America, land of tyranny?

I was recently speaking with a friend, who just quit his job at a correctional facility. This is a place where I once worked, but was fired at, due to a new boss that believes in taking no prisoners. Since my firing 6 months ago, this boss has fired, demoted, or driven away many good people.  What once was a close-knit family with some struggles, is now a divided work place, where many people tip toe around, fearing for their jobs.

Sadly, this seems to more and more be the norm in our society. There was a time when a person was hired at IBM and stayed forever. Loyalty went both directions, up and down the chain. The boss and the worker would look out for each other.

Today, people are just resources to use up and replace, while work locations are just a temporary place to make money, with no loyalty for one another.

The Christian values of mercy, integrity, forgiveness, kindness, seem to have been replaced with cheaper imitations. As Isaiah noted, we honor God and these Godly concepts with lip service, but our hearts are elsewhere.

Government is this way, also. We lock people up for years for smoking pot, while reaping billions in taxes on alcohol and tobacco sales (which cause much more harm than cannabis).

We place illegal aliens in a limbo state by denying them any kind of status, but also will not send them back so we can use their cheap labor for our benefit. We deport people for driving without a driver’s license, which they cannot get because they do not have any form of status – they are in a Catch 22.

When I worked in the Air Force, I managed a building that housed 600 staff. Daily, we had 3 federal prisoners come from the local minimum security prison to clean the offices. One of them was in his early 20s, and had been in about 4 years. At 18, he had a full track scholarship for the U of Alabama. He was caught selling drugs, and given a 10 year sentence for his first arrest. Now, he would get out at the age of 28 years, with us spending 1/2 million dollars to keep him imprisoned for a decade, and he would get out without any education.

As the “land of the free”, we have more people in prison than any other nation. More than Russia, with its secret police. More than communist China with 1.5 billion people.

Our nation has developed huge military and prison industrial complexes, where we can quickly deal with those, who do not follow our rules. Drones kill innocent families and Americans without giving due process. In the last decade, we’ve broken many nations and left them in chaos. Their existence and limited freedoms are threatened by radical terrorists.

Is this really the America that we want?  What would President George Washington and the other Founding Fathers think of how we treat human beings here and abroad?  What would Christ think?

Our Savior has asked us to be peacemakers, be merciful, do good to those that hurt you, and to love our neighbor. There was a time when our nation’s beliefs were similar to those taught and encouraged by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, in the past decades, we’ve seen much distance grow between the two. Mankind has lost its natural affection and moral compass. Instead of seeking what is right, America and many of its people seem to be seeking to grab the three things Satan tempted Christ with: physical gratification, fame and power.

Last night we again admired a bunch of actors and actresses receiving another set of awards (how many awards shows are there, anyhow???) for being glamorous enough to con millions of dollars from people. Some stood up for their personal projects in their acceptance speeches.  All wore extravagant clothing, reminiscent of the costly apparel mentioned in the Book of Mormon as a sign of apostasy.

Meanwhile, we allow the Federal Reserve to print up cheap money to give away to other rich and powerful people, while such effort raises the prices at the store for the average person.  We allow government to create law breakers out of people who realize they cannot afford the life insurance policy they are now required by law to purchase.

As Elder Christofferson noted, We cannot dwell in Zion and maintain a summer cottage in Babylon.

There was a time when charity, selflessness, and Christ-like love were the symbols of this once Christian nation. I fear we are straying far from the most important things, trading them for a mess of pottage.

26 thoughts on “America, land of tyranny?

  1. Give credit where credit is due, Elder Christofferson did: no one turns a phrase like Neal A Maxwell did. Summer homes in Babylon was from his devotional at BYU in 1989.

  2. Dont fret. Have increased faith in the savior. Re-read daniels interpretation of Nebuchadnezzars dream and you will see that a transition was prophesied to happen. The idol will crumble against the stone and the attachments that we all have to Babylon will get dashed as this happens. All that we can do is minimize our fondness of Babylon and its offerings before this happens to lessen the pain of Babylon falling right before our eyes. Those with eyes to see see the fall happening already.

  3. Who “admired” the movie folks having their self-congratulatory party? TV ratings were down 18% from last year, and the total number of people who watched the show was about 35 million. That means 270 million of us just don’t care–or had better things to do.

