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.
“One of the greatest challenges we will face is to be able to live in [the] world but somehow not be of that world. We have to create Zion in the midst of Babylon”
—Elder David R. Stone, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon”, Ensign, May 2006, p.90-92
I loved the talk from this past general conference by Elder David R. Stone, titled “Zion in the Midst of Babylon“. Due to my studies in recent months I have become more and more troubled about the situation we face today. Corruption and conspiracy in our government, lower acceptable standards in the media, easily-accessible debauchery on the internet, a failing school system, and an overall attack, subtle or not, on Christ-like standards and morals.
There are two talks I have read recently that comfort me. One is “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast” by Elder Holland. The other is this article by Elder Stone.
Both of these articles give me a sense of peace and reassurance, that despite the chaos around me, I can create Zion in my own home and in my own life. I can “cheerfully do all things that lie in [my] power; and then [I may] stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).
Another interesting note in Elder Stone’s talk is the following statement:
“People in every culture move within a cocoon of self-satisfied self-deception, fully convinced that the way they see things is the way things really are.”
Wow. I have never heard this thought expressed so succinctly. How prone are we as Americans to believe 100% of what we’re spoon-fed by the media? Conversely, how often do we question the reports we hear on TV or the radio, or even worse, the internet? How firm do we grasp on to our so-called convictions on a given issue, without objectively researching them with an open mind and the spirit of discernment?
I fear that the majority of us are in this exact state Elder Stone describes. Wrapped up warmly in our cocoon, we savor the self-satisfied self-deception. Questioning the proposed truth is hard. Said Patrick Henry:
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth. . . Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not. . .? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth.”
—Patrick Henry, meeting at St. John’s church, March 23, 1775 (source)
I quote again from Elder Stone:
“We can live as a Zion people, if we wish to. Will it be hard? Of course it will, for the waves of Babylonian culture crash incessantly against our shores. Will it take courage? Of course it will.”
I am grateful for the inspired leadership of a modern prophet. I know that he and those who serve with him are called of God, and are leading us today if we will only but open our eyes and ears and heed their call. Do we have food storage? Are we working hard to reduce our debt? Are we repenting earnestly of our sins?
Despite all the turmoil and chaos, despite all the reasons to be outraged, depressed, and fearful, let us have faith, and hope for a better world.
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)