Episode 1 // The Power of Peace: Unpacking the Book of Mormon's Message for Today with Emma Addams

Feb 13, 2024
Proclaim Peace

In the first episode of the Proclaim Peace podcast, hosts Jen and Patrick are joined by Emma Addams to discuss the concept of peace and its decline in the world. They explore various factors that contribute to this decrease, such as social media, loneliness, and political polarization. They highlight the need to understand and address this issue by examining the Book of Mormon and its teachings on peace. Join them as they delve into this important topic and offer insights on how to cultivate peace in a troubled world.

 

 

 

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or watch on YouTube.

 

[00:01:19] Decrease of peace in the world.

[00:07:23] Peace leaving the world.

[00:07:54] Generalized discontent and peacemaking.

[00:13:00] Defining peacemaking.

[00:16:35] Peace as a transformative force.

[00:21:24] The Book of Mormon and practicality.

[00:25:00-00:25:10] The hero of the story.

[00:29:01] Making peace through studying.

[00:32:14] Seeing others as enemies.

[00:36:13] The Book of Mormon's guidance.

 

Transcript

(00:03-00:06) Jennifer Thomas: Welcome to the Proclaim Peace Podcast. I'm Jennifer Thomas.
(00:06-00:15) Patrick Mason: And I'm Patrick Mason. And this is the podcast where we apply principles of the gospel and read the Book of Mormon to become better peacemakers.

(00:15-00:15) Jennifer Thomas: Hi, Patrick.

(00:16-00:35) Patrick Mason: Hey, Jen. I'm so excited to welcome everybody to this first episode of the Proclaimed Peace podcast. And this first season, we're calling The Book of Mormon for Peacemakers. And we just can't wait to share an entire season's worth of peacemaking with you. So Jen, you were the one who came up with the idea for this podcast. So could you tell us where the idea came from?

(00:35-01:52) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, I'd be happy to. So like everyone listening to this podcast, I wear a lot of hats. I have a lot of relationships, and whether it's through work, where we work in a political setting, or as family, in my ward, in my community. And I think that one of the things that I've noticed is something that we hear a lot of people writing about, which is lots of people are struggling. There's sort of a sense of, People are flailing and have anxiety. And I think we attribute that to a lot of different causes, whether it's social media or whether it is an epidemic of loneliness, political polarization. There are lots of reasons that we think about that. But what if, in fact, instead of this being something that has multiple causes, there is, in fact, a first cause, something that is is making all of us feel the way we do. And as I've thought about this, particularly in the context of my work, I've come to the realization that I think maybe what we're all feeling as children of God is a decrease of peace in the world. We feel sort of the lights going out a little bit. And particularly as people who have been very blessed to grow up, most of us, in a period of unprecedented peace and security, just globally, I don't think we know quite what to do with it.

(01:53-02:10) Patrick Mason: Oh, interesting. And so when you read the headlines, when you hear about these things, you do hear about anxiety. You hear about polarization, all these kinds of things. So you're suggesting those things are not the cause of the problem. Actually, they are just the presenting symptoms of something much deeper.

(02:10-04:06) Jennifer Thomas: Of a disease that we're all kind of suffering from. Certainly part of the reason that I think I feel aware of that particularly is because of my work. And as many of our listeners might know, MWEG is faith-based nonprofit organization that is focused on helping to bring about ethical governance. But we do this through a very specific lens, and that is peacemaking. So even when I'm working in a highly polarized environment, I'm thinking about peacemaking. And we've been doing this as an organization for years. trying to reframe how we approach our politics. So the idea of peace wasn't new to me. It was something that I was thinking deeply about. But then there was a pretty significant event that occurred for me personally, when President Nelson spoke about peacemaking, you know, his talk in the April conference of 2023, this year, where he said, or I guess last year, where he said peacemakers are needed. You know, there have been a few times in my life when I've heard a prophet speaking and I have felt two things at once. The first was a personal call to act. And the second one that what I was listening to was truly a prophetic call to the world. And that was sort of how I experienced that event. And within a very short period of time at MWG, we realized that We weren't alone in that as an organization. Many women in my organization had responded that way. But we started to field lots of requests from women who had also experienced that conference as a very profound and pivotal moment for them. And they wanted to figure out how to heed that call. They wanted to respond personally. And they also wanted to figure out how they could do what the prophet had called them to do, which was to be peacemakers. But what they were finding as the weeks passed and they thought about it was they didn't know how. They felt the urge, but they didn't have a pathway to figure out how to do that, particularly in a really contentious world.