  4. I have tried over the last six months to improve my daily prayers, daily scripture study, and to make the ordinance of the Sacrament more meaningful. I also try to attend the Temple once a month. As I have done so, I have had more peace in my life. What is going on in the world, although discouraging, does not depress me. I feel like I have discovered an oasis in the desert. We need to prepare for what lies ahead. Having an unshakable faith in the Savior is the alpha and omega of that preparation.

  5. The situations/examples you share are definitely sad. However, the government has a difficult time making laws that always appropriately punish the guilty and deter others from breaking the law. This is, in part, because, as you alluded to, so many of us have no desire to follow the law and to think of others before ourselves. They always find a way around the intent of the law, causing us to ask for more laws or better laws so that won’t happen again! When we blame the government for all our problems and ask the government to fix them, we end up giving the government more power. Our lawmakers are motivated to make more and more laws because this is how they show they are actually doing something and can leave a legacy. But, the more laws we have, our people becomes more oppressed. To buy or sell a home, or get medical care, or even to play a game online, we have to sign or agree to a long list of things we don’t have the time to read or the ability to understand. And why is there all this paperwork? The companies are conforming to the law and/or protecting themselves in case someone tries to say the company has done wrong. I feel like that some of my freedom is taken when I am expected to sign and agree to things that most of us don’t have the time or ability to understand without a lawyer. Many of the laws we encourage in the name of protecting ourselves end up oppressing us. And civil law will never be able to be what the Lord’s law is. It will always come up short. There will be those punished unjustly. There will be those let free unfairly, only to hurt others again. It is immensely unfair for some of us. This is one reason eternal perspective is so important. But still difficult.
    *by the way, I think some would argue your point that alcohol and tobacco do more damage than cannabis. Alcohol and tobacco are more widely used since they are legal and thus do more damage, but I have seen headlines (sorry to mention articles I don’t have time to re-find at the moment) that say that smoking marijuana is more damaging than tobacco. Just a small point- but doesn’t really change the conclusions of your article.

  6. Overall I thought the Academy awards were great. I loved Lady Gaga and the incredible talent that these artists exhibit. Your post cherry picked the negative things about America and many of your assertions are out of context. America is the greatest nation on the earth and yes I do love Harry Reid and Orin Hatch. How about a post that cherry picks the positive things about America. I venture one would find more positive quotes about the United States by the brethren (and in canonized scripture) being a land of liberty than being a land of tyranny. I love the the United States of America the land of liberty.

  7. Academy Awards aside, I remain optimistic about America. I think the positives far out weigh the negatives. If I had one thing to add it would be the encouragement to be active in your community.

  8. My daughter is enrolled in a high school class titled “Theory of Knowledge” or TOK for short. Last evening as we traveled to a viewing for a friend, we discussed studies looking at how people behave.

    The first “study” looked at the “Ask the Audience” option for “So You Want to be a Millionaire?” and compared what happens in different nations.

    The first example was in France, where a fellow didn’t know which of several celestial bodies rotate around the earth. The options were Venus, the Moon, the Sun, and something else. The contestant didn’t know, so after much angst, asked for help from the audience. The correct answer (the Moon) didn’t even get half of the audience. So the question arose, is it that the French are stupid, or is something else going on?

    In America, the audience stats for such a question is presumed to fairly represent the actual knowledge of audience members. But in Russia, the answers to such questions can routinely be used as an indicator for which answer is *not* correct. Russia’s society arose from small villages, where mutual cooperation was common. The rich tended to be those who at the least were not part of the village and at the worst were actively advancing by virtue of stealing from or oppressing members of the village. Russia’s modern society is filled with rich individuals who got their wealth through fraud and violence.

    Thus, a contestant for a show where the “carrot” is becoming rich without any benefit to members of the audience is seen as being akin to these corrupt oligarchs. When audience members have a chance to “give directions” to such a wayward and suspicious soul, they give incorrect directions.

    A similar experiment was conducted where two individuals, who will never meet one another or know of their respective participation in the experiment, are given a chance to cooperate for cash, specifically, an amount equivalent to 2.3 days’ wages for the average person. The first person makes a decision regarding how much of that amount to keep, while the second person makes the decision of whether or not to accept the residual. If the second person doesn’t accept the residual, then neither party gets any money.

    In America, the most common split is 50/50, with several of those interviewed indicating that they would refuse anything less than 50%. “Fairness” was often cited as the rationale for both offering 50% and demanding 50%, even though by refusing the residual, the second person doesn’t get anything.

