
In terms of application, we might take the approach of the early apostles and ask Lord, is it I? Do we Americans also harbor such feelings of arrogance and assured permanence? Do we erroneously assume that our country will forever have the mightiest military and the most coveted currency?
While the future has yet to be written, there is one historical fact that will no doubt repeat itself: empires are ephemeral. Or, as author Chalmers Johnson has put it: It is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever. To assume otherwise would be folly, and an invitation for the fate of Ammonihah to be our own.
Sadly, it seems that the status quo mentality sometimes leads people to assume that our current position in the world’s sociopolitlcal strata is guaranteed. In this fantasy, life as it now exists will either continue or improve—but never change for the worse. This arrogance differs little from that of Ammonihah, since both groups rely on the assumption of invincibility.
America, while powerful, is not invincible.