The Great Experiment — Let Us Lift Our Voices…

“In a council of Heaven long ago, we were given agency by our Heavenly Father to choose the course which we would take, that we might return to His presence after learning more to be like Him. God laid out a plan for redemption, and the Savior Jesus Christ offered Himself a ransom to save mankind. An adversary was there also, pleading a case to strip mankind of agency, the freedom to choose, stripping us also of the ability to grow and to learn from liberty in mortality. We, all of us here on earth today, chose to follow the Lord. Nevertheless, the case of that adversary is yet being pleaded in our earthly realm, by would-be rulers and tyrants, depriving the sons and daughters of God the very freedoms that help us to thrive. Although the memory of that pre-earth council we are unable to recall at this time, we must strive to preserve agency, the liberty and freedom of man to choose. As we follow our Redeemer and share His word, we will be blessed with power and influence to affect the freedoms of our day, for all mankind to choose as we may.”
Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 8 June 2024

Jesus Christ and Our Pre-Earthly Council in Heaven

As everyone who knows me, knows, I have always been an admirer of the Father of Our Country, our Lead Liberator from Tyranny, and our First President, George Washington. From my earliest years of tracing and cutting out his silhouette countenance on black paper, I learned of his heroic efforts to establish liberty in a land unjustly ruled by a monarch, and then his own rejection of a virtual monarch’s crown when the opportunity was his.

“The establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness”

President George Washington

January 9, 1790

As General George Washington, he resisted the press of his own hierarchy of commanders to remove leaders of Congress and establish his own throne, yielding up his sword to that same Congress at the completion of his duties. Later, after being drafted into service again as president of the constitutional convention, he decided to step away from public life again, only to return at the beckoning of his new nation to serve as first president of the United States. Eight years later, after serving for two terms, President George Washington shocked the world when he did the unthinkable, he yielded up power, the office of president, for another to serve.

“General George Washington Resigning His Commission” by John Trumbull, 1824

What is there not to admire about a man such as he? Ceding power to the governed was indeed a great experiment, one that would succeed because of a man like he. As President George Washington said, “The establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness” (January 9, 1790). A great experiment and miracle for mankind it truly is.

But the great experiment of 1787 was not the first time that a man empowered to rule would guide a people to agency and self-governance. I appreciate the courage, wisdom and inspiration of King Mosiah’s decision, two millennia earlier, to propose a change from a monarchical form of government to a republic where people would have the right to vote for representation and grow through their own agency.

To us, those living under the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States, this seems like a no-brainer, but in the day of King Mosiah, as in the time of our founders, of this was unheard. To cede power to the governed, from whence power and authority is truly derived, was a great experiment, and really the only course to allow people to fully embrace their agency and become responsible for the things that they choose.

There were great risks involved here. While it is illogical that people would ever want to choose something that would be harmful to themselves or future generations, there was always that eventuality. King Mosiah predicted that day and the outcome. “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right;… And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time He will visit you with great destruction even as He has hitherto visited this land.”

“If the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you.”
King Mosiah

This is why it is so important that we participate in our communities and in the workings of the governance of our people through our voice and our vote. I heard it once said by a good woman I know, Mary Orton, that “good people ought to have more children.” I would say also that good people ought to raise their voices and make sure that they always vote and participate in their communities.

This is not meant in any way as an endorsement of a political party or a certain point of view, I only appeal to all good people to realize that if you are living an upright life, God will inspire you in the things that you say and in the things that you would choose so that we may all benefit.

“Make your influence felt.”

President George Albert Smith

When faced with a fellow religious leader who wanted to withdraw from the public square in the face of discouragement for the lack of progress, President George Albert Smith once expressed, “Do you always think in terms of what you get? Don’t you think it is well at times to think in terms of what you have to give? I believe that [disciples of Christ] have something to give to the [people] of the world, and that they may also learn from them…. Make your influence felt.”

In 1867 John Stuart Mill, A British philosopher, declared, “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

John Stuart Mill portrait by G.F. Watts, 1873

Irish Philosopher Edmund Burke is quoted as saying something of the same sort. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He went on to say, “When bad men combine, good men must organize.”

“When bad men combine, good men must organize.”

Edmund Burke portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1769

We live in a time that the voices of riotous evil are overwhelming in the public square. It sometimes seems as if our vote often does not matter. Ugliness overwhelms things of beauty in our daily news and in our places of discourse, whether they be on our streets, schools, or in the social realms that have come with technological development. It seems as hopeless to believe that things can improve, but we can lift our voices of reason and lift our voices to heaven that they may be heard of God and man, and truly contribute to a positive public discourse.

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

Benjamin Franklin on the government born of the Constitutional Convention.

Portrait by Joseph Duplessis, 1778

Coming out of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Philadelphia, a bystander asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin’s response was short, but telling, “A republic, if you can keep it.” It is upon us to determine if the great experiment proposed by King Mosiah, or our founding fathers, will succeed. Without our voices, without our input, without our loyalty and energy, it will fail, but if our courage fails not, then it will not, and agency will prevail, as God authored it to do. Be not mistaken, the Great Plan of Happiness will prevail, as Heavenly Father set it in motion to do.

“Evil is powerless if the good are without fear.”

Official Portrait Photograph of President Ronald Reagan, 1981

President Ronald Reagan once said, “Evil is powerless if the good are without fear.” Let us be without fear. Let us not get riled up in our feelings to the point that we become the shouters, but to be reasonable and share by example and with love those things with which we have been inspired to say. Remember, if they come from God then they are just and good. Let us not be cynical, but let us recognize those gifts of the Spirit that guide us to knowing truth, and “lean not unto [our] own understandings” (Proverbs 3:5), but unto the inspiration of a loving Heavenly Father. Let us stand “steadfast and immovable” (Mosiah 5:15) in this thing. May we appeal to Heaven in all things, and then kindly spread the word. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The “Christus” statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen with the “Universe” mural by Sidney King visible behind.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.