Monday, April 26, 2010

A Disintegration of Zion

Most of the youth in my class attend Murrieta Valley High School.  One is home-schooled and one attends a private school in the neighboring city of Temecula.  For most of them, Murrieta Valley High is their little world.  In preparation for discussion for 4 Nephi, I decided to ask them about the different "groups/cliques" at the school.  As they named the groups, I wrote them on the board and asked for some detail on them.  Some were distinguished by ethnicity and I wanted to be clear that there was no offense meant nor taken in us identifying them by their race.  They assured me that this is just what they're called and known as, and they even call themselves by these names.
Some are separated by interests/clubs:
 - Drama kids
 - Athletes, "jocks", also separated by sport (track, football, basketball, tennis, etc.)
 - Choir kids
 - ASB
 - Band kids
 - Mormons
 - Skaters
 - Hacky Sackers
 - (Surfers are never in school, which I thought was funny...)
 - Geeks (those who enjoy computers)
 - Freshmen
 - Classroom sitters
 - and many more........

Some are separated by their appearance/culture:
 - Mexicans
 - Asians
 - African Americans
 - (no White groups, I noticed...)
 - Emo's

Then you have a few groups which I will not mention by name, but let's just call them "standards offenders" (moral and Word of Wisdom). The groups listed above are just some of the ones mentioned today.  My class told me that each group has a small section of the school designated as their "area/territory/home-base".  It's a "safe" location each group can count on finding their clique. I wanted to know how these groups interacted with one another.  How do they get along or don't get along?  I asked if any of the groups "bully" other groups.  They pointed out a few, but generally, the groups leave each other alone.  I asked if any of the groups are found to be "victims of bullying".  Again, they named a few.  (A little contradiction, there.)

I wanted to know what they thought could be done to unify these groups.  One student who is involved with ASB mentioned that this is the goal of ASB; they work to dissolve the social (and sometimes physical) barriers to unify the school.  I asked them to imagine what it would be like to have a school without social barriers.  I also wanted to know from them what could be done to change the current environment at their school.  They said that first of all, it would be "weird".  They are comfortable with the way things are.  They like that they can go to a location at the school and find people with similar interests. (I agree on that.)  But there are hundreds of students they don't know and probably never will while they attend this school because of this.  Each group has an opinion of "who is better than who"; class distinction.   They agreed that in order for the barriers to come down, everyone would need to WANT to cooperate.  It would require effort from EVERYONE, and EVERYONE would need to see the NEED FOR IT. 

In 4th Nephi, Mormon condenses roughly 287 years of history into one book which spans 4 pages.  That averages out to about 72 years per page.  And the 287 years is just over 1/3 of the length of time that the Book of Mormon covers.  He's making clear what he wants us to see, which is the disintegration of a Zion society based on the Gospel of Christ, to a society of hate and deceit under the power of Satan.  From verses 1-18, Mormon describes what a Zion society is; there was approx. 200 of peace.  The rest of the book of 4 Nephi, shown in the remaining 31 verses, is a series of steps taken by the people which led them away from the Church, the Spirit, and from Christ and His gospel; a disintegration of Zion.  Everyone once considered themselves as "children of Christ."  Over time, they developed into a group of "-ites"; Lamanites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, and Nephites.   Somewhere along the line, someone chose to put "self" before "others". Class distinction. Pride. Rebellion from God.

I challenged my class to have the attitude of living a "higher law" at school.   I wanted them to simply be aware of the cliques at school and to be someone who could move outside their own comfort zone; open their eyes to the possibility of getting to know others regardless of which "group" they belonged to.  We are"children of Christ."  We represent Him and even if we can't create a Zion on our own, we can have the attitude of a Zion people and open ourselves to welcoming all as Christ would. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:  "Family members bear the family name; by it they are known and called and identified; it sets them apart from all those of a different lineage and ancestry...and so it is that the children of Christ, those who are born again, those who are spiritually begotten by their new Father, take upon themselves the name of Christ. By it they are identifies them and sets them apart from all others. They are now family members, Christians in the real and true sense of the word. They do carry his name and are obligated to bear it in decency and dignity. No taint of shame or disgrace, no sliver of dishonor must ever be permitted to attach itself to that name...the saints of God must remember who they are and act accordingly. "The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ" (1978), p 363.

Being "children of Christ" is a separation of ourselves from the world of some sort. But it's an ALL-INCLUSIVE group! All are welcome.

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