One of my favorite things about the Book of Mormon is its pragmatic view of human nature. Undoubtedly, its authors knew the best and worst of the human experience, and weren’t pulling any punches.
An example of this is the honest depiction of missionary work here, namely its tediously frustrating reality. Though the Book of Mormon does have some more neutral general observations about how people are (such as here and here), most of the time the text is pessimistic.
Here are nine such passages:
1. People tend to resent the truth when it corrects them
1 Nephi 16:2
…the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
2. People tend to think that they know all that is necessary
2 Nephi 9:28
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
Our hyper-partisan society has devolved to the point where political allegiance has all the nuance and maturity of merely rooting for the home team, no matter what. It’s a tribal, visceral instinct, driven by jingoism for whichever bandwagon we’ve decided to jump on, and rabid xenophobia towards the other guys.
Ideology is all fine and good–we need conversations about values and worldviews–but rampant partisanship isn’t. It really produces no more good than the fanatical devotion to an arbitrary team we see in the sports world. No, I take that back. Devotion to a sports team is far more productive. Teams become more competitive with support. Political parties just get more corrupt.
I would love to see an increase in simple bipartisan skepticism: the slightly jaundiced tendency to scrutinize all politicians for hypocrisy, corruption, and ulterior motives. A world where more of us looked at each and every leader with a furrowed brow would be much better than the one we have now, where we assume the worst about half of them and the other half get an automatic free pass.
For believers or skeptics, atheists or theists of all stripes, might this function as a call to arms that everybody could support?
Discern the nature of reality as accurately as possible and, as far as any facts have practical applications, bring ourselves into alignment with them and exercise them habitually.
Sure, that’s just a draft, but I think it gets at the point clearly: we all just want to learn things that are true, and act on them accordingly, to the benefit of ourselves and the larger world, whether those things are secular or spiritual, artistic or scientific, or all of the above.