There once was a young soldier whose job it was to create a protective perimeter around his village. He was very good at his job. The landmines he planted kept his family and friends safe during the conflict. After their victory, peace was restored and the village began to prosper and grow.
As the years passed, all memory of the conflict faded. The young soldier grew into a father and then a grandfather, with a great legacy of grandchildren.
One spring, a hundred-year flood washed through the village, uncovering the remnants of the forgotten war. As the grandfather reminisced about his youth, his grandchildren were drawn to the rusty artifacts in his stories.
Suddenly, the peace was broken with an explosion!
The Cost of Landmines
Johnna Rizzo said, “At the end of the war the gun goes home with the soldier, but the landmines stay behind” (Johnna Rizzo). Landmines are meant to maim, destroying the quality of life of all who are unlucky enough to disturb them.
Each landmine costs one dollar to make and place in the ground, and a thousand dollars to remove. The financial cost, however, is insignificant when compared with the cost in human lives.
This cost is what motivated Diana, Princess of Wales, to crusade against landmines. As a mother, she could not see the shattered lives of maimed, orphaned children without being moved to compassion and fidelity.
“Fidelity is the faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief which is demonstrated by continual loyalty and support” (Njord Kane). It creates a sacred bond between two individuals.
The first relationship we experience, that which exists between mother and child, is based upon the virtue of fidelity. Mothers have the power to shape the destiny of the world through the fidelity and courage they instill in their children. One of the greatest lies ever told is that women need to move out of the home, away from the work of being mothers, before they can become powerful members of society. This is one landmine, planted long ago, that has had devastating effects on our generation. Fewer honorable women focused on raising honorable children and building strong homes leads to weakened fidelity and weaker nations.
The Power of Fidelity
An example of the power of honorable mothers can be found in the story of Helaman’s 2,000 Stripling Warriors in The Book of Mormon (which contains a history of some of the people of the ancient Americas in the centuries before and after the birth of Jesus Christ).
A large group of Lamanites (forefathers of some of the American Indians) joined with the people of God, who believed in and followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. Because of their sorrow over all of the lives they had taken in war before their conversion, they buried their weapons deep in the earth, with an oath to never again spill blood.
The greater part of the Lamanites came against them to battle. Rather than break their oath, this group was prepared to lay down their lives. Their children, however, had not taken this oath and wished to stand up and fight. A group of 2,000 young men, still stuck in the lanky, awkward state between child and adult, volunteered to fight under the direction of a warrior named Helaman.
In Alma 56:47-48, Helaman described these young men: “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
Because of the fidelity of these Lamanite mothers, and their sons’ courage in following their words, “there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds” (Alma 57:25).
These mothers changed the world through the fidelity and courage they instilled in their children. Mothers today have this same power!
The Danger of Spiritual Landmines
Like physical land mines hidden in the earth, spiritual land mines, such as claiming the insignificance of mothers, lay in wait for unsuspecting victims.
As the modern landscape of life shifts and changes, dormant landmines come to the surface, exploding at inopportune times, destroying innocence, ending opportunities, and changing the course of our lives. Those who are maimed have a difficult decision to make, resolve to stay a victim, or become a warrior, like Helaman’s 2,000. None of us need perish, although we receive many wounds.
Landmines that have been carefully planted in our group subconscious, explode years, even decades later. Ideas such as moral ambivalence, diminished self-reliance, and oath-breaking, lead to narcissistic societies which say that God is dead and that only the rational mind, supported by science, has any merit. Intuition, comprising 98% of our brain function, is dismissed as insignificant and unreliable (Marti Spiegelman). We lose our ability to practice fidelity when we are unwilling to listen to our instincts.
Practicing fidelity indiscriminately, however, can be equally dangerous. Fidelity, either forced or given, which is not based on merit, often leads us to make oaths that we have neither resolution nor intention to keep, leading to a society in which oaths have little meaning. “It’s vital to be careful to whom one professes loyalty…merit plays such an important role – if we profess our loyalty to just anyone who comes along, without them having merited our loyalty, what is our loyalty worth? Not much” (Bernulf, Nine Noble Truths: Fidelity).
Other hidden landmines include using present-ism when viewing behaviors and decisions made by governmental, religious, and philosophical leaders of the past. Discovery of weakness, mistakes, and outdated ideas in formerly trusted sources, using our current worldview, leads many to question their beliefs and leave them behind.
Why Many are Leaving Faith Behind
“Across the board (in LDS and other Christian Churches), approximately 1 in 3 Millennials are leaving the faith they were raised in for something else. For Mormon Millennials, that something else is generally a form of Atheism, and for other Millennials it is largely a mix of Atheism and Non-Denominationalism…No, crises of faith aren’t a Mormon problem. They’re a humankind problem, a civilizational problem. Faith itself is weakening in Western society” (Dustin Phelps).
As I ask myself why faith is dissolving, I picture the human family, lost in distraction, buried under abundance, hiding from problems, with no real understanding of who they are and why they are here.
Because we have forgotten that we are in the midst of a great battle between good and evil, we unknowingly step on landmines, planted long ago, and are maimed spiritually and emotionally. The quality of our inner lives is disturbed, leaving us feeling insignificant, anxious, depressed, and isolated.
The healing we need is not found in the latest trends in entertainment or thinking. Like placing a small band-aid on a large, festering wound, searching the internet for quick answers will never make us whole.
Healing through Fidelity
Instead, we need to turn to the past. We need to turn to our people. We will find healing and joy as we practice fidelity and make a place for our families, living and dead, in our lives. As we turn off our electronic devices, feast together, talk together, walk in nature together, share stories from our lives and those of our ancestors, our isolation and worries will fade. We will connect and share wisdom that will help us tackle the challenges of modern living.
Author Chuck Palahniuk observed, “Until you find something to fight for, you settle for something to fight against.” Let us stop fighting against each other, finding reasons to criticize generational, religious, and cultural differences. Let us stop expecting others to conform to our views. Let us stop criticizing ourselves for our worries and fears.
As we embrace the ancient virtue of fidelity, including being true to ourselves, we will turn the tide away from anxiety and apathy and toward joy and meaning. Let us start fighting for the virtues that bring us joy. Let us show fidelity as we embrace the noble codes of conduct from our past. Let us have the courage to share our vision and change the world!