Thursday, February 12, 2009

The cat is out of the bag...

I am writing this article because it is a topic that people ask me about in private on a regular basis. Those whispered conversations generally take place in the hallways at church. Make no mistake…it may make you feel really uneasy to read some of this...but I believe it to be a truthful slap in the face that many of us need. Remember this blog is a place where I attempt to "tell it like it is". My hope is that by using some candor regarding the reality of the dangers around us...that it may help some of the sleeping people that would read want to prepare. I remind you of my disclaimer on this page that points out that this blog is not affiliated with the Church in any way and that I take full credit for the points of view herein.

The news reported that “The first two churches on the scene for disaster relief were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mormon Church”. Maybe you remember hearing about that and laughing. Although people all over the world don’t completely understand our doctrine…or frankly what the name of our Church is…they know that we have reputation for helping out in times of disaster. They have seen us in our yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” T-shirts on TV and in the paper. They have seen how well organized we are…as legions of volunteers show up and go to work. They have seen giant crates of supplies arriving stamped with the churches seal. Apart from our being known for our missionaries…family values…big temples…genealogy…etc…etc…we are known as a great humanitarian organization.

On a smaller scale we are also known for our family preparedness....and as a people that store food. The irony is that only a small fraction of our people has obeyed the command from the Lord to lay up in store! Various church polls over the years have shown that only somewhere around 10% of our people have a minimum of a year's supply! Still…as a people…we are more prepared than most and as a result our governments and many of the people in our communities look to us like a child looks to its parent for protection from times of scarcity (whether we know it or not).

As many of us scrimp and save to try to get the funds together to get our own family prepared for times of adversity…the thought of having to support a multitude of unprepared people (in and out of the church) can be a weight to bare. What I am sometimes asked in whispers in the hallways at church is this..."Is it better for me to just not tell anyone about food storage…because they won’t prepare and just show up at my door for a handout when hard times come? Is it better to just keep my big mouth shut!?"

I can identify with this sentiment. A few years back I had a bumper magnet made that said “Got Food Storage” just to raise awareness. People would stop me and ask me what it meant. I would tell them about my beliefs of how "The prophets have foreseen hard times before Christ comes" and that "it is a good idea to store food and supplies for those times"...and they would almost inevitably respond…“I know where I’m coming when there’s no food! I’m coming to your house!!” I responded as lovingly as I could “You need to get your own supplies together for your family...and I'd be happy to tell you how” which they would look at me with a blank stare and then walk away. I was finding that all I seemed to be attracting were people that were planning on using me as their store! I started to get uneasy…feeling that perhaps all I was doing was advertising to everyone that I had food storage…but wasn’t really motivating them to get their own. I took the magnet off my car.

At this point one could become reclusive and decide to discontinue spreading the gospel of preparedness in order to have some sort of self preservation. One could feel that..."If no one knows I am preparing...then they won't show up!"

I am here to tell you that the cat is already out of the bag! Even if you don't directly tell people that you store food (or don’t store food) doesn't matter. People know that "The Mormons store food"...and could find out that you are a Mormon. If we learned anything from our recent involvement with prop 8 here in California…it is how quickly our anonymity as “Mormons” can be blown. It wouldn’t take long for the word to travel that the “Mormons have food”(to anyone who didn’t already know)…and for a similar list of who we are and where we live to surface. If you doubt that people know already about our storing of food and a search on the internet on “Mormon food storage” and you will see that many or most of the sites are not our own! It’s even already in the news letting people know what we are doing…and times aren’t nearly as hard as they could get!

It may play out that when there is a famine in this land…people will find you because you are a “Mormon”…expecting that you have food for them...knowing that you will be able to support them because "Hey...all active Mormons store food!". Imagine trying to explain to a hungry public that shows up at your doorstep that “Yes…I am a Mormon…and No…I didn’t store food”. Do you think they will believe you and just move to the next Mormon on the list?! These people or entities will come to us with a cupped hand…or a fist. It's hard to say exactly how everything will play out...perhaps the Lord will deliver us from such confrontations...but if not...I don't think myself out of line in thinking that this is a highly plausible scenario. If you think you are an island to yourself…you may be in for a rude awakening.

True LDS should be motivated out of love and not fear. We should want our brothers and sisters to prepare in an attempt for them to not have to suffer...because we love them...and to alleviate the moral dilemmas that can come from an unprepared community. The Golden Rule applies unto others as you would have others do unto you. I believe quite firmly that we will see some of our greatest growth in the church by including the community in our preparedness program. As our communities come out and rub shoulders with us in our preparedness activities...and see that many of us are doing our very best to not be "of the world"...and then they take the time to investigate the Lord's doctrine...and pray about it. Even if someone never takes any interest in the could be a savior of their temporal welfare in this life by helping them to get prepared.

Henry B. Eyring said in this last months Ensign...

"Now, I don’t know how the crowds will be handled in the world to come. But I suppose that I will meet him, that he will look into my eyes, and that I will see in them the question: “Hal, you knew. Why didn’t you tell me?”"
To expand on that potential conversation...perhaps one day the people that we rub shoulders with every day will also say to us..."You knew that hail was going to be sent to destroy the crops of the earth...and you said nothing". "You knew that there would be famines...and drought...and pestilences...and many of the details of how these things would happen...and you saw me every day when you dropped off your kid to school....and you said nothing". "You had prophets telling you how to prepare for these things for over 150+ years...and how to escape...and you didn't say anything to me...because you were afraid that I would do nothing to get prepared and then make myself a burden on your family."

Doctrinally I think that it would be a hard position to defend...that the Lord would currently have you not warn your brothers and sisters about the coming danger in favor of your own preservation.

Now having said that...while I do think that we have a responsibility to warn people and to influence them to get prepared....I would hesitate to go on the news saying that you have a six year supply or anything like that. There is wisdom in to not "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.". I have not put my bumper sticker back on my car. Despite what I believe is an impossibility to retain complete anonymity...I still think that the Lord would have us exercise some discretion. There is a difference in my mind between "Sharing the gospel of preparedness to help others get prepared"...and..."Making yourself a target by blabber mouthing to the world of your preparations".

Let's learn from Nephi who "Crept into the city"..."by night". Nephi who was "Led by the spirit"...still obtained the plates by "stratagem". His use of stratagem was not due to a lack of faith in the power of the Lord...but an understanding of the fact that our God expects us to use some common sense...and to pray to Him as if it all depended on Him...but work as if it all depended on us. He understood as it says in the welfare manual "Providing the Lords Way" that "He never forsakes us, but he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves".

The stratagem that seems most prudent in the sharing of the gospel of to let people know about what dangers are around let them know that you care for them...and to invite them to an actual activity to get prepared. The next stake on is on May 9th. Perhaps you could encourage your Elder's Quorum...or Relief Society...or other organization to have an activity so you can invite someone!...or a bunch of people! A few years back...people may have looked at you like you were crazy...but now...people are hungry for information on how to get prepared.

This scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants 101:8 has application...even to the unbelievers...

"In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me."

Let's do as Dallin H. Oaks has recommended...

"While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us." (Dallin H. Oaks - April 2004 General Conference)

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