With chapter 12, Mormon writes a withering excoriation of human short-sited and selfish behavior. He starts off with, “And thus we can behold how false and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men…” The chapter is a study in contrasts. On the one hand you have God who’s faithfulness and love is never ending and unchanging. That is contrasted with man who is quick to forget God and be self-absorbed when blessed with great prosperity. For the Nephites, it didn’t take more than a few years before even the righteous were caught up in pride.
This rapid turn from humility to pride drives much of what happens in the Book of Mormon. From God telling Nephi what the Lamanites would be (a scourge to stir them up to repentance) to Mormon’s day where we see this fulfilled. It’s either wars with the Lamanites, famine or natural catastrophes which compel the people to turn to God for help.
It’s such a clear warning to us… for that’s the only reason he included it. He “saw” our day and knew how we’d behave. He’s trying to warn us in the clearest language he can use to not fall into the same trap. For good reason, I fall into it myself and I suspect I’m not alone in that trait. At this point, I consider it a mercy from God when he allows misfortune into our lives as He tries to get our attention so we’ll hear Him ask, “Do I have your attention yet? You’re headed in the wrong direction.” I’d like to get it right… sooner than later.