I remember in first grade when we were learning about symmetry. The teacher first showed us butterflies and mirrors and then snowflakes. Snowflakes have six symmetrical points, yet they are supposedly unique. That has been the claim, just like fingerprints are unique. The truth is, science has never been able to prove this to be true. The only way to do that is to look at every single snowflake that has ever fallen, or take the fingerprints of every single person. It’s not realistic or reasonable to do either. Yet the idea continues that snowflakes are unique, special, and fragile.
I also remember the first time I ever used a label maker. It was so simple to punch in the letters and have the sticky tape come out with the word I had just punched in. It became so addicting I began to label everything, even things that didn’t need it.
One of the greatest parts of the Book of Mormon is 3rd and 4th Nephi. Jesus visits the American continent and teaches the people there. They become converted, the Gospel of Christ is established and the people become One, one with each other and one with Christ. 4th Nephi goes into detail of how perfect society was. There was no poor, no respecter of persons, everyone was One. They all had the Love of God in their hearts. Verse 17 says: “…neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were inone, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” Fast forward a few verses to verse 20 and everything changes: “And he kept it eighty and four years, and there was still peace in the land, save it were a small part of the people who had revolted from the church and taken upon them the name of Lamanites; therefore there began to be Lamanites again in the land.”
And that is the beginning of the end of these people. They soon begin to take on so many titles and names : “And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them…And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ…there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites; …they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle… And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.”
This is the beginning of the end for these people. They become so far from the church and righteousness that they end up fighting and fighting until the Nephites are extinct and all that is left are Lamanites. Now this might sound like fancy Mormon-lore to some. To others this is a really sad story, but as I read this again today something seemed to click in my head. These people had everything. They had a utopian society, no poor, no crime, no hate and they gave it all up for the sake of a title.
Peace ended because a small group needed to stand out. They needed to be different. They needed to be a snowflake. Once they obtained their snowflake status, others followed. It wasn’t too long after before the peace was gone, the poor, crime, and hate was back. It all came back because they wanted to have that unique title more than they needed peace. They wanted what they deemed to be their right more than what was best for everyone. They wanted their solution, their ideas, and their views to be valued over that what was benefiting everyone else. Their snowflakeness was brought on by Pride.
As I read this all I could think of was the state of our nation. We have become like Dr. Suess’s Sneetches on Beaches. We need our star to feel important, special, valued. We have our own –ites. We have our liberalites, our conservatiets, our Democratites, our Republicanites, our Blackites, Whiteites, Latinoites and all different raceites, we have our Gayites, our Transites, our straightites, our Muslimites, our Christianites, our Better Christianites, our Agnostic and Atheistites, our Americanites and Anti-Americanites, we have all manner of –ites and it’s destroying us. It seems that now you look at your neighbor and see if they voted the same as you, or believe the same as you. If they don’t well you are no longer friends, you are no longer neighbors, you are now enemies. You look at your enemyite and think how stupid and wrong they are because they are not the same as youite. There is even a story of a mother who kicked her young child out because he voted the wrong vote in a fake election at school. How sad that parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends can no longer be together because we have decided to that our –Ites are more important that being united.
One of the most famous parables that Christ taught is found in Luke: The parable of the Good Samaritan. At the time that this was spoken, Samaritans were shunned by the Jews. They were considered half-breeds (in essence). They were looked down on and not true House of Israel. It was also Law of Moses that if you come across someone who needs help, you must help them. Most know how this goes, a guy gets beaten up and robbed, left for dead on the side of the road. Two high standing members of society see him and keep on walking. A Samaritan stops. He take care of him, pays for his care, and ensures he is safe before continuing on. That Samaritan was probably busy. He probably had financial needs, but yet he put all aside to help this man who would have hated him. The story doesn’t examine how that man changed afterwards. How did he then feel about Samaritans and Priests and Levites? How did his perspective change?
A man in my ward shared a story where his friend came out to him as Gay. His friend said that they could no longer be friends because of it. This man responded “When my children do something wrong, I don’t stop loving them. I still love them and take care of them, even if I don’t agree with their choices. How is it any different for us?” How does his friend feel about him and his Faith now? How does he feel about others?
Sometimes we look to see walls and discrimination and –ites where there is only love. Those walls, discrimination and –ites is of our creating not theirs. The easiest way to end the labeling and the -ites is through Charity. It doesn’t take a grand, expensive gesture, all it takes is an open and loving heart. The hardest thing about charity is having the bravery to do it. The only way to achieve peace is by removing all other titles and claims and seeing the only label that matters: Children of God.
What labels will you put away?