On Patriotism and Mistakes

In one of my classes the other day, a professor shared a quote that sparked an idea.  Orson Hyde spoke on July 4, 1854 in the SLC Tabernacle on patriotism, liberty, the Declaration of Independence and more. While speaking of the American Revolution, Orson said,
In those early and perilous times, our men were few, and our resources limited. Poverty was among the most potent enemies we had to encounter; yet our arms were successful; and it may not be amiss to ask here, by whose power victory so often perched on our banner? It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country . . . This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world. This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammelled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water. (*Orson Hyde, “Celebration of the Fourth of July,” JD 6:368).

Now, I'm not the most patriotic person in the world (*cough cough* understatement), but I think that's pretty cool.

But also...

It got me thinking about our lives - my life in particular.  You see, the history books have all been printed concerning Christopher Columbus and, as far as my (limited) knowledge is concerned, historians have come to agree that his stumbling upon the North American continent is one of the greatest mistakes of modern history.  He set out for the East Indies; he came upon not the East Indies.  Seems pretty clear that he made some errors.

...Or does it?

This quote got me thinking about the nature of mistakes.  Perhaps they are mistakes, or follies, only in our human eyes, for it seems clearly evident in the quote above that Orson Hyde (and by synecdoche, the early Church leadership) believed that there was no such mistake made.  He states quite plainly that our silly Columbus was guided purposefully to arrive where he did not intend to go.  And this, this!, is the point!

When in our lives do we think that we have made huge errors in judgment?  ...That we intended to go one way, to fulfill the carefully schemed tenets of our best laid plans, and ended up somewhere entirely other, feeling ashamed and foolish and wringing our hands in despair.  Do we, I wonder, arrest our pain and think that, perhaps, we have been led by an invisible hand, as Elder Hyde mentions above?  Do we pause to essay to see with spiritual eyes the significance of veering off our humanly-conceived course?

I wonder:  do we miss the Americas in our lives, looking desperately around us for our East Indies?


Post a Comment


Lauren Kay House © 2011