I just finished my short talk I am giving for our ward pancake breakfast tomorrow, and decided I would share it here too:
From before, when the foundations of the earth were laid, our Father in Heaven, looked forward, and foresaw the day when religious and governmental tyranny and darkness would grip this world.
When the first century Church of Christ left the earth, she took with her certain underpinnings of civilization, which left humanity groping for truth, freedom, opportunity, free agency, and fairness.
During what is commonly called the Dark Ages, not only was the gospel absent from the earth, governments reigned with blood and horror. People, families, tribes, and nations were looked upon by governments, as chattel to be enslaved, and disposed of as would benefit the pretended sovereigns.
A light began to break out in that age of darkness, heroic souls chosen by God, struggled to reform the false religion of their day, and to re-insert the underpinnings of equitable government. This struggle was long and hard. The blood of good and innocent people covered the lands of Europe.
This bloody struggle called the Reformation, eventually created a small and rare opportunity for real and lasting change.
Those seeking religious freedom fled to the New World.
Those seeking political freedom came to the New World.
Many came seeking riches and prosperity.
And, some came in chains.
Some came in obedience to dreams and visions, believing they were part of some great work that was taking place in this New World.
To simplify a more complicated history, the New World began to thrive.
As the principals of righteousness were progressively instituted in the new land, it became a shinning beacon of hope to the rest of the world.
From the nations of the world came the good, in wave after wave. Yes, we get the cream of the cream.
But this was not by chance; it was instituted from the pre-existence. When God showed Abraham the righteous spirits, God said that from among these He would make his rulers, or priesthood holders. And God promised that from Abraham’s prosperity all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
As Latter-Day Saints we know that the gathering of the cream of the cream, was in fact part of the plan, the great vision, for the call of Israel to gather for the last time.
As we gathered into the New World, the tentacles of the Old World refused to let us go, but attempted to institute those old way, here in our new land.
But, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them…” a separation or independence becomes necessary.
For a separation to have the meaning sought by the pilgrims, it had to be built upon righteous principles.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is these principals that eventually brought freedom to all people in America, even those brought here in chains.
The idea that God granted certain unalienable rights to each and every individual is central to good government, and the plan of salvation. In LDS parlance we call this “Agency.”
And, I quote: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
In July of 1776 a new government was formed, the United States of America.
She has been an island freedom in the world from that day until now. Good men have sacrificed to make our nation live up-to our first national creed.
This creed, the Declaration of Independence created the framework that allowed the restoration of the gospel.
As Latter-day saints we know this land is a promised land, and has become a land of inheritance for you and me.
With freedom, and blessings come responsibilities.
The Pilgrims fled the old world for the blessings of America.
Immigrants came from around the world for its blessings.
And, Mormon Pioneers came west to realize America’s blessings.
But as Elder James E. Faust said:
“So now we find ourselves in a situation where, unlike the Pilgrims, the Mormon pioneers, and others, we have no where to go in order to escape a new civil de facto secular state religion that continually limits public religious expression and fosters secular values and expressions. How do we preserve the essence of our humanity?” (Finding Light In A Dark World, Elder James E. Faust, Deseret Book, pg 67.)
America is the last stand of freedom, there is nowhere left to go. We must stand here with the heroes of the past, and help America realize her full potential, as the land of freedom.
So today, enjoy the pancakes, the BBQ’s, and the fireworks, but keep a place in your heart for the vision, which is America.