    Conversely, in some remote society where families are self-sufficient, the most common split was 85/15. The perspective in this group is that the person offered the chance to make the spilt decision had been given a gift, and any residual offered to the second person was also a gift. It was perceived that such things were about luck. Fairness was only mentioned by individuals who had been exposed to western civilization.

    Extending this, it appears that America is devolving further from the “we are a village” mentality of yester-year. We no longer are as willing to see our neighbor as ourself, we no longer feel it our societal duty to correct and lift up others as though their success and lack of failure directly impacted our own well-being.

    Going back to the people who refused 40%, say, they were out a day’s wages. Why? Simply so they could inform someone they don’t know and will never meet that it is important to treat others like they treat themselves. This is the price of teaching other members of society even at cost to one’s self. This is, in a way, similar to a Russian audience attempting to teach a contestant that it is wrong to aspire to be a millionaire, as such an aspiration will make the contestant a member of that social strata occupied by corrupt and evil individuals.

    Today’s society is so mobile that it is returning to the situation faced by that isolated aboriginal society, were every family is alone, unable to count on others for mutual support of moral guidance. It’s an almost predictable response to society’s mobility and the fluid social structure enabled by the internet.

    As for me, I was busy elsewhere this weekend, so only caught the tail end of the celebration of 2014 movies that is the Oscars. It’s my chance to understand what movies were seen as artistic and influential without having to actually bother watching them.

  9. Eponymous, thank you for correcting the quote.

    Robert60, I said nothing about specific politicians. You are welcome to enjoy the Oscars. However, remember that the Lady Gaga you saw Sunday night was probably not wearing raw meat or engaged in sexual positions. She is who she is, which includes all of her incarnations. BTW, how many of the watchers need to see the host in his underwear?

    IDIAT, yes there are still some things to be optimistic about. And Christ is in charge, and will eventually win the day. However, we also live in a day when life’s Korihors want to dissuade us from giving all to Zion, and for us to feel comfortable in Babylon.

    AmyE, thanks for your comments. There is a new study out that shows that alcohol is 114 times more deadly than marijuana for the average user. You can read about it here: http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/23/8093203/marijuana-is-much-safer-than-alcohol-or-tobacco-according-to-a-new

    Meg, as always some great input and stats.

  10. There is so much good in the worst of us,
    And so much bad in the best of us,
    That it hardly becomes any of us
    To talk about the rest of us.
    ~Edward Wallis Hoch

    Lady Gaga has an enormous influence in our society, I prefer to recognize her for her good (and yes their is a lot of good) than the perceived bad. The bigger picture is to celebrate the good in people and in American than looking for the negative. To me that’s being American, to me that’s being a Latter-day saint. 🙂

  11. rameumpton: “We allow government to create law breakers out of people who realize they cannot afford the life insurance policy they are now required by law to purchase”.

    Sorry my friend but are you sure the government requires us to purchase life insurance. Wow!

  12. Everything is as it should be.
    It is quite easy to see the beauty in the world, It is all about perception and the point of view from where you choose to stand. The cream rises to the top in every place of employment, every societal group, every graduating class.
    When life seams unjust it is offering you an opportunity to meet crisis with a better response. It is the better response we are here to master. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than to find success in a situation I failed at previously, because I have evolved.
    Life is about becoming greater. It is supposed to be hard.

  13. Robert60, The Book of Mormon does not describe the good qualities of Korihor or Gadianton. It speaks out against evil and secret combinations that end up destroying the Nephite nation. While Jacob wanted to speak kind words to his people, he was compelled by the Spirit to speak out harshly about their sins, even though it was hard for the wives and children to hear it. We are commanded to cry repentance unto this generation, which requires that we point out the sins of the nation. Yes, I’m sure Lady Gaga has some good points to her, but her past actions are clearly telestial and entice others to the lowest common denominator of civilization and righteousness.

    Farren, I agree that life was made to be hard. But not because God wishes it to be so. Instead, it is hard because of the sins of mankind. Adam and Eve began in a state of paradise, and only after transgressing the law was Adam told he would work by the sweat of his brow and women would travail in childbearing. There are poor people because there are people who gain the system, enriching themselves at the expense of the poor. There is little mercy in the world today, as many push for themselves, and not to lift the suffering.

  14. “But not because God wishes it to be so. Instead, it is hard because of the sins of mankind. Adam and Eve began in a state of paradise, and only after transgressing the law was Adam told he would work by the sweat of his brow and women would travail in childbearing.”

