Every Man Did Cleave unto That Which Was His Own – Ether 14:1-2

1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land.
2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.

Samuel the Lamanite prophesied to the Nephites that, if they refused to repent, the Lord would curse their riches. He said their riches would become “slippery,” and they ultimately wouldn’t be able to retain anything without keeping it in their possession constantly (Helaman 13:30-37). Mormon witnessed the fulfillment of that prophecy several hundred years later (Mormon 1:18).
Now Moroni shows us that the Jaredites had experienced the same type of societal disintegration about a thousand years earlier.
What a sad state of affairs: no one will loan or borrow anything because of a complete lack of trust! Yet this illustrates how fragile our economy is, and how dependent we are on both the trust and the trustworthiness of other people. If a small number of people are dishonest and take advantage of the system, we can generally absorb it. But there is a tipping point, where a critical mass of people refuse to play by the rules and to put the collective good above their own personal ambition. At that point, the entire system collapses, and we are all left with dramatically reduced prosperity and security.
Today, I will be grateful for a society in which I can generally trust the people around me. I will recognize the importance of shared moral values, particularly honesty, and I will strive to uphold the institutions which are representative of our confidence in each other.
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