1 | We have examples of thriving, sustainable societies in the scriptures. Elder Christofferson describes two different Zion societies in his talk: the city of Enoch and the society in the Americas following Christ's visit to them after his death and resurrection. Sometimes when I think about these societies, I feel overwhelmed thinking about how righteous they were. When I examine myself, I know I have a long journey ahead of me to be the type of person who thrives in a Zion society. However, one comforting thought came to me as I pondered these concerns—the peace and prosperity in these societies did not come because the people never struggled or disagreed. They enjoyed these blessings because of how they reacted when difficulties did arise. I imagine that when feelings were hurt, they gave each other the benefit of the doubt. When they disagreed, they worked to find common ground. They practiced unselfishness, charity, and humility between themselves. Struggles will always arise in mortality, but we can choose to react to them in a higher, holier way.
2 | Elder Christofferson is giving us an apostolic warning. It's safe to say we've all experienced some degree of upheaval and uncertainty this year. Whether we've been affected by disease, natural disaster, economic instability, or simply the anxiety of observing the struggles of others, we are seeing the imperfections of mortality and the results of the Fall. When I first listened to this talk, I scribbled in my general conference workbook, "We are being warned about our society falling apart." Many of the moral guideposts that we know bring stability and joy within a community are being cast aside and even mocked as backward or outdated. Now more than ever, we need to stand as witnesses of Christ and demonstrate our willingness to obey the commandments, love and serve others with Christlike charity, and share the truths that strengthen us. No matter what happens in the world around us, when we hold fast to the truths we possess, we can take comfort in knowing we have the support of our Heavenly Father.
3 | Sustainable societies begin in our homes. We all belong to many different groups–wards, Relief Societies, parent-teacher associations, clubs, and professional organizations. But the primary organization we belong to is that of our home and family, however that looks in each of our individual lives. If we are going to be a force for righteousness, we must first seek to create that harmony with the people who are closest to us–the ones we love the most, but also the ones who may push our buttons the most. When our closest relationships are characterized by charity, humility, meekness, and service, those values will expand to our other relationships and interactions and bless the societies around us.
"Reliance on culture and tradition alone will not be sufficient to sustain virtue in society. When one has no higher god than himself and seeks no greater good than satisfying his own appetites and preferences, the effects will be manifest in due course."
D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON
"If enough of us and enough of our neighbors strive to make our decisions and guide our lives by the truth of God, the moral virtues needed in every society will abound."
D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON
INVITATION: Elder Christofferson says, "There is much we can do as neighbors and fellow citizens to contribute to the sustainability and success of the societies we live in, and surely our most fundamental and enduring service will be to teach and live by the truths inherent in God's great plan of redemption." Take some time to look at your circle of influence. Sit down with a piece of paper and draw a small circle in the middle with your name in it. Then draw larger circles surrounding it to show who you affect in your life. Some ideas include circles for your family, your neighborhood, your group of friends, your ward, your workplace, your community, etc. Brainstorm ideas for you to help make each specific circle more sustainable. Can you stop picking fights with your sister? Serve someone in your ward? Be a voice of power and persuasion in your community through your unique skill set? After brainstorming, choose at least one action and do it this week, then come back and share what you've done with us!
AFFIRMATION: I am a power for good and defender of unity in my circles of influence. I am a voice for truth and righteousness, and I am building Zion right where I am.