    Ah, so does that mean we ARE being punished for Adam’s transgression? I think not. The opportunity to live in this world is a great blessing to us, in spite of the trials we face. It was the only way we could progress and grow and ultimately, live to be with Father again.

    No system of government on this earth is perfect and ours in the US was set up from the beginning for the rich and influential to overly benefit. Over the years, that has only gotten worse. The rest of us are along for the ride. The real magic is that many have risen up and become one of “them,” but its only out of shear luck the majority of the time.

  15. I just finished reading chapter two of Acts before opening my e-mail and coming across this post. I am one of those who see our current situation as a sign that the time is hastening. As a family we have experienced first hand the decline of justice in America. I pray for those Christians who are being martyred and persecuted as well as for those who seek the truth.
    As for Lady Gaga, the only time I have watched her sing was in a video of her performance at the Oscars. She is evidently talented, but most of her behavior seems to deliberately push the boundaries that have already been pushed to the vanishing point in popular culture.
    Yet most of us in America can still live a life of amazing bounty intellectually, spiritually, and materially. Indications are that this bounty is at risk. We may soon look back and regret the loss of freedom of movement and worship we now enjoy.

  16. “The real magic is that many have risen up and become one of ‘them,’ but its only out of shear luck the majority of the time.”

    Ah, so the fatalistic, closed-system assumptions of the left are still alive and well. See, this is the foundation of where the right disagrees with your worldview: we believe that people aren’t just passive victims of circumstance, but are capable of amazing things. We believe that agency isn’t just a novel theory, but that it actually produces results, one way or another.

  17. I stand corrected on the marijuana danger vs alcohol and cigarettes, after scanning your link and a few other articles (I tried to weed out those that were overtly sponsored by marijuana organizations). However, just because alcohol and cigarettes are legal and accepted doesn’t mean we should accept something else because it’s less dangerous. It is still dangerous.

    I don’t believe that difficulty is only caused by sin. Many righteous people have illness that doesn’t appear to be caused by their or anyone else’s sin. Often difficulty IS from our own sin or someone else’s. But, I believe there are other times when we are given challenges in order to stretch and strengthen us.

    We are indeed becoming more like a tyrannical society. As a people, we are clamoring for more laws and the government is only too happy to comply. In trying to keep ourselves safe from everything, we are risking our freedom.

  18. Amy, just because something is dangerous, should we have government control it? Should government take away our guns, because they can (and do) kill people? Should we take away cars, because tens of thousands die each year in car accidents, and hundreds of thousands are injured? Should we ban red meats because they shorten life span? Thousands die every year when propane and natural gas explodes in their homes – should we ban these? How about the train and tanker accidents we’ve seen that have dumped oil into oceans, rivers and lakes? Ban them?

    Sometimes it is better to allow individuals to accept the risks for themselves and make their own decisions. That is what God did for each of us: gave instructions and then allowed us to choose.

  19. Ram, I’d like to suggest that you run for office in the statehouse. I think your experience working with prisoners at the correctional facility uniquely qualifies you, as you are used to dealing with criminals every day.

  20. Rameumptom,
    You bring up good points and I don’t know the correct answer. It does feel funny to me that many are all for legislating the use of helmets, seatbelts, car seats, etc, but many of those same people are clamoring for the government to get out of our lives in the case of marijuana use. Maybe I would feel more comfortable with the government legalized marijuana if they were to stop making so many other laws. It seems as if there is a disconnect.

  21. Bookslinger, the criminals I dealt with were paying for their crimes. The ones at the dome are sadly being paid for accepting and giving bribes.

    Amy, I agree. This is my point in that we are over-regulated simply because someone(s) think they are smarter than the rest of us and insist in controlling everything. They either make us unwitting criminals, or subservient to their causes. Are their causes necessarily bad? Of course not. But when imposed upon everyone, we have something good forcibly pushing out our freedoms.

    There has always been someone seeking to prevent freedom from ringing. Even in the early days of our nation, we had slavery and limited rights for women. The concept is to increase freedom as we go along, which in many things we’ve accomplished so far. However, we now see an increasing attempt to replace freedom with supposed security and safety. Sadly, we’ve convinced the American public that 100 percent safety is required, and no amount of risk is acceptable. But life is all about learning to manage risks. It makes sense to limit some risks or stop them. But others we learn to live with.

