Friday, March 24, 2006

Strong Families Dissipate the Disparity of Honesty

Summary: The family is the fundamental unit of society. But what happens when that fundamental unit is repressed by government? The result is a lack of honesty in families.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that the family--not government, not a church body, nor anything else—is the fundamental unit of society. It is interesting to note how pervasive is the importance of family throughout the world. No pain is as exquisite the world over as the loss of a spouse, a child, or some other member of the immediate family. Serving in the Middle East has impressed me with remarkable force the validity of the maxim “Me against my brother; me and my brother against our enemy.” And the importance of belonging to a chosen family lineage is high in many religions, to include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

A friend of mine recently remarked how he had learned that he could trust all but “1 of every 1,000” American servicemen and women to keep their word. “With Iraqis, this number is probably 50%,” he mused sadly. The reason why this is, he said, is because Iraqi mothers and fathers do not teach their children what is right and what is wrong. He may have an overly optimistic estimation of American honesty, but his premise is correct. More Americans can be trusted to keep their word, because they have been taught by their parents the importance of honesty and integrity.

Why the disparity of honesty between the two countries? Is it because Christianity has better teachings than Islam? No. The teachings of Muhammad are in nearly every way as sublime as the teachings of Christ and the prophets. In my opinion, the blame for this disparity lies elsewhere.

The human soul yearns to breathe free. In the absence of liberty, a gloom pervades one’s subconscious telling him that he is not the master of his own fate. This gloom is often so repressed that the individual scarcely recognizes its existence, yet due to this gloom he is constantly prescribing limits to his own freedom, which limits he also seldom notices. This self-limitation is a defense mechanism against the Ministry of Repression (usually the national government), which essentially is that ‘I will limit myself in order to spare myself the ignominy of repression by the Ministry’.

Nearly always, the Ministry of Repression prescribes a new manner of belief. Most members in the repressed society go along with this prescription, because it makes their otherwise unbearable lives more comfortable. Whereas in a free society, there can never be a “law against a man’s belief”, because that will “bring men onto unequal grounds”[1], in a fear society, the Ministry of Repression maintains its power by prescribing a common belief. Because the Ministry promulgates social belief, the family feels endangered if it steps into this arena. Therefore, only the brave remind their children to be honest in an atmosphere of pervasive dishonesty.

One of the reasons I am glad that America and her allies are serving Iraq is that our intent is to help remove the gloomy Cloud of Repression that hangs over a benighted country that suffered for far too long the ravages of Saddam. Repression and the resentment that is naturally generated against such butchery and debauchery are not easily forgotten. But I am confident that as the light of freedom shines more brightly on the land of Iraq, more Iraqi families will become confident in their God-given role to teach honesty and integrity to their children.

And thus the disparity of honesty will vanish.

[1] The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Alma 30:7)

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