Brother Joseph & Anthony the Slave
I believe part of the cause of our country spinning out of economic control is the generous nature of every day people. They hear of people suffering and they want the government, a powerful and wealthy entity, to do something to help them. Americans always root for the underdog and we regularly put our own money where our mouth is.
However, this does not justify us asking our government to give money to people to whom it does not belong. Our government has gone way past providing for the general welfare of the people and is quickly swallowing up the wealth of this nation in social programs our children will never be able to pay off.
But what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to site idly by while people go hungry, go without medical care, go without a chance for a good education? Thankfully, we can be a just and a merciful people. The following story about Joseph Smith illustrates how:
While he was acting as mayor of the city, a colored man named Anthony was arrested for selling liquor on Sunday, contrary to law. He pleaded that the reason he had done so was that he might raise the money to purchase the freedom of a dear child held as a slave in a Southern State. He had been able to purchase the liberty of himself and his wife and now wished to bring his little child to their new home. Joseph said, ‘I am sorry, Anthony, but the law must be observed, and we will have to impose a fine.’
The next day Brother Joseph presented Anthony with a fine horse, directing him to sell it, and use the money obtained for the purchase of the child. (Young Womanâ€™s Journal (Salt Lake City), vol. 17, no. 12 (Dec. 1906): 538.)
While acting in his role of Mayor, Joseph was bound by justice to uphold the law. However, as soon as he had removed that hat, he had the liberty of a private citizen to give of his private property for the welfare of a suffering soul. And this is exactly what we should expect of our government and of ourselves in these trying times. Our government is the tool of justice to enforce the law – not to redistribute the wealth. And we should expect ourselves to share and that liberally so that we may alleviate suffering according to our ability and conscience. This is the recipe for liberty.