Friday, June 29, 2012

Teancum and Obamacare

Yesterday I heard an interesting comment, in response to the US Supreme Court's ruling of Obamacare.  The ruling in a nutshell (for those completely uninformed on US politics) was that Obamacare passed, meaning that all US citizens will be required to have health insurance, or pay a fine (aka tax).  Someone commented how this issue is dividing so many within the country, and they foresee major catastrophes.  They referred to someone acting as Teancum, with a javelin to the heart of the opposition leadership.  I can see the parallel, because most readers of the Book of Mormon who have a clue who Teancum tend to rashly gather simply what he did, and not much about who he really was. 

In the middle of the Book of Mormon, the people the BoM speaks of were living in a very seemingly prosperous time.  It says at one point that they had never enjoyed such prosperity, since the days of Lehi.  This is saying a lot - mainly that in nearly 600 years, this was the most prosperous their civilization had become.  (Parallel: the US's prosperity of recent years, pre-recession.)  During the height of this Nephite prosperity, a group of people who thought they were of "high birth" began gathering together, to try to change the government into a kingship.  This would mean there would be one ruler, some sub-rulers, and control, opression, and even slavery for the rest.

This position was opposed, and eventually brought a lot of trouble to the Nephites.  Enter Teancum.

The was a faction, before this issue of kingships began, that tried taking their little group up to the Lamanites, who were the enemies of the Nephites.  The Lamanites were always provoking wars with the Nephites, so upon learning of this group wanting to go join the Lamanites, Moroni (leader of Nephite army) wanted to do everything he could to stop them.  He knew if they didn't stop this faction, they could have major catastrophes ahead.  So he sent Teancum and his men, who were described as "great warriors" (Alma 51:31).

In Alma 50:33, it says:
33 Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.
This army was sent "with their camp".  It was not only a long journey (which required camping materials), but meant as a peace-keeping mission.  It doesn't say they went in their full armor, even though they were an army.  Or with cimeters, swords and shields.  They went with their camp to stop their flight.  Verse 35:
35 And it came to pass that the army which was sent by Moroni, which was led by a man whose name was Teancum, did meet the people of Morianton; and so stubborn were the people of Morianton, (being inspired by his wickedness and his aflattering words) that a battle commenced between them, in the which Teancum did bslay Morianton and defeat his army, and took them prisoners, and returned to the camp of Moroni. And thus ended the twenty and fourth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
It appears that not only was Teancum a great warrior, but also sent as a negotiator, to try to convince Morianton and these dissenters to turn around.  He was highly liked, affable, and well loved, and surely he could convince Morianton to come back and figure something out peacably.  But due to Morianton's stubbornness, wickedness and flattering words, a battle commenced.  Do you think Teancum threw the first punch?  Or went in with weapons blazing?  Or do you think Morianton threw it?  I imagine so.  As Teancum was righteous, and was not only a great warrior but also supported by the hand of God, he killed Morianton in self defense, and those who were not defeated to death were taken prisoners.  I believe those prisoners had been given fair enough of a chance to concede to peace.

My point in sharing all of this is that Teancum was not one to wage war for war's sake.  He was sent to prevent it, on a small scale with this faction of Morianton and his cohorts, thereby preventing a larger war with the Lamanites.  He was a peacekeeper, but did what it took to be a great warrior to prevent such things.

In regards to how this applies with our nation's divisions, it inspires one to realize that through the intensity of what Teancum and other Nephite leaders went through, their goal was to keep peace and prosperity.  They had learned the destruction that came to their people through kingships, and did everything they could to prevent war and slavery.  If we relate our country's situation to their situation, if anything we should imitate their virtues of patriotism, involvement, preparation, wisdom, and peacekeeping.  They valued life and liberty, at all costs, but above all, they sought God's will.  People who think it's ok to push their protests to violence are beyond the mark, and encouraging destruction.  War may be prophesied of for the last days, but that does not mean we won't be judged for what we did or didn't do to prevent it.

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