For my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I have been studying the book of Mormon. After the great ancient American prophet Mormon compiled the Nephite records as he had been commanded, he proceeded to write his own book. He began by telling us that he was chosen as a boy of ten years old to be the caretaker of all the records. However, he was not to take possession of the plates of Nephi until he was 24 years old.
Meanwhile, Mormon became the leader of the armies before he was 16 years old, and the Nephites and Lamanites were warring against each other for decades. As he started to write his book, the Nephites were fighting a losing war, and the Lamanites were driving them from place to place. Despite their losses, the Nephites were prideful and would not repent.
Chapter 3 begins with the Lord commanding Mormon to “Cry unto this people – Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared” (Mormon 3:2). Mormon was obedient in crying repentance, “but it was in vain” (Mormon 3:3).
Mormon wrote that the Nephites “did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God” (Mormon 3:3).
Years passed, and the Nephites became ever more boastful. They became so wicked that Mormon refused to be their leader. Instead, he stood by as a witness to their destruction. Nevertheless, Mormon loved his people.
Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts (Mormon 3:12).
Mormon did not agree with the way that most of the Nephites were living, but he still loved them. This is a lesson that Americans need right now because of the loud and angry words of the presidential election. Mormon showed us that we can love people even though we disagree with them. This is the same message that the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been teaching for many years. Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave the following counsel in the October 2014 General Conference (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign, November 2014, p. 27).
We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs, and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries.
The presidential election will be over in a few days, and only one of the candidates will emerge as the winner. The supporters of the winner should be humble and gracious in their victory, and the supporters of the loser should be accepting of the vote by the majority. The only way that the great divide in our nation will ever be breached is by individual people extending the hand of kindness and acceptance to each other. The Savior’s Golden Rule will work as well today as it should have worked in the day that He taught it.