Traditions of Our Fathers Pt 5

Being Zion

Part 5 of 7

How Does Anything Get Done If You Can't Order It Done?

Okay, so we vibrate. Perhaps there is a kind of vibratory grid in the universe supplying both power and quickening. Quickening provides life. Power sustains it. When was the last time you gave one thought to your heartbeat? And yet it keeps on ticking. I get all that. But how does all this philosophizing and metaphysical mumbo jumbo keep tomatoes in the market?

In fact, how does anything get done if you can't order it done? There are two sides to that coin. How does anything get done in a coercive environment where everyone is unhappy, anxiety rules the day, and the masses make no move without authoritative permission? The history of this world, is one lesson after the other in unrighteous dominion, right up to the present day. Where power is centralized, there will be envy and corruption. Again, we wonder whether power corrupts, or does power attract the corruptible? Perhaps some are attracted by the chase for power and games for the honors of men. People paying fawning deference to you, and rising when you enter a room does not a humility incubator make.

This is when aspiration and ambition raise their ugly heads. It is no surprise to anyone that "authority" is fiercely competitive. We think in terms of "career path" and a "diversified portfolio" when the future is considered. The payday consists of money, coercive power, and notoriety. The cost is:  Everything else.

Leaving Babylon requires leaving behind the very things glorified by our false cultural traditions. "Few there be that find it," (3Ne 14:14), suggests a difficult path for which many, or perhaps, most, are unwilling to meet the requirements of sacrifice. On the altar must go our competitive natures and faith in the things of this world. Faith in Christ is much more satisfying and eternally profitable.

Moving Forward

Let's assume, then, that we are willing to move forward and are excited to do so. How does the logistical machinery work in this new environment? How do we know what to do, without centralized supervisory steering and a chain-of-command, as the machinery's backbone? 

Uncovering the answers to this challenge requires a review of the "machinery" question. Of what purpose is this "machinery," in the first place? 

A hierarchical authority structure requires a framework of rules, regulations, and policies. Add to that, an administrative "order" tasked with enforcement. Those "supervisors' who rise in the "order" gain increasing use of the rules, regulations, and policies to justify their governorship, and subordinates dutifully respond with deferential obedience. Please delete this administrative alternative from all consideration. We will leave it behind. No authority is derived from position.

Recall and study, once again, the Lord's specific instruction about the personal and behavioral requirements for advanced organizational success:

"The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;

"Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord." (D&C 107:30)

Did you get that? “…abound in them." That's a far cry from "...happens once in a while, maybe. In a good month." And, sorry, but one guy endlessly quoting another doesn't qualify for anything but efficient staff writers, and the bean-counters are happy for the cheap lesson manual fodder. 

"Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith." (Jer 23:30-31)

Glaciers Calve

Not only do we not "abound" in these things, we move like a glacier away from them. Not quickly, but quickly enough. Generations cannot hide the digression of "authority" and knowledge. Glaciers calve. Large pieces come loose, float away, and melt in warmer waters. And, it's always been that way, save twice.

We, head in the opposite direction of the glacier's movement, toward proficiency in the Lord's list. Small, but steady, increments of improvement and progress keep us ahead of the glacier's inevitable decay. The faster our improving speed, the closer to the Lord we become.

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1John 3:1-3)

This is how we become like Him. The qualities the Lord lists must become our "character, perfections, and attributes," if we expect consistent connection with the Mind of God. When these qualities abound in us, we focus on the good in other's ideas and those inspired, constructive ideas we might contribute. We, become the organic organizational "machinery." Now we add back the vacuum notion.

To reiterate, pressure creates opposition, which never ends well. A vacuum has the opposite effect. A vacuum, or lack of pressure, pulls us in, entices us, persuades us, and invites. Rather than "push" our idea forward, we present the idea with no ulterior motive, no thought for our own aggrandizement or hierarchical advancement. Our only motivating thought is the success of the endeavor and a smile from the Lord. And He would be generous with those.

How different would be our meetings if such a tack were taken? Joseph tried to convince:

"How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending...let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy." (TPJS pg. 137-138)

The usual suspects surround a conference table. There are no thoughts about the organizational promotion my brilliant idea might produce. Around the table are friends rather than adversaries, or co-conspirators. There exists no hierarchy used to climb up over these bodies and no deference-seeking strong-man holds veto power. Traditional "consensus" is only the first rung on our strategic organizational ladder. Until we progress some, that ladder extends far beyond our limited view. An unwavering rudder set to unvarnished truth, with an honest and unbiased consideration and weighting of issues, make decision-sailing smoother. Offense is absent.

Our meeting begins with a summation of the issue by one closest to it. The one summarizing might mention that Steve had a good idea about this. No one else vies for position. The floor belongs to Steve, who voices his thoughts and analysis. After Steve, there is no rush to grab the floor. Someone else relates that Sue had some good ideas on the matter. Sue then takes the floor.

And so it goes, in a vacuum devoid of the usual fight for position or credit. Opinions are requested and never insisted upon. Thoughts are enticed from people, not pushed by them. Mostly, people listen, and think, and create. Perhaps, the Ben Franklin pro/con chart, or something far more sensitive, is used to make sense of the issue. 

Old Ben's method works very well when used correctly. Time and consideration are given their due, and weights are applied to items on each side. When Oliver failed at translation, the Lord said, " it out in your mind..." (D&C 9:8). Ben knew how to do that.

" Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly.“

Now this is Franklin, the philosopher, in the next paragraph:

"And tho' the Weight of Reasons cannot be taken with the Precision of Algebraic Quantities, yet when each is thus considered separately and comparatively, and the whole lies before me, I think I can judge better, and am less likely to take a rash Step; and in fact I have found great Advantage from this kind of Equation, in what may be called Moral or Prudential Algebra." (Ben Franklin, in a letter to Joseph Priestley, London, September 19, 1772.)

Oh how I love his use of language! Poetic, concise, and brilliant; how can you read Franklin, and not be the better for it?

Back to our meeting, imagine these people working together and thoroughly enjoying it. Such a group would continue to improve their problem-solving skills to heights we cannot yet grasp. Imagine a society of such people, meek and lowly of heart, and smart as a whip. The knowledge of God is common among them and all are equal. Joy abounds. The Lord walks among them.

All this would be uninteresting to many, but a wonderful dream to others. Now that we've imagined the possibilities of such a Zion-like organizational environment, we return to the realities of Nauvoo.

Joseph did the best he could to lead the people to a beginning where they could grow into such an environment. His errand from the Lord was not to establish Zion, but the Lord wanted them to have a taste.

Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants details that organizational taste. In summary, the Lord assigned four specific responsibilities to four corresponding groups. Each group shared equal authority but was independent of the others. I've left behind much detail, of course, but the framework is easily visible. These are the very groups to which the Lord directed D&C 107:30; our list.

Could administrative groups succeed, in such equality if their members were any less than the Lord described? Did He provide those clues to a more spiritual character because, without them, the endeavor was doomed to failure? Apparently so.

We are special after all, though. The inhabitants of this earth hold a unique position among all the Lord's handiwork. We are the most wicked. (Moses 7:36) Like colorful threads of yarn woven into a thick blanket, wickedness is so woven into the very fabric of our society. It is everywhere, it is pervasive, and it looks like George Clooney. (All due respect to Mr. Clooney. I use him only as an example of pleasantly near-perfect persuasive perfection. Wickedness is nothing, if not that.)

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