Elder David R. Stone, in his Conference talk, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon”, taught that Babylon has a culture.  And, since Zion is an alternate society to Babylon, it has a culture too.  Common definitions of “culture” include the social institutions that pass on that society’s values.

I propose that it is the nature of a society’s institutions that determines whether it becomes a Zion or a Babylon society.  Society’s institutions include churches, schools, clubs, businesses, governments, etc.  If our institutions are organized and operate on Pride-based assumptions then we are a Babylon society. And, if they are founded on principles of Humility, then we are, or, are on our way to becoming, a Zion society.

“It is the nature of a society’s institutions that determines whether it becomes a Zion or a Babylon society”

Society’s institutions work like a pump, sucking in people from the society, conditioning them with either principles of Pride or Humility, and then pumping them back out into society to pass on those values to their offspring.  Rinse and repeat.  If you participate in a club, church, and business that all organize themselves and operate in a way that communicates Pride1 and Pride2*, those values will rub off on you over time.

If the pumps continue operating over generations, the majority of the people become habituated in whichever set of principles their social institutions are based on.  Conditioned as children, they grow up to raise their own children in the same environments, and as adults, they all participate daily in organizations saturated with either Pride or Humility.  Eventually, virtually everyone adopts the principles of the society around them, resulting in either a Babylon or Zion society.

An example of a church instilling Pride2 is found in the Book of Mormon.  The Zoramite religion had a rote prayer they would pray daily on top of a tower (remember the Rameumptom?).  The prayer was an expression of Pride2: “Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children….” (Alma 31:15-18).  The Zoramite religion was reinforcing Pride2, the idea that some are better than others, an idea which does not encourage Zion-like unity, but Babylon-like separation and conflict.

So, if we want to “build Zion” we should start by taking a close look at our culture’s “pumps”.