Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Whither Shall I Go to Obtain Food?"--Dealing with Social Upheaval

Social upheaval is on my mind. When there is upheaval such as rioting in the streets, sooner or later we will be faced with the question Nephi had to ask during his family's trek across the Arabian desert: "Whither shall I go to obtain food?" (1 Nephi 16:23). It's a question that we may need to ask in the near future. The best time to ask it is before we face hunger, before a truckers strike, before riots break out, before the power grid goes down and shuts down commerce, or before a disaster wipes out parts of the supply chain for food and water. The best time to ask it is now when the answer is very easy and relatively non-miraculous: Wal-Mart or some other retailer with affordable prices. Build your supplies of food, water, and clothing gradually but fervently now before prices erupt much higher and before essentials simply become unavailable.

I hope I'm wasting all of your time and money with this advice. If you are lucky, taking my advice will be a waste of your money because you'll never need it. But luck tends to favor the prepared. Prepare.

We've seen riots break out in many nations when people are hurting economically. Ultimately, concern over the basics such as food can result in social upheaval or even mob behavior. Upheaval in the form of uprooting corrupt governments may be healthy if it's led by people with the wisdom to put something better in place of the old regime, but many of our revolutions in the past century have resulted in more hunger and sometimes mass starvation.

There are powder kegs all over the world that can be ignited, resulted in sudden changes in society. Whether for good or for evil, such transitions often involve disruption in the food chain. Shipments stop, stores are looted or simply become sold out in a hurry, water supplies may be shut down, farm lands and energy sources may be destroyed. People will go hungry--even in lands spared from the horrors of earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. Man-made disasters can strike anywhere.

If people start going hungry here or anywhere else, things can get ugly. Kudos to Japan, though, for showing a mindset of cooperation, self-sacrifice, and civil order even in the worst of times.

"Whither shall I go to obtain food?" Inquiring minds want to know--when it's a bit too late. Now is the time to be asking.


Rob said...

I've loved your blog and have followed off and on for years, although I don't think I've ever commented before today. I wanted to broach the subject of self-defense as a preparation closely related to storing food against hard times. You are concerned about social upheaval, rioting in the streets, mob behavior, and looting as something that could visit our neighborhoods someday. That's fine, but as we're thinking about wise ways to prepare against this adversity, are we not wise to also consider the need for defense at the same time?

We tend to be a peaceful people. Half the folks reading my comment just thought about the formerly-warlike Anti-Nephi-Lehies and their covenant with God to never again shed blood.

"...they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth. ...rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives;"

It's a great story that results in the attackers being humbled and turning to God. More people turned to God in that day, than were hewn down by the Lamanites.

And if that's your path, then so be it. But it is good to be mindful of two things before you chose this path.

1- "...the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword. And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them."

In the scenario above, with all the social upheaval, rioting in the streets, mob behavior, and looting going on, do you anticipate your pacifism will actually be a productive missionary moment? Or is it more likely you'll have your stuff taken and your women raped? Choose wisely.

2- The folks who sucessfully carried off this covenant of peace deal, lived to see their sons (the stripling warriors) take up arms out of necessity and go fight and kill people in order to preserve freedom on their behalf. Again, if you're ok with making a similar covenant of peace, then go for it. We have a record of it working a miracle. But the record does not show pacifism to be sustainable. There will always need to be strength used to preserve life and liberty.

Again, choose wisely.

Anonymous said...

O,k. Looks like we're jumping the shark.

First, the societal collapse stuff is kind of bizarre. Assume a major quake were to hit Utah. Would/society collapse? No. The first few days would be rough but after that society would reassert itself.

Second, food storage and 72 hour kits are primarily to deal with naturals disasters and the far more common perfsonal economic disaster.

Third, the idea of fortifying a bunker to repel the neighbors is repugnant on several levels.

This strain of end-the-world thought is really disturbing. And, by engaging in it we create fear and uncertainty with the younger generation.

That is unacceptable.

--- Steve

Rob said...

Hey Steve, quick note. Society doesn't have to collapse in order for folks to experience some short-term social upheaval, rioting in the streets, mob behavior, or looting.

The only person talking about fortifying a bunker, the world ending, or repelling neighbors is you.

