During the month of May, I studied chapters in the Book of Mormon which discuss governments: the characteristics of good governments, the characteristics of good leaders, what we can do to contribute to good governments, and how to avoid activities which damage governments. I focused on the following stories:
- Nephi, Zeniff, and Jared establish new civilizations (2 Nephi 5, Mosiah 9-10, Ether 6).
- Mosiah establishes a system of judges (Mosiah 29).
- Lamoni’s father proclaims religious freedom (Alma 23).
- King Noah reigns in wickedness (Mosiah 11).
- Gideon’s courage (Mosiah 19, 20, 22; Alma 1).
- The Amlicites and Amalackiah create social unrest (Alma 2-3, 46-47).
- The Gadianton robbers destroy the social order (Helaman 1-2, 6, 8; 3 Nephi 2, 6-7).
- Four generations of peace after the visit of the Savior (4 Nephi).
- Lessons from the reigns of the Jaredite kings (Ether 7-11).
From my study, I learned the following principles, which I have tried to incorporate into my life during the month:
- Good government depends on the goodness of its citizens.
- Be judicious about the trust you place in other people. Support leaders of integrity, wisdom, and compassion.
- Follow your conscience regardless of the pressure you receive from others.
- Make wise private decisions: Avoid doing injustice to yourself.
Kindness and Inclusiveness
- We need to build relationships of trust with people who are different from ourselves, so that we can avoid separating into tribes.
- We are all more productive when we share our talents and leverage one another’s strengths.
- Likewise, we are all enriched by access to a diversity of ideas. We should therefore cultivate an environment of respect for the ideas of others and a willingness to listen to each other.
- We are the happiest when we can overcome contention and treat one another as equals.
- We should boldly defend the rights of the people around us. In particular, we should defend and support people who are being disrespected or ignored.
- Minister to others rather than seeking power over them.
- Be careful not to abuse the authority you have been given.
- Empower those you lead. Remember that they can choose whether to follow you or not.
- Avoid making disagreements personal, and exercise self-restraint.
- Speak up to inspire others.
- Be optimistic, but also acknowledge candidly the challenges you face.
- We should both prepare for adversity and pray for God’s help when we experience it.
- Adversity can help us humble ourselves and draw closer to God.
Fallacies of the Gadianton Robbers and Other Secret Combinations
- Avoid the fallacies of the Gadianton robbers: Resist pride, and don’t collaborate in deceitful activities.
- Avoid the fallacies of Jaredite secret combinations: Don’t prioritize loyalty to the group over decency to people outside of the group. Don’t attempt to retain loyalty by fear. Remember that God knows all things and that you can’t keep anything secret from Him.
Reasons to Avoid Monarchy as a Form of Government
- Recognition can be a distraction from the work which will bring true happiness.
- All of God’s children are of equal value in His sight.
- We should be cautious when making choices that will limit our future freedom.
- A group of people counseling together is more likely to make consistently wise decisions than an individual working alone.
- We should all be engaged in the process of ensuring that we are governed effectively.