Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zeniff’s war propaganda

See if you can pick out the war propaganda:

11 Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men.

12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this—Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;

13 And again, that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea, and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness.

14 And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord; they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord.

15 And again, they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands; and they sought to kill him.

16 And again, they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.

17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

18 For this very cause has king Laman, by his cunning, and lying craftiness, and his fair promises, deceived me, that I have brought this my people up into this land, that they may destroy them; yea, and we have suffered these many years in the land. (Mosiah 10:11-18)

Here Zeniff tells his people the history of the conflict between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He tells the Lamanite view of why the Nephites should be destroyed. He also tries to point out how the Lamanites do not share Nephite values of the Lord and trusting the Lord and how it has made them wild and ferocious. He tells about how the Lamanites have taught their children to hate and try to destroy the Nephites.

He ends up with blaming King Laman for cunning, fair promises to deceive and destroy. And he says, “and we have suffered these many years in the land” (v18). However, that complaint of suffering does not seem sincere, because earlier in the chapter, Zeniff writes, “thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years” (v5). You can’t have continual peace for twenty two years and then turn around and blame Lamanite enemies for causing you to suffer these many years in the land. Either Zeniff’s memory is bad or he is stretching the truth to pump up his propaganda, not realizing that he is falling into the same fault as the Lamanites’ traditions he decries. He claims the Lamanites have preserved and magnified their sense of being wronged, yet he is doing the same thing. Just as the Lamanites twisted the story of Nephi and Laman, Zeniff is twisting the story of the relationship between the Zeniffites and Lamanites over the past generation.

Why is he doing this? He feels he has to stimulate them to fight their hardest against the Lamanites. Yet compare Zeniff’s propaganda to Captain Moroni’s title of liberty and reminders to fight for their God, their religion, their freedom, their peace, their wives, and their children! Captain Moroni’s encouragement seems much cleaner than Zeniff’s.

What does this teach us today? I think it is showing us that it is better to say what you are fighting for, rather than to recite your wrongs.