Friday, January 27, 2017

An Interesting Anecdote from Brigham Young on Indian Hostilities

Here’s a little gem of a story from Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses 1:162:

I recollect when we were down at Father Allred’s settlement last April, they had previously been to me not only to know if they might settle in San Pete, but if they might separate widely from each other, over a piece of land about two miles square, each having a five acre lot for their garden near their farms. They were told to build a good substantial fort, until the settlement became sufficiently strong, and not live so far apart, and expose themselves and their property to danger. Father Allred told me they were then so nigh together, they did not know how to live! I told him they had better make up their minds to be baptized into the Church again, and get the Spirit of God, that each one might be able to live at peace with his neighbor in close quarters, and not think himself infringed upon. They wanted to know if they were to build a fort. “Why, yes,” I said, “build a strong fort, and a corral, to put your cattle in, that the Indians cannot get them away from you.” “Do you think, Brother Brigham, the Indians will trouble us here?” they inquired. I said, “It is none of your business whether they will or not, but you will see the time that you need such preparations.” But I did not think it would come so quickly.

I think this selection has several great lessons.

1)   Having the Spirit helps us live close together with other people and not feel infringed upon. (Some of my best memories of close living as a single included dorm and apartment living with other strong Latter-day Saints women.)
2)   Preparations the prophet advises are for our protection, even if there is doubt they will be needed. Definitely building a fort would have taken extra work for the San Pete Saints in Brigham Young’s day, but it would have kept them secure… and possibly taught them a little more about close living.  It takes faith to follow prophetic instructions to prepare in a certain way.  In Brigham Young’s day, forts were one protection advised the people. What protections are we advised to make today?
3)   I think it is interesting that Brigham Young says it is none of the Saints business whether the Indians would trouble them or not. Perhaps he said it a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the underlying principle is to pay more attention to carrying out one’s duty and making the required preparations rather than wasting energy on worrying or speculating over the level of probability of disaster or attack.  It’s all about putting your focus on what you can control.