Amalekiah’s Usurpation Looks Familiar
There was a man who was unsuccessful in leading a revolt in his own country in which he desired to gain power, enforce his agenda, and gain control of the world at large. Following this failure, Amalekiah, and his brother Ammoron and other dissenters, marched into a land in which he was not a citizen: he didn't look the same as the citizens; he spoke differently; and he did not have a shared history with the people. He did not have the same religion, customs, or core beliefs. But he killed the king and the military chief commander and took over the kingdom with seemingly little effort or opposition. I often have wondered how a foreigner could enter a country and take it over with the blessing of the people.
First of all, Amalekiah was unsuccessful in his own country because of the efforts of a very young man named Moroni who raised “The Title of Liberty.” Amalekiah and his followers gained support through working on the dissenting voices of the people. He tried to break up harmony and unity and cause disorder. Through words of flattery, he hoped to destroy the foundation of liberty among his people. Moroni’s efforts were a call to unity, a call to remembrance of duty, and a call to be righteous. There is always virtue in the word of God. But even while many were heeding Moroni’s call and being strengthened individually, the country was greatly weakened by those who were more concerned with promoting their self-interest groups instead of working in a bipartisan way to achieve those goals that would promote the security and welfare of the people.
And so Amalekiah bode his time and made careful calculations as to how he could gain more power and authority of the world at large. Since he was unsuccessful in forcing his agenda at home, he sought to use his puppet country in order to bring his own people around to his sordid plan and his social order. And so Amalekiah and Ammoron began their marches as “bold citizens” of a country to which they did not belong to try to implement what they desired to achieve and to usurp power and authority over all surrounding cities, states, and countries. And because they were permitted to get as far as they did without question (first, among dissenters in their own country; and, second, among the apathetic citizens of their new country), they were able to go forth from city to city, gaining more momentum and power, and taking over many strongholds.
It took much fasting, prayer, work, struggle, fighting, and more work for the people to regain their lands and their freedoms. Flattery and fair promises will never bring about order and freedom. It also took the energy and brilliance of many notable leaders to pull the people out of the hole into which they had dug themselves. The cost was tremendous! Of course, there had to be increased military and military spending. New structures had to be built. Cities had to be fortified. Weapons had to be produced in mass numbers. But the most terrible cost was that of human lives on both sides and in both countries.
While Amalekiah, and later on his brother Ammoron, worked upon the weaknesses of the people, Moroni and other righteous leaders depended upon the strength of the people. They did not make fair promises of freebies and handouts. How could they? Those things would not help the people rise up to regain and retain their freedoms. Instead, they were honest about the predicament that they were in, and they depended upon the people to work together to save and safeguard all that was most sacred to them. No matter how sophisticated a society thinks it has become, we are never and we will never be above needing God’s influence to guide and protect and lead us in the paths of freedom, nor will we be above the necessity of heeding His laws. Our cry needs to be Moroni’s cry, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12) And our invitation should equal his, “Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them” (Alma 46:20).
And so we are back to the question of how an individual can take over a country, especially one in which he has no real ties. First of all, the people have forgotten to rely on God and to seek His favor. They rely on their own wisdom (which often is foolishness), and they rely on the flattering promises of a want-to-be leader. Also, a great majority does not want to pay the price for freedom; they want the government to feed and take care of their every need. Whatever the causes of their weakened condition, there are programs, ideologies, and apathy that have contributed. And there is this universal truth that freedom is not free. Safeguarding freedom takes work and constant vigilance. Regaining freedom takes blood, sweat, and tears, and, most of all, repentance.
(See Alma 46-48)