Yeah, the primary goal of food storage being a preparation against natural disaster. Were you paying attention to the social upheaval, rioting, mob behavior, and looting during Hurricane Katrina? Or the stories out of Haiti after their disaster? I wish we could all have the elements of calm and communal effort that Japan enjoys, but we don't.


"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion.

"The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given us counsel, through His servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have we heeded His counsel?" (Ezra Taft Benson, "Prepare for the Days of Tribulation," Ensign, Nov. 1980).

Anonymous said...


You were advocating training to repulse your neighbors from taking your stuff. I didn't misrepresent what you said at all.

As to the Benson quote, I think he had a fixation on three things: conspiracies, communism and the apocalypse. Of note, since his time, that talk has virtually vanished. Since neither President Hinckley or President Monson has used similar language, I think it is fair to see that such is not a contemporary concern.

I still stand by my initial point: An excessive fixation on the end-of-the-world undermines our hope for the future, in particular that of our children.

-- Steve

Anonymous said...

Agreed, we should not live as if the world is going to end tomorrow. The paradox is that one day the apocalypse will occur, and if we're not ready for it we'll be toast.

Rob said...

"You were advocating training to repulse your neighbors from taking your stuff. I didn't misrepresent what you said at all."

Well, I suppose it depends on how you define neighbor. If the definition includes the folks who intend to do you harm, then yeah, I guess I am advocating defending yourself against your neighbors who intend to do you harm.

"Repel" "fortify" and "bunker", however are only found in your post. Words meant to bring up all sorts of melodramatic images that I didn't really have in mind with my post. It's almost like you can't interact with what I'm actually saying, so you invent something more easily diffusable.

And again, I went out of my way to bring attention to the great miracles brought forth by the folks who choose a peaceful nonviolent approach in the BoM. If you pick that route, go for it. It really is fine with me. But do you really have to totally dismiss anyone who gives a second thought to defending against evil? Are you so sure I'm a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy-believing commie-fearing nutjob?

Maybe I just don't want to fall prey to random short-term nonsense after a big tornado hits my town.

"An excessive fixation on the end-of-the-world undermines our hope for the future, in particular that of our children."

Fine /w me. Next time I see someone with such an excessive fixation, I'll pass your words along. Because again (and this is the 2nd time I've pointed this out), the only person talking about the end of the world in this thread is you.

Rob said...

One more note - you go to great lengths to dismiss the words of an apostle of the Lord, appearing in the Ensign magazine. It's not like anyone has removed his talk - it's still right here:


Anonymous said...

Rob --

We'll have to disagree. I don't disagree with disaster preparation. I do have a problem with societal collapse stuff.

As to the Benson quote, if you are relying on the fact that something is on lds.org for validity, I can show you similar quotes which claim the civil rights movement is a communist front, endorse an anti-Jewish bankers book, etc.

None are supported by contemporary officials because they are simply not applicable (or endorsed) today.

The key -- as President Benson himself noted -- is to follow the current prophet, not past ones. By that standard, I think the primary issue is helping our neighbor not defending against them.


Jeff Lindsay said...

Sorry for the trouble, OpenMinded. I might need to turn off Google's spam filter - has caught too many civil comments. Thanks for sharing your views and for your patience!

Anonymous said...

Educate yourself on how people actually react after a natural disaster or similar upheaval. There are several stories coming forward after the quakes, and here's a good starting point. We don't become animals (the post Katrina nightmare stories have been debunked). We don't hide weapons under pillows. That's silly, and it's not natural. We didn't survive as a species by murdering each other at the first sign of trouble. This thinking is toxic, and it leads well-meaning people into fearing their fellow man.
A story to illustrate: I was helping an LDS man in Florida move. Among his possessions were boxes of ammunition. I asked why he had them, and his shocking reply: "so I can shoot people like you who try to get my family's food during the apocalypse."
I've been around long enough to know this chap is the exception to the rule. Most Mormons aren't afraid of society collapsing and racial upheaval (another of my "friend's" theories). Those of you that do think this way really, really need to assess your way of thinking. Is it Christian? Did Christ invite us to greet the future with fear, and worse, with firepower?
Ezra Taft Benson may have taught these things, but Jesus Christ never did.