I grew up in a very patriotic family. My grandfather served in WWII and instilled in all of us a sense of pride in this country. Taught his children (who taught their children) to be grateful for the freedoms that are enjoyed on a daily basis. The freedoms that he fought to protect. Freedoms that many take for granted. I am proud that, as a woman in this country, I can walk out of my home, unaccompanied, wearing what I choose, believing as I choose, having my own opinion and the ability to express my own opinion.
Having said that, having pride in what this country stands for, doesn’t always make us proud of the country. Somewhat similar to when Mormons say, “The Church is perfect…the people in it, aren’t.”
I don’t generally use a ton of quotes within my posts. Mostly, I think, it’s because I’m lazy. I feel that if I quote someone, I need to link to the source, etc. and somehow I have a high school English teacher screaming at me to never plagiarize. However, with the topic this week dealing War and Mormons, I’ve taken a lot of information and quotes from an article President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote in the May 2003 Ensign because I feel that this article say a lot about what many Mormons feel about war. (See? The linking? It has begun.)
At any rate, I give you the twelfth Article of Faith:
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
This is where it all begins. The belief in being subject to the various leaders of the country that you live in. You can even cross reference and take the obedience a little further:
D&C 134:1 WE believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
Does this mean all governments? In all countries? But what I do find interesting, is that in this scripture, is that we are to learn that God “holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them.” Mind boggling. And also (somewhat) comforting.
But how does that apply to the instances of war?
In theory, Christianity as a whole promotes peace. There is a direct correlation between righteousness and peace. Mormonism follows this same theory:
D&C 98:16 Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children
In the article that I’ve been referring to, President Hinckley wrote about where the Mormon Church stands (and also his opinion) on the war in Iraq:
First, let it be understood that we have no quarrel with the Muslim people or with those of any other faith. We recognize and teach that all the people of the earth are of the family of God. And as He is our Father, so are we brothers and sisters with family obligations one to another.
But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. Those in the armed services are under obligation to their respective governments to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.
He goes on to say:
In a democracy we can renounce war and proclaim peace. There is opportunity for dissent. Many have been speaking out and doing so emphatically. That is their privilege. That is their right, so long as they do so legally. However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.
When war raged between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the record states that “the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for … power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
Obviously, one could argue whether or not today’s current situation overseas is a fight to protect our home land, our liberties, etc. That will need to be a topic for another day – I’m already exhausted from all the quoting and linking. But I will say this: I am a peace loving person. War is something that tears apart families and causes much grief, pain and suffering. I understand that there have been instances of war in the history of the world that have been vehicle to establishing some variation of peace. But those instances are very, very few.
On each side, people believe that they are fighting for a just cause, for defense of home and country and freedom. On each side they pray to the same God, in the same name, for victory. Both sides cannot be wholly right; perhaps neither is without wrong. God will work out in his own due time and in his own sovereign way the justice and right of the conflict. (President Harold B. Lee)
This post has taken me an age to write and I am sorry it is so long. My opinions have changed dramatically over the past few years in that they have become my own. Both religiously and politically. My fear for so many followers of any religion or government is that, like I did, they put all their eggs in one basket. They put all their belief into a religion and/or a government without ever questioning what is right for them. But I guess that is easy for me to say, since I won’t be brutally punished if my beliefs are different than the leaders of the country I live in.
And so, in my effort to make myself crazy with all these quotes today, I give you one more….but this one, isn’t about Mormons or War. It’s just all about peace:
No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have basically the same human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes that are taking place in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa, are a clear indication of this. …
… Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.
The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger, and so on, are human created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding, and a development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.
… I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means may appear different, the ends are the same.
(Excerpts from the Dalai Lama’s Peace Speech.)