Traditions of Our Fathers Pt 6

Being Zion
Part 6 of 7
 
Societal Character
 
How, then do we address the societal/cultural aspect of all this? Our list describes personal attributes but there is another list which provides more overall societal characteristics. The following scriptural vignettes shed some light:
 
"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."(Moses 7:18)
 
"...there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
 
"And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift." (4 Ne 1:2-3)
 
"...every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs." (D&C 51:3)
 
"And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.
 
"And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written. And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.
 
"And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them. And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ." (3 Ne 26:17-21)
 
Can you sense the societal differences here? The prospect of such a society of rational and intelligent beings, simply deciding to be good people, either excites wonder and awe that it could be accomplished, or bores you silly.
 
If the latter, we wish you well, if the former, prepare for paradigm shifts. Here's the second list:
 
1. They were of one heart.
2. They were of one mind
3. They dwelt in righteousness.
4. No poor among them.
5. No contentions and disputations.
6. Every man did deal justly one with another.
7. They had all things in common among them.
8. There were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free.
9. They were partakers of the heavenly gift.
10. Every man equal according to his family’s wants and needs.
11. They baptized and taught as many as did come unto them.
12. They taught, and did minister one to another.
13. They did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.
14. The members were called the church.
 
These societal characteristics constitute our second God-given list. Now that we have the two, our individual list from D&C 107, and this new list, we might tend to be a bit overwhelmed. That would be a reasonable response. Especially if we thought we were alone.
 
Many years ago, I volunteered to help flood victims, up a beautiful canyon, whose homes were knee-deep in mud. The scene was overwhelming to me when we first arrived. I was unsure that our little group of five, or six, or seven, could have much effect with only our backyard shovels. But, it's really quite something, when your half-dozen joins another, and another, and another, and another. 
 
Before you would have believed it possible, a home was cleared of mud and sandbagged against further weather. Then another. I watched hundreds of people, working as if directed only by the thing that must be done next. No competition. No strife.
 
People of one mind and one heart can be astonishingly effective. Can you see four equal, and completely transparent, groups of men who are designated by the Lord as spiritual stewards, temporal stewards, and two groups as missionaries, working together as if they were shoveling mud out of flooded homes? Unfortunately, Nauvoo was a different story.
 
Miracles happen when the objective is dealing justly with others and the focus is firmly and unwaveringly on the tasks the Lord has assigned. Our natural-man tendencies of competition, aspiration, and prideful coexistence, inhibit our connection with the Mind of God. By banishing these satanic tendencies, we more easily maintain an intimate relationship with the Holy Ghost, our faith increases with our successes, and miracles occur.
 
Will this four-group structure always exist in the Lord's organization? The Lord may provide a different kind of structure for those gathered in a future time. For Noah, it was his family in a boat. The Lord may provide varying structures for His purposes, times, and peoples. 
 
What is consistent, is a focus on righteousness and following the Lord, and no man. True prophets point to the Lord and eschew attention paid to themselves. No stadium-sized birthday parties, please! Men are only important when they focus on the Lord's message. When men become the focus of attention, priestcraft enters the picture and the people may be easily led astray through apostacy.
 
Picture, inside the Conference Center, as the people have taken their seats, men walk onto the stand. The audience rises. The Savior watches from the back of the room, head down, and somber. Priestcraft has that effect on Him.
 
There are no pedestals or rock stars in Zion. If there are, then it's not Zion. People there individually and collectively seek to "...do all things even as Jesus had commanded them." Societal lusts are still lusts and are not found in a Zion environment. Joseph made the point very clear with the Lord's revelation counting the top two issues holding men back from exaltation. These are surely the most difficult, for most:
 
"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men..." (D&C 121:34-35)
 
Of course, there is more to the story but if you can't get passed these two, not much else matters until you can.
 
Tomatoes in The Market
 
Now, we've come the long way around back to tomatoes in the market. We have all these extraordinary people striving for righteousness. Everyone is working together and accomplishments are many, but how do I transfer the value of my labor for you, so I can trade it for something I need from someone else? "Show me the money," as the saying goes.
 
The true reason for money is for keeping score. Paradigm shift: we're leaving that behind. What can you produce? What are your talents? Let's say you make leather goods, shoes, and boots. You have a brisk and thriving business. Nobody pays you, by design. And there are always tomatoes in the market.
 
Consider that John needs a new pair of your boots. They need to be heavy-duty work boots with steel toes because John produces metal products. He makes farm implements that can be heavy, so his feet need added protection. You fashion a dandy pair of boots for John and he is very happy. Again, all without payment.
 
Now John goes back to work. Fred shows up and needs a new plow which John happily provides. Fred takes his shiny new plow back to his farm and plows a new acre which he then plants with tomatoes. After harvesting, Fred takes his tomatoes over to Harvey, who runs the market. Harvey always appreciates Fred's beautiful tomatoes and displays them proudly. 
 
Later, you walk into the market and see that the tomatoes you expected are prominently displayed. The circle is complete. You take what you need, knowing that at every step along the way, in the supply chain, contributions were made in unseen and selfless ways by everyone you know.
 
That is how you keep tomatoes in the market without money. No need for central planning, (which never ends well). Money passing through a free-market system provides "supply and demand" signals to suppliers. People buying more of one product than another signals a supplier to make more of the item in demand and less of those that aren't. 
 
The same signals are sent in our system. Let's say everyone got a taste for Italian food. Demand for tomatoes exceeded the quantity of Fred’s usual order. Harvey tells Fred, and Fred plants more tomatoes. After a time, people get excited about Mexican food. Fred plants more corn and pinto beans and asks John for some new tools he now needs. The signals are still there, they are just communicated more directly and personally.
 
Signals pass by inventory, anyway, and we certainly can count and communicate need. "Hey Charlie, tell Fred we've ready for more tomatoes earlier this week. I guess it's Italian recipe month again!"
 
Of course, this an extremely simplistic model but the principles are the same. If people choose righteousness and follow the Lord's lead, they cannot fail. That is what Joseph said about the Kirtland Safety Society. The people chose all manner of wickedness including greed, avarice, and arrogance. They failed miserably and blamed Joseph. They thought they had a sure thing, right from the mouth of God, that they could use and abuse with impunity. They were wrong. 
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