While reading the Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the length of time the Lamanites could carry a grudge. Four hundred and thirty years after Lehi brought his family to the Promised Land, they were still angry over perceived injustices that occurred during their travels.
In Mosiah 10 we learn the Lamanites believed they were forced to leave Jerusalem due to the evil doings of Lehi, wronged in the wilderness, and wronged again while crossing the sea --all because of the iniquity of Nephi, who also unjustly stole the record of their people when he fled into the wilderness (to preserve his life). From generation to generation they taught their children to hate the Nephites. And so hate was spread from parent to child year after year, decade after decade, resulting in death and sorrow for many people.
My first thought was, "Wow! I am pretty sure I have no idea who offended any of my ancestors over 400 years ago. " I was amazed a legacy of hate could have been preserved for so many generations. But then of course, I was reminded of the problems in the middle east today as well as in other parts of the world and realized I was being a bit naive.
But what I also realized was the impact our teachings can have on our children for generations. We can teach them to hate and distrust, or we can teach love, faith and compassion. We can teach selfishness or we can teach service and charity.
My parents are great examples of teaching good qualities. My father is the most obedient and hard working person I know, and he has diligently tried to instill those qualities in his children. I remember well one Saturday morning when I was twelve and it was our stake's turn to pick cherries at the stake welfare farm. Sleeping late sounded so much better to me than getting up at 5:30 to work in an orchard. So when my father came to get me, I told him I couldn't find my shoes and therefore could not go. He suggested I wear another pair. So I told him directly, I did not want to go.
I will always remember his very unsympathetic response. He said, "Sometimes in life we have to do things we don't want to do, but we do them anyway because it is the right thing to do." That seems like such a simple and basic comment, but it and his example, have stayed with me and been the impetus behind my completing some very unsavory tasks.
I also appreciate the example of selfless service set by my mother. She has a very tender and kind heart and often reaches out to the poor and needy. While visiting my parents in Guatemala a few years ago, we were leaving to go on a sight seeing journey when I noticed my mother filling her purse with food and coins. And then as we traveled across town, she would give the food and money to the little beggar children holding out their hands at the stop lights.
So my thought these past few weeks is this, "What kind of legacy am I leaving my children?" Is it one of anger, hostility and selfishness? Or is it love, kindness and service? Am I teaching them to hold a grudge against those who might offend them, or does my example teach forgiveness?
I am sorry to say, I realized I need to do a lot better. But, that is one reason why I love the Book of Mormon . . . it helps me to see where I need to improve and improvement always brings . . . joy to my journey.