Last time we “reasoned together” and came to two conclusions:
- 1. Pride is the great steppingstone to Babylon, and
- 2. Humility is the great steppingstone to Zion.
These two ideas may not seem like much to you if you’re wondering how a simple character trait as pride or humility can lead a whole society to become super-wicked or righteous. Though you may be somewhat familiar with the concept of Zion, you may be less familiar with Babylon. So let me clarify a little.
The scriptures tell us that a Zion society is one where the people are “pure in heart”, they have one heart and one mind, they live in righteousness, and there are no poor among them (D&C 97:21; Moses 7:18). This kind of society has no crime, no contention, no very rich or very poor, and no government corruption. They enjoy continual peace and prosperity (4 Nephi 2-3, 15-18). In fact those same verses report that “surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” Wouldn’t you like to live in a society like that?
Babylon, according to Elder D. Todd Christopherson is “the antithesis and antagonist of Zion”. Babylon is everything Zion is not, and then some; corrupt government, rampant crime, and division of society into hostile classes. You’d hate to have to live there, wouldn’t you? (Actually, you do live there, but that’s a whole other article).
So, you may be wondering, “If I’m proud of my daughter’s soccer skills… that leads to a totally corrupt society?” No. Let’s take a close look at pride as well. President Benson’s landmark talk, “Beware of Pride” (April 1989), explains that it’s God’s definition of pride we need to be worried about, not our modern usage of it. Pride is when we disrespect God and His wisdom, and, we disrespect our fellow man. He says it this way:
“The central feature of pride is enmity–enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.’ …Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s… in the spirit of ‘my will and not thine be done.’
“…pride [also includes] enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. ‘…it is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.'”
In short, pride is “Big Me vs. Little You” (and also, “Big You vs. Little Me”). Instead of valuing our neighbor equally to ourselves, we put our own happiness and well-being above that of others. Or, we put others up on a pedestal and see them as better-than ourselves. Neither is true.
So, how do individuals’ character trait of pride lead to a totally corrupt society? It all starts with how we look at our neighbors (and our spouses, children, and parents). If we look at others through the lens of pride, we see them in one of two ways: as “less-than” or “greater than” ourselves. To feel better about ourselves, our “natural man” criticizes them, mocks them, or judges them harshly. We shun them, avoid them, and/or spread false rumors about them. Thinking this way about others makes it easier for us to justify committing crimes against them, like theft, adultery, and even murder. This is a direct violation of God’s will for His children. In Mosiah 23:7 it states, “…for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another….”
And it doesn’t end there. Once pride becomes widespread in a Democratic Republic like the United States, we begin to elect leaders and representatives who view themselves as better-than the rest of us. So they then pass pride-based laws compelling us to “do good” (Lucifer’s plan). After that, they realize they can implement laws to their economic advantage – building bridges to no where, funding the pet projects of friends and relatives, etc. The result is a corrupted and oppressive government. Then the citizens, seeing their government leaders ripping off and abusing the public, feel justified in abusing and ripping off their neighbors, and the downward spiral ensues. So, you see, that is how pride is the steppingstone to Babylon.
In sharp contrast, when the vast majority of the people view their neighbors through the lens of humility – they see them as equals, equally valuable in the site of God and equally deserving of having their needs met. Such people easily act with patience, compassion, and kindness towards their fellows, having no motivation to prove themselves superior to them.
Such people are much more likely to take personal responsibility for their neighbors’ misfortunes. They are much more likely to launch and join cooperative enterprises designed to fill any local unmet needs. If they are the majority, they will elect people to represent them that share their same perspective. Such leaders would not only repeal laws motivated by special interests, but are also more likely to encourage the people to solve their own problems locally rather than to depend on the force of government to solve them, thus lessening the burden of government on the backs of the people. With local economic needs met, a rare few would steal what everyone already enjoys. Thus, humility is the steppingstone to Zion.
This chart captures the essence of this article: The Lenses. Feel free to distribute.