Last time we explored how the principles of pride or humility get incorporated into our social institutions which then reinforce pride or humility in the people. Over time, these “cultural pumps” move the society towards Babylon and self-destruction, or towards Zion and peace and prosperity.
Let’s explore briefly how the Nephites incorporated pride into their society’s institutions of government, and the disastrous effects it had on the people.
In Mosiah chapter 11 we see that King Noah instituted Pride2 (the idea that some are more valued/important than others) into his government by establishing a professional ruling class who lived off a 20% tax on the products of the laboring class. He and his prideful priests used those taxes to satisfy their appetites for power, gain, and sexual gratification. Besides their bad examples leading the people “to commit sin”, they also built “many elegant and spacious buildings” which served to reinforce the “importance” of the ruling class. Unfortunately, the neighboring Lamanites picked up on the idea, replaced Noah’s government, and raised the taxes on the working class to 50%.
Later, Nehor lobbied for having a tax-funded ruling class. In Alma 1, Nehor taught “that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by [the labors of] the people.”
Nehor’s pride-based ideas spread and were later implemented by the government in the land of Ammonihah. Their “lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers… were of the profession of Nehor”.
Alma’s missionary companion, Amulek, in Alma 10 and 11, points out “that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the urnighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.” Their lawyers were trying to increase the reimbursements King Mosiah had allowed for lawyers to receive by “[stiring] up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness” so they could live completely off the payments they received for their previously part-time lawyering.
Unfortunately, the majority of the people had been so conditioned by this system, that Alma and Amulek couldn’t reclaim them. They were soon destroyed to a man by a Lamanite army after being warned to repent.
So, if we are to assist in building up Zion, we need to learn to recognize and root out pride-based principles in our local social institutions. One way would be to make all government positions volunteer.