I had planned to add to the “Not Automatic” post I last put up, but something more important needs to be addressed. The idea that a group of people can one day gather together in peace, and gain such favor with the Lord that He will bring back Zion, has distracted us from our responsibilities. Zion is a result. Results are distracting, and not really possible. Instead of expecting a result, we need to participate in the process.

I’ve written and I’ve spoken about lofty, even holy things. But that seems futile while we insist on making monsters of one another.

If someone offends me, it is my responsibility to confront the offender and let them know exactly what they did to offend. I owe it to them. If I have not confronted him and set out clearly his offense then I have done him a disservice and have failed in my duty. “And if your brother offend you, you shall take him between him and you alone, and if he confess, you shall be reconciled.” T&C 27:5.

When offended I need to explain to the offender what they did, why it offended, and explain that the injury or offense has harmed me. If he does something offensive and I fail to directly call him out on it, in time he will become a monster as the misconduct continues and inevitably escalates. If that process is to be interrupted and reversed, it requires me to bring it directly and personally to his attention.

When, instead of confronting the offender, I go about complaining to others, then those others are brought into the sad cycle of gossip and character assassination. This is why the first indispensable step is for me to “take him between him and [me] alone” to address the matter. Then, “if he confesses, [we] shall be reconciled.” This is not optional. This is mandatory. And if followed will reconcile the offender with the offended.

When we fail to address the offense directly with the offender, we let the offender grow worse. When we tolerate it for years it grows into monstrous behavior.

Talking about other people’s offenses without confronting them directly makes us monsters also. We accuse, condemn, belittle and spread alarm between others and reap the corrosive reward. We degenerate into a community of angry, divided, quarrelsome, bickering, jarring, contentious, and strife-driven people who cannot live in peace because we inevitably pollute any inheritance the Lord would give us. This process went unchecked in the Jaredite and Nephite people described in the Book of Mormon. Over time it turned into violence, destruction and annihilation.

There are many critics looking on our embryonic group that are entertained by our conflicts. We have to pass through this stage before we can mature into something more fitted to peaceful coexistence. They criticize us while they are not attempting that necessary step. If they ever make an attempt, they will encounter exactly the same challenges we face in the development into equality. Other religious communities submit to control by their hierarchy. They depend on supervision, and cannot attain equality. They conceal their conflicts. We need to expose ours and address them in a godly way that improves the offender and matures the offended.

We are far ahead in development by addressing our weaknesses. Even if we do it openly, awkwardly and improperly, it is a monumental step to face our weaknesses. No community will ever live in peace with one another if they hide their failures, substitute flattery for candor, and leave iniquity unexposed to the daylight. But the failures should not become fuel for gossip. They should be brought directly to the attention of the offender. The iniquity should not be advertised behind the offender’s back, but should be laid before the offender to be addressed.

Those who gossip injure far more people by their cowardly failure to follow the mandate that, “if your brother offend you, you shall take him between him and you alone, and if he confess, you shall be reconciled.” It is almost impossible for one man to offend dozens directly. It is almost inevitable for one gossip to offend dozens directly.

I have no doubt offended others. I’d like to hear directly from them.