Friday, October 15, 2010

3 Nephi 12: 40-42

3 Nephi 12: 40-42:

"And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also;  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away."
This is the point Mark Twain quipped included him in the Bible. He suggested "Go with him Twain" is Divine notice given him.
The cloak covers the cloak. If someone wants one, give them both. Without conflict. Without retaliation. Give those who demand.
The law allowed a Roman soldier to compel a civilian to bear a load for a mile. Christ said submit, and go a second mile to demonstrate you have not been compelled at all. You have chosen to give the service.
When asked, give. When someone needs to borrow, let them.
What a markedly different world this would be.
The results of an entire society behaving in this manner would be Zion itself. There would be no poor.  Those with the means would share, those in need would ask. The resulting cooperation and mutual assistance would solve many social ills. But such a society would necessarily be voluntary. To attempt to level the economic circumstances of society by force would be an imprisonment, not a liberation. Government cannot impose it, but men can voluntarily implement it.
In our early post-Nauvoo distress, there was a brief time when we flirted with notions like these. We did some voluntary collective work on providing a social system to benefit everyone. Those ended because of the bickering and turmoil. We went back to tithing, which still today allows us to retain our individual fortunes and limit sharing our individual misfortunes.
The question is what happens when a society continues to suffer from all the ills of our own, but a single individual chooses to live these principles. What then? Can a person really live like this when he or she alone is guided by these principles?
Common agreement is that this sermon's admonitions are impractical. They won't work. They can't be lived by a single person acting alone, or a small group acting together, because a larger corrupt society will overwhelm and exploit them. Therefore, Christ is teaching what cannot be done. At least cannot be done by anyone who is unwilling to try it. Occasionally we get a Mother Teresa or a Saint Francis, but they're Catholic. Surely it can't work with Latter-day Saints who are busy studying Steven Covey's books, polishing their resumes and looking to find a secure middle-management position from which to launch their successful careers. Maybe a handful of good, believing Catholics will found Zion. Then we can come in and help manage the results after it becomes well enough established. After all, we have the true franchise from which Zion will be built. We even own a bank already named for the venture.
It makes you wonder why Christ would preach something which only a handful of Catholics have successfully accomplished in an individual setting.