Civic Duty is a Divine Commandment
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
David O. McKay:
“Let me assure you that someday you will have a personal priesthood interview with the Savior himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which he will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities….
“Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.”
The scriptures and modern prophets make it clear that doing our civic duty is a divine commandment. How can we keep this commandment? Here are 10 suggestions:
1. Keep informed about politics and current events.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free… it expects what never was and never will be.”
“There is nothing more frightening than an active ignorance.”
“[Church members] should understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious” (Journal of Discourses, 9:340).
2. Be an example of righteous living.
“Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give to them. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad. But if men be bad then government cannot be good.”
3. Be grateful, and express gratitude, for government.
Our friends and family members might get the wrong impression if we are constantly bad-mouthing “the government.” Here are some things that I am grateful for and have personally benefited from.
- Roads, highways, freeways: federal, state, and local (I-15)
- Public schools and colleges
- U.S. Postal System
- Wildlife management and protection of endangered species
- National, state, and local parks (Yellowstone, Zion, Yosemite)
- National and state campgrounds and beaches
- Pollution control: clean air and water
- Products from federal research grants
- NASA spin offs and space exploration (2,000 products, Velcro)
- Major infrastructure projects (Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, Interstate Highway)
- Water management (Aqueducts)
- Government funded medical research (Human Genome Project, Vaccines)
- Law enforcement and counter terrorism: federal, state, local (Border Patrol, FBI, CIA)
- Fire protection: federal, state, local (Paramedics)
- Airports and air safety and traffic control (LAX, SNA)
- Automobile Transportation safety (DUI Research, Seatbelts)
- Military and defense: national and state
- Veteran’s benefits
- Justice system: federal, state, and local courts
- Public Health immunizations and protections: national, state, local (Small Pox, Polio)
- National Monuments, Museum, Cemeteries (Arlington, Lincoln & Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial)
4. Instill in others a respect for the flag and a love of country.
5. Obey the law and encourage others to do so.
Twelfth Article of Faith:
“We believe in being subject to kings, president, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.“
“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns, whose right it is to reign.”
David O. McKay:
“No member of the Church can be true to his country, true to his Church, true to his God, who will violate the laws which relate to the moral welfare and spiritual advancement of mankind. Members of the Church should uphold the law everywhere. And it is time all of us-the leaders of this country, the politicians, the statesmen, the leaders in civic affairs in the state and in the cities, as well as parents and private citizens-should so speak of and so uphold the constitutional law of the land that everywhere there will be a renewal of respect for it and a revival of the virtues of honor, honesty, and integrity.” (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, p. 100)
6. Vote and encourage others to vote.
Spencer W. Kimball:
“I wish to urge you and your family members of voting age to go to the polls in large numbers and vote for the strongest, finest people who are certain to do the most to safeguard the rights and freedoms of this nation,” he said. “We do not endorse any candidates, but we hope you will vote for good men and women of character, integrity, and ability. You are to be the judge.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 406.)
7. Let your voice be heard.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good and unpopular that which is unsound.”
L. Tom Perry:
“Rather than spend time complaining about the direction in which these institutions are going, we need to exert our influence in shaping the right direction. A small effort by a few can result in so much good for all of mankind.” (The Ensign, May 1988, p 15)
Social media is a convenient way to let your voice be heard. (Facebook, Twitter) Send e-mails and letters to public officials and editors.
8. Contribute Financially.
“Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Campaigns are hugely expensive. Unless everyone contributes, only the rich will win.
9. Volunteer your time and talents.
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”
M. Russell Ballard:
“In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ Perhaps we should state the couplet … as two separate admonitions.
First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement.
Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …
“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (Ensign, May 1989, 80).
LDS First Presidency:
“We strongly urge men and women to be willing to serve on school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and other high offices of either election or appointment” (First Presidency letter, 15 Jan. 1998)
Ezra Taft Benson:
“We must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented. The Lord said that He “holds men accountable for their acts in relation” to governments “both in making laws and administering them” (D&C 134:1). We must follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10). (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 621 – 622)
“One Person’s Influence,” by Robert Kennedy
Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, before his assassination, gave a classic speech.
“Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills. Yet many of the world’s great movements or thoughts and action have flowed from the work of a single person.
“A young monk began the Protestant movement. A young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth. A young woman reclaimed the territory of France, and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and a 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson who explained that all men are created equal.
“These individuals moved the world, and so can we all.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
“Each time a person stands out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million directions or centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”