|Artwork by Joseph F. Brickey, words by Colby Alexander|
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Jason Bourne? No? Well, I have. What would it be like to be on one of his against all odds, world saving important missions, and be completely unfazed by eminent danger? To hobble wounded through the streets, and face the constant threat of death at every turn? To fight off rival assassins with a ballpoint pen, and a toaster? I’ve wondered what I would act like if I were in that same scenario. Would I rise to the occasion, keep my whits about me, bear down, and miraculously get the job done? Or, would I pee my pants, grab my blanky, and hide in the nearest corner and suck my thumb? Would I actually be a man, stand up, and try and fight for what I believed in? Hopefully.
The thing is, Jason Bourne, however awesome, is unfortunately a made up fictional character. He really didn’t beat up the entire French interpol office with a pencil and a rolled up magazine. He didn’t actually escape in an amazing car chase while driving backwards in a mini cooper all through the alleyways and streets of Paris. That didn’t really happen. (Although it was totally awesome)
Does that mean that in real life, something equally as awesome cant’t happen?
There are tons of heroic and amazing Jason Bourne type stories that are actually true. As in, they actually happened. We have plenty of manly men to look to that show us how to be brave, courageous, loving, strong, and honorable in times that seem bleak and hopeless.
Here’s an example….
These guys were heroes, and they were the way they were in large part because of their mothers, who had taught them and helped them to become Men. Their mothers get HUGE props for that.
But, have you ever wondered about the fathers of these 2000 warriors? Where were they? They aren’t mentioned in those chapters. If their mothers were completely amazing, did their fathers teach them as well?
I think we may have to go backwards to find out…
The Book of Mormon puts chapter 53 of Alma in about the year 63 or 64 B.C. This is the year that Helaman takes the 2000 boys, and arms them for battle. They are described as young. Just for fun, lets assume they were about 17 or 18, maybe a bit older.
Now, lets hit the rewind button on our ancient Jason Bourne movie. Lets rewind to Chapter 24 of Alma. The heading puts this chapter somewhere between 90-77 B.C. That means, we now went back in time anywhere from 13 years prior to about 26 or 27 years.
So, what was happening at that time? This was the year that the righteous Lamanites buried their weapons and promised and made their famous covenant they would never fight again. They became the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. These fully converted Lamanite men and women, were those who in those next few years, would teach the future stripling warriors.
In Verse 19 it says, “And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”
These faithful Lamanites would eventually be those who would instill commitment, honor, and faith on those stripling warriors. They taught this in the most meaningful, and permanent way- by example.
At that time, the future stripling warriors may have been just born, or maybe were quite young. But, their mothers would have been there. And, Im willing to bet, that the ones that were among the most vocal in this covenant with the Lord were those boys fathers.
What an example to their young boys they must have been. They had been converted, fully. They showed their sons how to act, how to take action to show faith, and be a man, how to be brave, honorable, and ultimately, how to trust in God. Maybe, the only memories these future warriors had of their actual fathers, were those humbling and honorable moments of their ultimate sacrifice.
Those men, went out to meet their attackers, knowing they would die. They put honor and commitment first, they led by example, showing perfect faith in their God. These were the examples set for those young boys who may have physically witnessed this sacrifice. Is it any wonder they were so strong and faithful themselves? They had either personally watched, or learned about this sacred event from their mothers. That was their heritage.
Today, there aren’t massive Lamanite armies a few miles away from our houses bound and determined to kill us simply because of our beliefs. We aren’t constantly living with threats to our lives because of merely who we are…..or are we?
Are we, as the men of today, living our lives with the same amount of commitment to our faith as those men of Anti-Nephi-Lehi? Increasingly our faith will be challenged. Every facet of our religion will come under scrutiny, and we will either have to stand up and defend it, or cower, and shy away. We show our strength, honor, and commitment by living and showing, not by saying and telling. Do we remain strong, honorable, and faithful in the face of evil and wickedness? Our posterity will learn from us whichever way we choose.
If we want our sons (and daughters) to be like those stripling warriors, then we need to act like their fathers (and mothers) did- and show them how to live, and even die for what we believe.
Elder Marion D Hanks explains the same thing in the April 1974 general conference….