Included in Alma’s list of soul-searching questions to the people of Zarahemla was the following: “Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?” Alma added, “Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” (Alma 5:30-31).
To mock someone is to demean them, to treat them disrespectfully. Sometimes, we label mockery as “teasing,” which makes it sound innocuous. But it’s not. Ridiculing others does real harm.
Lehi’s neighbors in Jerusalem mocked him as he tried to warn them of danger (1 Nephi 1:19). In his dream, the great and spacious building was filled with mockers, laughing and pointing at the people partaking of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8:27). Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah were not only physically abused during their missionary service, but also mocked (Alma 14:22, Alma 21:10, Alma 26:29). The Savior’s suffering at the end of His life included being mocked (Mosiah 15:5, Matthew 20:19, Matthew 27:29, 31, 41).
When Moroni worried that people would mock his words, the Lord responded emphatically: “Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness” (Ether 12:26). This echoes a promise from Isaiah that the meek will ultimately “increase,” while “the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed” (Isaiah 29:20, 2 Nephi 27:31).
The Lord repeated that promise in an 1831 revelation. Speaking of the events leading to His return to the earth, He said:
The Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly.
And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.Doctrine and Covenants 45:49-50
Elder Gary E. Stevenson recently reminded us:
Making fun of others can evolve very dangerously. Anxiety, depression, and worse are often the companions of bullying….
There is no place for this in your cyberspace, neighborhoods, schools, quorums, or classes. Please do all you can to make these places kinder and safer.
“Hearts Knit Together,” General Conference, April 2021
And Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Everyone has the right to be loved, to feel peaceful, and to find safety at home. Please, may we try to maintain that environment there” (“Not As the World Giveth,” General Conference, April 2021, italics in original).
Today I will speak kindly to others and about others. I will avoid poking fun at others, drawing attention to their shortcomings, and teasing. I will use my words to lift others, not to push them down.