  22. I spent many years dignifying irrational answers to doubts. Yet the authenticity of the church to me was more important than loyalty to my family. Over the years I noted many discussions in high priest group meetings, on Sunday, how courageous it was for a Jew or a Catholic to become a Mormon, but the converse was considered a “sinners easy way out”. This attitude was common in the church. I am impressed with those who frequent this sight. You all seem to be above such accusations. I applaud those that contribute to the millennial star. Kudos
    I have spent enough time interviewing those of other faiths to conclude that nearly all faiths have hundreds of stories of miracles and Thousands of testimonies of direct inspiration from on high. Some so frequent that it truly makes the LDS church look wanting.
    The Jehovahs witnesses, Seventh day Adventist, Fundamental Baptist. And others Truly believe their faith is the only true and living church. Mainstream Christianity, though less adamant about their specific religion, KNOW the Lord wants them right where they are, and they tell amazing stories that cement their testimonies.
    I noticed that like other religions, LDS church members seldom ever asked a question of god that has a proven right or wrong answer. Therefore the answers that comes to their heart are always right.
    Examples:
    -Should I call John to be my counselor?
    -Should I accept that job?
    -Is the church true?
    -Should I ask Jane to marry me?
    Church members almost never include testable questions, or ask God for a miracle that, through their personal inspiration, they know will come to pass. It is just to risky.
    I have not heard a real prophecy from a prophet of the church in my lifetime. Instead we receive Wise counsel and admonitions and prophecies of the dangers of a bleak afterlife for sinners. If the admonition of Moroni is true, that “by the power of the holy ghost Ye may know the truth of all things”, In a church full of the Holy Ghost, administered through the priesthood of God, Such things would be commonplace.
    Testable inspiration is scary and I believe we unconsciously avoid it. When church members inspiration is testable, and fails them, they write it out of there history. I have observed this dozens of times as a member of the church. So church members simply avoid it.
    I once housed five candidates for a high paying professional government job in my area. One was LDS and confided in me that he already knew he was going to get the job. “The Lord had revealed it to him as assuredly as the church was true”. He and his wife had already looked at several houses and were narrowing it down to where they were going to live. He wanted to know about the ward and such, as they would be living here soon. The man who was offered the job came back for a final interview a few weeks later. It wasn’t the LDS man. The retuning interviewee had a change of heart and turned the offer down. I know this because I asked him. I thought “well how about that, The LDS fellow may get the job after all”. So they called in the number 2 choice and he took the job. But again it wasn’t the LDS man. I never saw him again. I probably doesn’t even remember any of the things he told me. Most people have selective memory when their testimony is at stake.

    My Mission was two of the best years of my life. I wouldn’t trade my years in the church for any other life. I do believe it was the right place for me to be. I learned much. That being said It now makes more sense to me that God really doesn’t care what we believe, but what we become. So people choose the belief system that works best for them, and then they may leave it when they out grow it and move on to something more suitable.
    God wants all to be trustworthy, courageous, full of love, empathetic, honest, understanding, compassionate, learning to love those that disagree with them and a hundred other virtues. These are universal postulates of truth. They are self evident and accepted by all because we can hardly argue against their value.
    Every else is a man made illusion. Provable to the objective mind.

  23. Farren,
    Alma 29:8 tells us that God gives truth to each nation and people to the level they are ready to receive. So, we do believe that others can have inspiration, angels, miracles, etc., occur.
    The difference is in authority to provide exalting ordinances.

    While our prophets do not come out and say, “I am now going to prophesy…”, they do reveal the mind of God. In 1998 during priesthood session of General Conference, Pres Hinckley forewarned us of an upcoming economic disaster. He said he did not believe it would be as big as the Great Depression, but would be big. For those who listened, bought a modest home, stayed out of debt, saved money and storage, they managed the Great Recession when it hit.

    And some of us DO use testable means. Since my mission, I’ve often used this test in receiving inspiration: If it is true/correct, then let me feel good inside, however, if it is not correct, then let me feel bad inside. It led to many people receiving testimonies of the Church (now, how the chose to respond to that witness is another thing).

    Sadly, many people receive false inspiration because they are expecting God to answer them in the way they want. Many years ago as a clerk in a Young Single’s ward, my bishop told me that he had 4 women come to him saying they’d received inspiration that they would be marrying a certain man – the same man! Sometimes inspiration comes from our own heads, emotions, or desires.

    I have seen revelations and inspiration come to pass on many occasions in my callings.

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