What Was the Title of Liberty?

Captain Moroni was appalled at the listless response of his people to a serious threat to their freedom. A year earlier, he had led the Nephite armies to victory over an enormous invading army. His forces had been victorious because they were “inspired by a better cause” than their enemies (Alma 43:45):

To support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires (Alma 43:10).

Now, they faced a similar adversary. A man named Amalackiah wanted to abolish their system of government and become their king. He was preparing to accomplish this objective by force, and many people had been convinced by his flattering words. The remainder of the people appeared to not recognize the imminent threat to their freedom.

Searching for a way to galvanize the people into action, Moroni remembered the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. After some of Joseph’s brothers sold him to a group of Ishmaelites, the oldest, Reuben, was horrified at what they had done. To communicate his outrage, “he rent his clothes” and said to the other brothers, “The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?” (Genesis 37:29-30). Shortly thereafter, when their father Jacob was told that Joseph had died, he “rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And…he refused to be comforted” (Genesis 37:34-35). The act of ripping their clothing sent a dramatic message to everyone nearby: They were angry. They were shocked. They were horrified at what had happened.

Years later, after Joseph and his family were reunited in Egypt, Jacob showed the family a fragment of the coat of many colors which had survived all of those years. He said:

Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.
Now behold, this giveth my soul sorrow; nevertheless, my soul hath joy in my son, because of that part of his seed which shall be taken unto God (Alma 46:24-25).

Perhaps all of those stories of ripped clothing gave Moroni an idea of how to invigorate his people:

And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—

In memory of our God,
our religion,
and freedom,
and our peace,
our wives,
and our children—

and he fastened it upon the end of a pole (Alma 46:12).

He traveled around the land, waving this fragment of his coat, which he called the “title of liberty” or the “standard of liberty” (Alma 46:13, 36), urging the people to unite to defend their freedom. In response, the people came running. They ripped their own clothing, throwing fragments at the feet of Moroni as a symbol of their commitment to defend their freedom.

When people know what is right but are failing to act, a sincere invitation expressed with confidence and conviction (and perhaps with some creativity) may spur them to action.

Today, I will remember the power of a single person to inspire others. I will be brave in expressing my convictions, trusting that others will respond and will be willing to take appropriate action.

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