Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites in Zarahemla that the time would come when they would have a hard time holding on to their possessions:
The time cometh that [the Lord] curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them….
And then shall ye lament, and say…
Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle.
Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.
O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.Helaman 13:31-36
More than 300 years later, Mormon saw the fulfillment of that prophecy:
And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.Mormon 1:18
Samuel hadn’t explained the cause of the “slipperiness,” except that it was a consequence of their failure to repent. But Mormon’s description provides more background: Secret combinations like the Gadianton robbers had become pervasive. You didn’t know who to trust any more, so you couldn’t trust anybody.
Mormon’s son Moroni describes a similar period of anarchy at the end of the earlier Jaredite civilization:
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.
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.Ether 14:1-2
What a sad state of affairs! That complete lack of trust would severely limit the ability of any group of people to work together and get things done.
I’ve been thinking today about how much we rely on each other, and how many things I take for granted because of the civilization in which I live. When I turn on the faucet, clean water comes out. If I had a problem with the water, I could call someone to help fix it. When I park my car, I’m reasonably confident that it will be where I left it, in good condition, when I return. I buy food at the grocery store and at restaurants with confidence that it is safe to eat. If an emergency occurs, I know that there are people who will come to help.
I realize that not everyone in the world has reliable access to the resources I’ve just listed, but that’s my point. How easily we forget the trust we place in each other every day and how much we take for granted the numerous people who dependably provide the services we need.
Today, I will strive to be more aware of the ways that I depend upon other people. I will be grateful for the trustworthiness and integrity of so many people around me and will remember that our collective prosperity depends on our ability to trust one another.