This is a story about war. War is a very small word. But it is full to the brink with human suffering: cuts, bruises, tears, fears, sadness, broken bones, and death. All that is needed for a war to happen is people who are willing and ready to fight.
And that is something that is both good and bad about the Lamanites and the Nephites. They were always fighting for what they believed. This is a story about two different people who took two different approaches to war. Both were good. And both ultimately failed. Because what is good is not always what works.
The first man’s name is Moroni. Moroni was a young man. And like a lot of young men, he had hot blood.
Hot Blood, a definition.
To have hot blood is to be brave and courageous and bold and confident. It can be very good to be hot blooded, because hot blooded people aren’t afraid to protect things they feel are important and good. At the drop of a hat, they will risk their lives to help, to protect, and to save other people. If you have hot blood, you are like a pot of water about to boil.
Mornoi was like that pot of water. And the thing that set him boiling was a man named Amalickiah. Amalickiah was a Nephite, but he didn’t believe in God. And he didn’t like going to church. And he didn’t like the government. He thought the leaders were bad and that he could do a better job himself. And so he said, “Amalickiah, you would be a very good king.” And then started to tell everyone else that the church was bad and the government was bad and that he should be their king instead.
This made Moroni boil. He was so upset that he wanted to write down all of his emotions and so he looked for something to write on. He looked up and sideways and then down. And there was his shirt, and there were his hands. With one strong motion, he ripped his shirt in half, wrote on it like a piece of paper, and hung it on a stick like a flag. He called it the Title of Liberty. And do you know what he wrote? He wrote reasons to go to war—reasons like protecting your family, your religion, your freedom.
His reasons were good reasons. He was scared that if people listened to Amalickiah, they would leave the church. And if they left the church, they would do bad things. And if they did bad things, they would lose their freedom to vote and to worship.
“You see,” Moroni told everyone. “Freedom is not free. It is like an apple. You can keep it cold and fresh in a refrigerator. But if you leave it out, it will begin to rot. And soon, you cannot even eat it because it is brown and sticky and gross. And the refrigerator is God. If we forget God, our freedoms will melt away like a popsicle in the sun.”
A lot of people agreed with Moroni. And so they decided they would not allow Amalickiah to live with them. Because he had dangerous ideas. And was trying to convince everyone to take their apples out of the refrigerator. And so the Nephites chased him away.
It is hard to know if Moroni was right about chasing Amalickiah out. By chasing him out, instead of making a friend, he made an enemy. But Moroni was certainly right about one thing. Amalickiah was dangerous. Because even though he had been chased out by the Nephites, that did not stop him. Instead, he ran to the Lamanites, and tried to convince them to go and fight Moroni and the Nephites.
And now we meet the second character who took a very different approach than Moroni. His name was Lehonti. He was a captain of the Lamanite army. When Amalickiah came to the Lamanites and tried to start a war with the Nephites, Lehonti refused. He said, “Do you remember what happened last time we fought? There was so much pain and anger and death. We are not going to fight again. We are going to be a peaceful and loving people from now on.”
And Lehonti’s reasons for not fighting were good reasons. But Amalickiah called Lehonti a coward. “You have cold blood,” he said.
Cold blood, a definition:
Cold blood is peaceful, calm, and stable. It can be very good to have cold blood, because people with cold blood are good at stopping fights and giving hugs and listening to others. It can be very frustrating to be mad at someone with cold blood because it’s like trying to boil a pot full of ice.
And because Lehonti had cold blood, he did not get angry with Amalckiah for calling him names. He just shrugged and said, “I am going to be like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. We are going up into a hill where we will not fight. Come with me friends.” And while some of the army stayed with Amalckiah, a lot of the army went with Lehonti. And they climbed a hill covered in trees. And I wonder if it was the very hill where the Anti-Nephi-Lehies buried their weapons. And Lehonti said again, “We are not going to fight. There are better ways to work things out than fighting.”
All of Lehonti’s soldiers cheered and began to chant, “Love not war! Love not war! Love not war!”
Amalickiah pretended to listen. Then he said, “Okay, let’s talk.” Lehonti did not believe him. And so Amalickiah said it again, “Okay, let’s do it your way.” Still Lehonti did not believe him. Amalickiah tried one more time and said, “Lehonti, you are right. We will get more done if we talk instead of fight.” And so Lehonti agreed to meet up and talk it out.
They talked together. And Amalickiah said that he would have his whole army surrender to Lehonti’s army. Then no one would need to fight. This made Lehonti very happy. He smiled and said, “Thank you for listening. Now we will be safe and happy. And I will make you second in command and you will be an example of someone who is humble and willing to listen.” And Lehonti kissed Amalickiah on his cheek. “You are a good man,” he said.
But Lehonti was wrong. Because Amalickiah was just trying to trick him. Once Amalickiah was second in command, he killed Lehonti and took the army, and eventually made himself the king of the Lamanties. And now that he was king of the Lamanites, he wanted to be king of the Nephites too. And so he took his armies and set out to kill the Nephites. And there was one hot-blooded Nephite that Amalickiah disliked more than all the rest. His name was Moroni.
And so, even though Lehonti was trying to be good and protect his family and his people, and Moroni was trying to be good and protect his family and his people, pain and death and evil came to both of them. And that probably seems unfair, because sometimes what is right and good does not seem to work out. And sometimes what is right and good is not one thing. Sometimes there are multiple ways to be right, and there are just as many ways to be wrong. And so the world is not split neatly into right choices and wrong choices.
And while it is true that suffering happens to good people and bad people, it is also true that God loves you. And He loves good people and He loves bad people. Because everyone is good and bad and the uncomfortable combination of the two.
Moroni and Lenonti were good men who suffered. They suffered war. And war is a very small word. But it is so full of sorrow and suffering. I pray that war will never come to you. But it might. And if not war, there will be pain and suffering and evil and eventually death. And when you curl into yourselves and cry because you are so full of suffering, even though you are trying to do what is right, just remember that God is also a small word with an even bigger meaning. And He is there in the dark with you, and He is crying too. Because God is both hot and cold blooded. He is full to the brink with peace and passion. And His warm heart bleeds for you, and for me, for Moroni, and for Lehonti. And He bleeds for us, and He weeps, and He loves. And He weeps because He loves. And He loves you because he knows you. He experiences your suffering. He feels your pain. And he knows you are trying so hard to be good.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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