Where did they go? The ancient Pueblo, the Hopewell and Fremont Indians, the Aztecs, Maya, Olmecs. They all certainly left their mark on the earth with ancient ruined cities, great earthworks, pots, plates and myriad other artifacts. We know where they lived, maybe a little about how they lived. But what happened to them? Where did they go? Or even more importantly, why did they go?
There are several opinions about what happened to the Maya culture. The bulk of evidence points to climate change and warfare that caused famines and droughts, forcing the people to abandon the cities and find a new home. There are even some living remnants of the culture, but can they even point to why they left their cities?
The people who built the Cahokia mounds and lived in the area that became Illinois, had built one of the largest urban centers in North America circa 600 AD. They too abandoned their city, leaving only perhaps because of disease and famine.
There were other peoples decimated by war and disease after the European arrival and invasion. Their disappearance is not such a mystery. No matter your opinion on the treatment of the native people by the European we can probably agree that the native population was radically reduced, forced to abandon their homes and lands and treated badly by those who pursued land and resources.
What is Behind the Fall of American Civilizations?
I was recently reading in a book titled The Grand Design: America from Columbus to Zion written by E. Douglas Clarke and came upon a passage that illustrates the reason so many peoples have disappeared from the face of the American continent. In Asia, the middle east and even Europe “there were nations that were old when Nephi left Jerusalem and whose cultures, languages, customs, manners and traditions still survive. …It is not so in the New World, where great civilizations vanish without even leaving us their names, and where no high civilization has survived.”
When Lehi and his household fled from Jerusalem shortly before its fall in 587 BC Lehi was told that he would be led to a land of promise. Nephi first makes mention of this in the second chapter of the book of 1 Nephi:
“And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.” (1Nephi 2:20)
The promise from God to Nephi is that he and his posterity will prosper in their new land of promise as long as they are obedient to the word of God. If they were not obedient and turned away from God and His word they would be swept off the face of the land. Lehi told his children the words of the Lord:
“Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2Nephi 1:20)
And it was not only Lehi’s household who was given this promise. When Jared and his brother led their family and friends from the tower of Babel to a “land of promise,” the Lord added this warning:
“…whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.” (Ether 2:8)
A Warning Meant for Us and America
The prophet Moroni, who abridged the record of the brother of Jared’s people, gave further warning. this warning is directed to us. To anyone who may read the Book of Mormon and anyone who resides upon the promised land, the choice soil of America. This is what he says:
“And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God — that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done. Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” (Ether 2:11-12)
I didn’t start this post with the idea of calling anyone to repentance, or saying that our country is in a bad state. I don’t really want to. I don’t like to be political. It’s too easy for me to see both sides of an issue, making it difficult to argue for either one. But I can say one thing: the widespread acceptance, as normal and mainstream, of words and behaviors that at one time were considered deplorable, immoral and unacceptable is, to say the least, disturbing. Viewing the world from the perspective of these scriptural passages sheds a damning light on the present situation of our great country.
Division along cultural, ethnic, political, and even gender lines has been popular of late. Emotions tied to important issues have led to hostility, bickering and even physical violence resulting in injury and death. This is not what God wants. This is the work of the devil, the adversary. We need to turn our backs on the divisiveness. The intolerance. The hate. We need to turn to God and allow Him to influence our interactions so they are filled with love, compassion and selflessness. Only then will we be able to save our country and come together in unity and love.