“Nine Americans, including six children, have now been laid to rest in the wake of the deadly ambush in Mexico. The brutality of the killings has shed new light on the increasing violence just south of the border.
As relatives bury the last victim of the ambush on Saturday, some now worry about the Mormon community’s safety there.
Professor Sergio Pacheco González, who studies the violence in Mexico, said some cartels have splintered into factions that are now fighting each other….
He also pointed out drug use in the United States keeps the elicit trade going while illegal weapons flow south into the hands of the cartels.” (from the article: Massacre of Mormon family reveals evolution of cartel violence in Mexico, CBS News)
Some relatives and friends who live outside the US asked me about this tragedy and whether these families were members of our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My understanding is that the victims of this tragedy were part of a community who may refer to themselves as Mormons, but they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (who try not to be called Mormons, with mixed levels of success).
But it really doesn’t matter of which church these people were members, it’s a tragedy that should not have happened. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement on November 5, to address the tragedy and the confusion about the membership of the families involved:
Church Statement on Tragedy in Mexico:
We are heartbroken to hear of the tragedy that has touched these families in Mexico. Though it is our understanding that they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our love, prayers and sympathies are with them as they mourn and remember their loved ones.
The Real Problems
What I think is more important, however, is the last comment quoted above from Professor Sergio Pacheco González, where he says that:
- The drug use in the United States keeps the elicit trade going
- Illegal weapons flow south into the hands of the cartels
Two articles I recently read confirm and elaborate on that statement:
In the first, written by Newt Gingrich, and titled, Make No Mistake: Mexican Cartel Murders are Funded by Americans we read:
“..President Trump was understandably angry, saying: “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.”
The President’s goal is right, but the target is wrong.
The key to destroying the Mexican cartels is in America not Mexico.
As long as Americans send an estimated $19 billion to $29 billion in drug money a year to Mexico there will be cartels willing to take it. Kill one generation of cartel leaders, and a new generation will emerge.”
As long as so many people use drugs in the US, it will be hard to win the war.
The second article from USAToday, titled, Made in America. Dead in Mexico. The massacre of a family this week highlights ‘grave problem’ of gun smuggling, together with other similar articles, points out to the problem of gun smuggling. In that article we read:
“Alfonso Durazo, Mexico’s minister of security, announced that a bi-national committee of representatives from the U.S. and Mexico has been created to control the trafficking of guns. “This is a grave problem we have in the our country because trafficking of guns, particularly from the United States, is what has elevated the firepower of criminal groups,” Durazo said.
The southward flow of firearms (and money) across the border – going in the opposite direction of pot, cocaine, heroin and meth – is a decades-old dilemma with no known solution.”
Drug use and gun smuggling are two problems that are difficult to solve: the drug use in the United States keeps the elicit trade going, and the illegal weapons who flow south into the hands of the cartels increase their danger.
While governments need to do their job by focusing on fighting this WAR with conventional strategies, it seems to me that a real improvement would require a change of heart in those who use drugs, in those who profit from selling guns, and from those who kill for money.
What Can The Book of Mormon Teach Us About Fighting Criminal Groups?
It seems like hard to believe that this will ever happen, but the Book of Mormon makes some dire prediction for those countries in the American continent who allow “secret combinations” (like cartels) to become too powerful. If we don’t stop the descending spirals of violence and iniquity, whether it be the US, Mexico, Guatemala or any other country, the consequences will be extremely serious.
Nations that uphold secret combinations shall be destroyed, according to the Book of Mormon.
In Ether 8:22–23 we read:
“22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.
23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.”
President Ezra Taft Benson declared in general conference, that “The Book of Mormon … was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us.” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 6.)
Mormon often points out to his readers, the people of our day, the lessons of events that happened before our time. Mormon sees these events as patterns for us to learn from.
For example, after describing a righteous period that quickly gave way to a period plagued by Gadianton robbers, Mormon declared, “We may see at the very time when [God] doth prosper his people, … doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.” (Hel. 12:2.)
The Book of Ether: A Warning for the Last Days
“The book of Ether is a parable of warning for our time. Unlike most parables, however, it is based not on a fictitious narrative but on the fortunes of an actual nation. As such, the book illustrates the conditions for physical and spiritual survival and warns us against those forces that would destroy us.”
“The preface to Ether is the last two chapters in the previous book, Mormon. Here we learn that Moroni wrote specifically for those who would be living when the Book of Mormon would come forth—us. In one passage, he cataloged the sins of our generation. They are the same sins that brought about the destruction of the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations: pride, materialism, vanity, lack of charity, pollution of the church of God, and support of secret combinations. (See Morm. 8:26–41.)”
“The book of Ether is thus a pattern of what will happen if our generation does not repent. At the same time, it describes how we can escape destruction and details the great blessings that come to those who turn to the Savior.” (I Know Your Doing)
We may not have arrived yet to the point of no return described in the Book of Ether, and hopefully as a people we will learn to escape destruction, but what is happening in Mexico and in many other places are dangerous signs that should not be ignored, and a confirmation that the Book of Mormon is a book for our days.