February 14, 2014 by christopherpdavey
The scriptures, often in detail, describe the modern era fate of Jews and American Indians. Once righteous, these groups fell victims to massive violence. The quality of this destruction, meets both the minimal, legalistic killing definitions of genocide enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and emerging scholarly conceptualizations that recognize both the social group “obliteration” and cultural destruction that accompany varying forms of structural, direct, and cultural violence.
Belief in the “Plan of Salvation” indicates that surely death is not the end; in fact, this life is only the cusp of our existence. However, the suffering a victim of destruction incurs is not encapsulated only in death, but in the loss of identity, dignity, family, friends, home and material goods, eradication of history and culture, accompanied by torrents of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual anguish and suffering. Consider how a Jew who survived any number of ghettoes and camps was just as obliterated as those who met their demise through the barrel of an SS automatic weapon. Although, this divine path does provide the sublime deliverance of the Atonement, which allows fundamental comprehension of all suffering and its alleviation. So why should we be concerned with the destruction of others, if such a celestial coverage exists?
The apparently abstract principle of universal love between fellow children of God should offer a starting point to answering this question. Essential to Christianity is the egalitarian compassion that must exist between all people, therefore casting a troubling, and even sinful hue on the commission of any violent act that destroys in any degree. The discrepancy here is the acts of destruction engaged in by God; however, it is in omniscience that He sees human will and intent, and the perils of mortal life. It is clear while God did not approve of the Egyptians’ idolatry and treatment of the slave nation of Jews, their actions fulfilled divine purpose in conditioning hearts to contrition and repentance. And no doubt the contemporary trajectory of total weaponry will be involved in some way in the coming destructions of the Second Coming. Evil acts fulfill the purposes of God; Job’s life attests to this in terms of loss, suffering and abandonment. However, as we see, do not have His omniscience we are unable to see the virtue in these kinds of deep suffering. We often struggle to see it in our own lives. How, then, should we engage with the varying degrees of Jobidity around the world?
Christ’s example in His ministries and Atonement has cleaned-up any immediate qualms one might have about responsibility for suffering. If it is the case the God omnisciently causes suffering, His Atonement covers such and provides deliverance. It is then a moral imperative that we alleviate suffering, love victims/executioners, and prevent destruction we may cause. What, then about the stories we tell? How should our story-telling influence the present? Divine punishment and fulfillment of prophecy does not excuse abuse of our own moral agency in our own participation, through omission or commission, in atrocity. Chances are that if, as the ancient Egyptians found themselves, you are the Lord’s weapon you yourself are on the wrong end of the Law. Acknowledgement of atrocity in history, prophetic or not, then is required by us under our remit of compassion, understanding and accountability. These latter qualities should then, for any Christian, translate into selfless faith and works.
Application of this can be found in a narrow, but fruitful example. Prophetic destruction was visited on nation after nation of indigenous people from Columbian exchange to the achievement of Manifest Destiny, lauding “sea to shining sea”. Utah itself had a part to play in this march of progress, although perhaps not as aggressively or consistently as elsewhere. The vivid descriptions of forts being raised against the victims of Gentile atrocity in 2 Nephi 26:15 are historicized in texts such as Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. If reconciliation for such acts forms a gaping hole in the moral fabric of Western society, then action and historical revision is demanded on our part.
For centuries, reconciliation and recompense for this particular series of “American” episodes, has taken the form of cash and poisoned welfare: a capitalist solution for a human crises. We must look to our brothers and sisters and see from their eyes and from such a history start to heal broken futures. Just one indication of such a step forward was recommended in recent years by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, was firmer respect and consultation of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples on land auctions in the Black Hills. Since this, and many other sites, holds such great spiritual significance, of which most US lawmakers haven’t the foggiest, it would be a further step of reconciliation to consider the restoration of similar sites to Indian control.
In sum, it appears that God requires from us total submission: whether or not we directly/indirectly participate in prophetic or human atrocity, He seeks total Christlike acceptance of responsibility for past and present in our compassionate recognition of others as eternal equals in His family.
 See Christopher Powell’s Barbaric Civilization and Adam Jones’, New Directions.
 The same could also be said about the Assyrians, Babylonians, Lamanites/Nephites, Gentiles, and other instruments in the hand of God, although still through their own moral agency (2 Nephi 20:1-7).
 UN News Centre, “UN human rights expert calls on US to consult with indigenous people of land sale,” available at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp/html/www.fao.org/story.asp?NewsID=42723&Cr=United+States&Cr1=#.Uv4Xp2RdWG4