On the steppe, when one tribe got big and genocidal and attacked the tribe next to it that tribe fought for a while and then fled, usually by launching a genocidal attack on the next tribe further on.  You got these domino effects.

(The Mfecane I mentioned yesterday worked like that also).


But the Nephites at the end stopped fleeing the Lamanites. Why?


Maybe they were completely surrounded by the Lamanites in great depth.  But that is not the picture we get from anywhere in the Book of Mormon, nor from the ending period.

Maybe they realize that in fleeing they would have to leave behind many of their people to die, especially the women and children.  But if they were all that wicked, why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they act on the wicked principle of each man for himself and devil take the hindmost?  King Noah and his wicked priests did.

That is one question – why didn’t the Nephites flee?  It actually takes quite a bit of courage and cooperation and self-sacrificing spirit, in other words, virtue, to stay and fight to the death when you have a chance to run away.


Here is the second question. Why didn’t the Nephites desert?

We know the Lamanites were still willing to take deserters, or in Nephite parlance, dissenters.  Mormon writes in chapter 6 of his book that a few went over to the Lamanites and were accepted before the final battle. But only a few.


Why wouldn’t wicked people each be trying to cut the best deal for themselves that they could?

Here is my pet theory.  I think the late stage Nephites were wicked in a peculiar way.  I think they had principles that they were committed to.  They still had a real Nephite religious identity in some sense–we should imagine them arguing about who is more Christlike as they commit depravities, or whether Adam had a belly button.  But we should also imagine there was some good left on their identity. I think there were vile Lamanite practices that they utterly rejected.  So going over to the Lamanites would be anathema.


Maybe those principles would also keep them from abandoning their own or smashing into and trying to commit genocide on innocent distant foreigners who might happen to be in the way of their flight.

Read Mormon’s lament for them. “O ye fair ones…” It’s heartfelt, there were definitely still things to love about them.

But at the same time some of their principles were a commitment to wickedness. They had made some kinds of sin a matter of honor. Think of a modern woman who runs a charity and is so sacrificing and trying to do good in that way . She would never, ever, ever murder someone no matter the temptation.  She is also a fanatic for abortion.  I think that is what the late stage Nephites were.  Their principles had ceased to be part of a living system, they were just acts of will, their principles lacked integrity in the technical sense, the Nephites had already died on the inside before they died in battle.

The post Late Nephite Principles first appeared on Junior Ganymede.

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