In 1877, Brigham Young taught:
“Supposing that the property of the whole community were divided today equally amongst all, what might we expect? Why a year from today we should need another division, for some would waste and squander it away, while others would add to their portion. The skill of building up and establishing the Zion of our God on the earth is to take the people and teach them how to take care of themselves and that which the Lord has entrusted to their care, and to use all that we command to glorify his holy name. This is the work of regenerating, of elevating mankind to the higher plane of the Gospel; in other words, of simply teaching them their duty.”
In this quote, Brother Brigham makes the point that the economic unity of a Zion society, where Consecration & Stewardship hold sway, is less “income-sharing” and more “wisdom-sharing” and “skill-sharing”. The point is that out of love for our fellowman, we are to help others become as productive as ourselves. This cooperative view of economics is the spirit of Zion – where the more successful “rich” help the less successful “poor” through training and guidance.
In contrast, Competition, where we leave our neighbor to sink or swim in the dog-eat-dog economy, is Babylon’s way. Our keeping of the Second Great Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves is given expression through our collective efforts to, as Brigham put it in that last quote, “elevat[e] mankind to the higher plane of the Gospel” – Love applied to the realm of economics.
After the housing crisis of 2008, several members of our ward’s high priests group were struggling to make their mortgage payments. Three ended up losing their homes in foreclosure. As the secretary of our group, in our group leadership meetings, I asked if as a group we couldn’t somehow rally behind these brothers and find a way to help them save their homes. Blank stares.
It was then I realized that we LDS have absorbed Babylon’s view that competition rules. “If our fellow members lose their homes due to their own lack of wisdom, it’s nothing to us. It’s their own fault.”
Wo unto us. Here’s what King Benjamin, in Mosiah 4, had to say to that:
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
The Lord expects us to help each other along, not leave each other to the wolves of Babylon’s iron law of competition.