At the end of Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon, Moroni shares with us the utter destruction of the Jaredite nation – except for one man. This nation of millions of people lost its focus upon the good, and suffered the distractions of the wicked. Family values deteriorated into dysfunction; greed, pride and power were the values of the time. For the Jaredites, such distraction led to their destruction.
Dr. David Strayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah said, “Drivers who are text messaging, or even talking on their cell phone suffer from something called ‘inattention blindness’; where something as obvious as a gorilla walking across the street, you’re blind to it. You don’t see it because your mind is so preoccupied or absorbed with the phone conversation or the text message, that you just don’t see the obvious thing that everybody else would see.”
The Jaredites’ distraction from following the Lord was just like that gorilla walking across the street – they couldn’t see from within what we all can see from without. They were so distracted by this inattention blindness that they were focused only upon their greed, pride and power; and they fought each other so that they didn’t have to share it with others. We can see it, but why couldn’t they?
Last Sunday, we had a great Stake Conference in Santa Rosa. The visiting General Authority, Elder David S. Baxter of the First Quorum of the Seventy, shared great spiritual insights and anecdotes with us. Into the evening at home, my heart and mind were still spiritually “full”, or spiritually “well-fed”. But then, Monday rolled around and such great inspirations and feelings succumbed to the distractions of everyday life. I had to fill up the car with gasoline; navigate the southbound traffic on 101 from Santa Rosa to San Rafael; try to prioritize my tasks to be done between two offices; close out the days and generate reports to my bosses; even my workday is interrupted with distractions – things that had to be done, although they weren’t on my priority list formulated on my way into work. I sure wish that we could have a week full of Sundays, and one day off for work!?!? It would certainly be a lot easier not to be distracted from staying close to Jesus Christ.
So, how can we avoid our own personal distraction unto destruction? How can we steer clear from inattention blindness in our daily lives? Just as Ether, or Moroni, or Mormon, or Alma, or any of the prophets from the Book of Mormon are constantly reminding and warning us – we need to come unto Christ and truly believe in His teachings and redeeming powers. If the Jaredites could have remembered the purpose and the value of the future event of Christ’s mortal life and death, they could have avoided the distractions that led to their destruction. And, in our lives, we can do the same thing.
This Sunday, after feeling the spiritual influence of the Holy Ghost, and feeling the light and strength from the messages of Christ’s gospel, make it a point to hold onto something learned or felt, and carry that with you throughout the week. When distractions do come up, simply remind yourself about Sunday’s feelings, step back and refocus. Pay attention to what is going on around you, but keep your focus upon the Savior, Jesus Christ. Don’t let that gorilla cross the street without you seeing it!
For a great, totally unrelated video about the danger of cell phone use while driving, please go to this link: http://ut.zerofatalities.com/texting.php. (In fact, Dr. Strayer’s quote above is from this report.) Anybody that lives with or loves someone who uses their phone unsafely while driving should encourage them to take the 15 minutes to watch this insightful news report. It’s well worth it!