We live in a time of extraordinary civil unrest and turmoil. It’s unsettling. As responsible parents and individuals this uncertainty makes it hard to plan and live our lives. The questions on our minds are, “where do I find the honest answers to these questions?” “How can I know for sure what I should be doing in response to events of our day?”
Trying to figure out what the facts are is difficult. It’s a given social media is agenda driven. If you want to listen to an echo chamber, you need look no further. But if you want a more informed source of information where do you turn?
It used to be people could turn to the news to get information about people and events. But not today. People on both sides of the issues have little confidence in new agencies. Democrats (Liberals and Progressives) consider Fox News, most of talk radio, and a few newspapers to be shills for the President.
Republicans (Conservatives and Libertarians) view the “MSM,” the “Main Stream Media,” most cable news outlets and most newspapers as little more than propaganda organs for the DNC. Their credibility is so stained, even the President mocks them with the moniker “fake news.”
Regardless of your political leanings, the reality is news organizations today have overt agendas. Having one is nothing new: the “voice” of a news organization has always been either the owner or publisher. If the publisher wanted something said, the news organization would say it. But, years ago, reputable news agencies enforced a discernible boundary between news and opinion. Today's advocacy journalism has blurred that boundary to the point of nonexistence. Advertising and agendas, not truth, drive the news cycle. As evidence for this, I offer Andrew Sullivan’s blistering departure letter from the New York Magazine. It’s also the root cause of the enormous libel settlements several formerly reputable news organizations are paying Nicolas Sandmann. Click bait headlines is more evidence that this behavior is pervasive in the industry.
So, in the midst of this war of ideas where a tumult of opinions masquerade as news, where can you find the truth about events of our day? There is only one answer. It’s the same one people of all generations have had: personal revelation. President Nelson urged members to develop a greater ability to receive personal revelation from God. The seminal scripture which started the Restoration, James 1:5 doesn’t limit what a person may ask of God. It states: “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”
President Nelson also said, “good information leads to good revelation.” The Doctrine and Covenants, tells us to “study it out in your mind, then ask.” Moroni promises, “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” So the promise for an answer is there. But, you must ask in humility and with the understanding the Lord will tailor His answer, whatever it is, to your personal needs.
Of the few instances where I’ve heard of people asking these very sort of questions, the answers were rarely, “this guy is right while that guy is wrong.” In one case, the answer was, “don’t worry about it. Let it go.” In another it was, “it’s not needful that you know.” For another, the answer was, “this is something you must be more involved in.” And another was insight into the concepts Heavenly Father thinks are relevant and correct for the situation, an insight incidentally which had little to do with the person’s original question.
The common theme through all the answers is the Lord saying: “have faith in Me. I will take care of you and deal with those things outside your sphere of influence.” The scriptures give clear examples of how different those answers can be. Alma the Younger’s answer was to preach the Gospel. For a time, both Mormon and Ether's was to stand as an idle witness: to do nothing. In contrast, Abinadi's was stand as a bold witness, even though it cost him his life doing so.
There will also be times your preconceptions and emotional state will obscure clear answers. Consider Lehi’s and Nephi’s understanding of the river of water in their respective visions of the Tree of Life. Lehi’s anxieties for his sons' welfare blinded him to the water’s filthiness which Nephi saw.
The lesson of the perfecting of the Olive vineyard in Zenos’ vision in Jacob chapter five is also instructive. In that vision, the perfection of the vineyard was an iterative process. The Lord removed the most wicked first. As righteousness increased, He removed the worst remaining fruit. The Lord repeated this process until He finished. Your answers will change over time too, depending on where you are on your personal path of discipleship.
So, ask the Lord to learn what you should do. But do so with humility for He may answer your question with “No,” or with an answer you are not expecting. The thing to remember is to ask in faith then hearken to the answer you get. That is the safe way through these days.