Today I read Alma 24, which even though it is one of the most well known in the Book of Mormon, is actually one of my least favorite chapters. I have never enjoyed this chapter, possibly because I am the natural man and cannot fathom just laying down and letting myself and my family be killed. I suppose if I knew it was going to be a quick death and my family was not going to be tormented and abused, maybe then, but the natural man is very strong in me and I fight against such notions.
Nevertheless, I am getting side-tracked. The thing that I can't get over in this chapter is the unreasoning hatred those not of our faith have for us at times. I understand that not everyone falls into this trap, but I have met many people that do. I remember one time as a teenager going to a friend's house to pick them up for an activity and her mother wanted to meet me. I'll never forget it, I rang the doorbell and she came out said hi, and her mother came out behind her, wiping her hands on a towel, looked me over from head to toe and said, "Well you don't look evil".
I have never understood why people will get so angry at other people just because they believe something different than they do. It does not make any sense at all. It's like the whole world has a superiority complex that the other person has to admit they were wrong and the other party is right. Now to be fair, in this day and age, I have met many, many more people who have had a very open mind and were eager to learn or at least understand.
It's so funny, people who would never in a million years argue with a Catholic or a Baptist or a Methodist and tell them all the reasons they are wrong, will fight with me and get furious at me, just because I am a Latter-day Saint. It reminds me of the Romans fighting against the Christians just because they were Christian, no other reason. The only other thing I can even compare it to in my mind in a non-religious sense is how a lot of people treated the black population in the United States after the Civil war. Hating them for no other reason than their skin color was different.
Honestly, maybe that's why I don't like this chapter. I have never been one to tolerate abject stupidity. I always remove myself from the situation if I can. I don't like the fact that the Lamanites, Amulonites and Amalakites go to war over the fact that the people have started to convert to Christianity. It's appallingly stupid! It reminds me of the Muslim extremists. I did find something interesting today though.
In the latter half of this chapter it says the people of God prostrated themselves on the ground praying and that the army of the Amulonites and Amalakites killed 1005 people. Always before today I pictured this as taking a long time, maybe like half an hour or something. But then I got to thinking today that even during the times of the Nephites and Lamanites, armies are comprised of tens of thousands of men if not hundreds of thousands. I now picture this event as happening something like this.
First, I picture the army coming up and seeing this scene before them and stopping in confusion. I picture them just looking out at the men, women and children praying then looking at each other in bewilderment. Then I picture most of them just standing in shock while some of the more wicked, a few hundred at most, rush forward to kill while the vast majority of the army just stands there watching, unable to go through with the horrific deed. After about a minute, I mean even if only 100 people did the killing that's only 10 kills a person and without any resistance that does not take long, even those who were blood thirsty enough to kill unarmed men, women and children stop and are horrified by what they are doing. Based on how Mormon wrote this, I think that the majority of the killing was done by Amulonites and Amalakites.
I then see the men who were most disgusted by that display, throwing down their arms and walking over to the people praying and falling to their knees, begging for forgiveness and thus softening even the most blood thirsty of hearts. It is a sobering thought no matter how it happened but that is what I picture just from what is known about their warfare. Despite the horridness of it all, as Mormon said, surely the people who were slain were received unto the Father for their righteousness and it led to the conversion of many, many people. Just as with the women and children of Ammonihah, the Lord works in mysterious ways to bring about His purposes. Until tomorrow.