Friday, April 20, 2012

All is Well

For the last week or so I've been working on a book called Nephi's Isaiah, by Denver Snuffer.  I hope no one gets tired of hearing me source his writings.  I've found them to be quite impressionable in my mind, and have been quite prayerful in determining if I believe some of his interpretations of scripture.  Much of what he writes I feel very enlightened by.

One thing I read today really has me pondering. 

He writes about "Zion".  Latter-day Saints have scripture that defines Zion as the "pure in heart".  The author describes how we are nowhere close to achieving Zion, and we have much to repent of.  Much too much greed, selfishness, hard-heartedness, pride, etc.  This I can agree with.

He then discusses how there are no poor in Zion, and that we have not yet taken care of our poor.  He also quotes Nephi in saying that there are those that remain in their poor states because they lack learning.  I tried to believe this one, but thus far, I have a hard time understanding if this is to be taken on a local (Utah), national (US), or international scale. 

I could consider myself and our family poor.  We live in a mobile home in an area that many would call the "ghetto" of our town.  We have more student loan debt than I am happy with, and credit card debt to match the student loans.  Thus far, job prospects in this miserable economy are very, very scarce, and these bills exceed our current standard of living.

That said, I feel very wealthy.  Despite our debt, we have ALL of our needs met.  Gas for the cars (thank you, Mastercard), the most comfortable beds one could imagine (thank you SleepNumber), food in our fridge (thank you coupons), and for living in the "ghetto", I feel safe walking the street at night (Praise God for all!:).  We have electricity to light every room, clean, drinkable running water, and health care available to anyone.  (Granted, I have no health insurance, but that doesn't mean I can't get care if I need it, with multiple hospitals within a 10 minute drive.)  We have access to free libraries where I can read just about any book I want, on any topic I can conceive of.  And if I really needed help, there are a myriad of places I could count on to get help, should I be in desperate circumstances.  I can say, write, and think what I want, without fear of persecution or imprisonment.  I am so blessed, and so is every soul who lives in this land of freedom, even if they truly do live in a real ghetto.

When contemplating my rich and poor estate, I wonder, "Have I lacked because of my poverty?  Has our family not had the opportunity for a good education because of our lack of money?"  I think this is all relative.  I honestly can't grasp what Snuffer is talking about, unless he's talking on the global scale here.  Perhaps it is because I live in relative security, and have never truly been out on the streets.  Is this what he's talking about - that Nephi is warning us to help the homeless and hungry more?  Do we not have places that take care of these matters readily?  Or is he saying that we should be more individually invested in doing this care-taking for those around us? 

When it comes to education, I know there are millions of people who would LOVE to have the so-called "crappy" education people whine about being so abysmal in the US.  Perhaps in Chile or Ghana they don't have access to Visa or Mastercard to cover their school expenses not covered by Government sponsored student loans.  (My friend Jessie told me US student loan debt has now topped $1 trillion.  All for "education".)  

I went to political caucuses here in Utah a few weeks ago, and heard people whining about so many things.  Things they felt entitled to, like a "better" education, ensuring their "social security", and "medicare" and "medicaid".  It disgusted me, that in a room full of 90% Mormons, at least half of the room was more concerned about not losing their benefits than the effect their government dependence would have on the upcoming generation.  I really don't get Snuffer's suggestion here.  Perhaps he thinks that we, as Latter-day Saints, should be sponsoring one another in these endeavors.  Should I expect him, Brother Snuffer, a successful attorney, to aid me in paying off my education?  Is this what he was referring to?  {Maybe he was!  If that's the case, I welcome anyone with a load of money to feel free to contribute to our cost of education. :)}

Despite my lack of understanding, I have felt compelled lately to be more involved, globally.  Our world is so much smaller than it ever has been, in the sense that we can talk to someone around the world on the phone if we like.  Airplanes cross the globe daily, so sending assistance to those truly poor is just a matter of having enough postage to get the help there.  I don't feel like many here in the United States have a clue.  Many US Constitution lovers say the Constitution tells us to mind our own business, globally.  I submit that had the technology existed to assist those in other countries when the Constitution was constructed, the Founding Fathers certainly would not have prohibited us from assisting others because they're beyond our borders.  Is this what Nephi's talking about?  Would he be concerned that we stay within our man-made boundaries?

There was a man holding a sign asking for money here in Orem several months ago.  I got out of my car and offered him some of my groceries in the trunk.  He turned me down.  Was it that he wasn't hungry, but just wanted money?  I shake my head in confusion. 

Back to the start.  Brother Snuffer, since we can't comment on your blog, I'd surely like to know, if LDSs are not doing nearly enough to help those around them, what more do you suggest?  Is it that it isn't sufficient to donate monies to the tithe and offering funds?  Do we need to be more personally involved?  Or am I just completely and utterly spoiled, even in my lower class level of US living?  That's probably the case. 

And as far as education, my opinion is that anyone–at least in the United States–who puts forth enough work and is inquisitive enough has the world of opportunity available to them.  If not in your state, walk to another one.  Hitchhike, whatever.  At least here in America, you have the freedom to do so.  I thank my Father in Heaven for that freedom.  Many beyond our borders are not so fortunate.

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