(04:06-04:31) Patrick Mason: Yeah, I love that. And so the podcast for you becomes a way of answering that how question of sort of responding to that call, but then going a step further of not just like, I believe in this, or this is a value that I have. But part of what we want to do in this podcast is actually talk about concrete possibilities and ways that people can become better peacemakers.

(04:31-05:33) Jennifer Thomas: Exactly. And I think one of the things that's most important about my work at MWAG and our work as an organization is that we are a faith-based organization and we do turn consistently to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to help us solve problems. So when we were kind of presented with this problem and a call from a prophet, I think one of our initial responses as leaders of the organization was to turn to the scriptures and to start to ask ourselves, what can the scriptures provide us in terms of answers to this question about practically how we can become peacemakers? So since we were all reading the New Testament, that was my first area of focus. But as the year started to end, and I realized that we were going to be doing the Book of Mormon in the coming year, I thought, oh my goodness, this is actually a really wonderful opportunity for us to take a unique scripture to us, a restoration scripture that I think, perhaps more than any other book of scripture, from beginning to end has something to teach us about peacemaking. So as an organization, we conceived of doing this podcast. We reached out to you, and your response was?

(05:34-07:12) Patrick Mason: Yes, I mean, I'm here. I'm here. I mean, and it's so interesting that I'm here partly because I had a very similar experience to you in terms of as I was listening to General Conference in April of 2023, and then President Nelson gave that talk. I mean, I was obviously inclined towards this. I've been thinking and reading about peace for a long time, right? But when he heard that, like, I just felt like riveted to what he was saying. And I just felt deeply that what I'm hearing right now is prophetic with a capital P. Yeah, exactly. And I truly believe this. We're going to be reading that talk 50 years from now, 100 years from now. But it's also—it was what God needed us to hear right now. This is why we have living prophets. And for me, partly, it was the context that I was—you know, not only the world, but also very particularly for me. I'm at Utah State University. We were in the midst—I was working with a bunch of colleagues to set up a new peace institute there. And it dedicated to training students, training a next generation of students to go out and to be peace builders in the world. And a lot of our students, it's a state school, but a lot of our students, because we're in Utah, are a Latter-day Saint. And so it was just like this combination of all of these different factors of feeling called to this and feeling like this is something. I mean, I'm originally a historian by training. And as important as history is, and it is, I just really feel this call that what the world needs right now is more and better peacemakers.

(07:13-09:24) Jennifer Thomas: I love the way you've used that word calling because as I felt this feeling that peace was going out of the world, right? That there were places that it had been present and it suddenly wasn't, but that because we were people who had lived so robustly with it, we just didn't understand the anxiety that we were feeling, right? We have a hard way to put a name to it, but if we can name it and say, maybe one of the reasons that we are feeling this heightened level of discomfort and happiness, conflict, anxiety, is because we see peace leaving, then I think we need to ask ourselves, as disciples of Jesus Christ, what is our calling to do something about that? And I think President Nelson's talk did just such a beautiful job of making what I think most of us were feeling anyway as a generalized discontent with the way things were going. It didn't feel right. We don't like the conflict that is rife in the world. But we didn't quite know as disciples what we were supposed to do about that. And I think this prophetic call really focused us all in and said, no, what you need to do is be peacemakers. And again, as disciples, I think we have sort of two calls in that context. And the first is, we need ourselves to turn to the Prince of Peace to be healed. We need to be willing and able to understand the deficits that this is bringing into our own lives, sort of a little bit like you're on a plane and the oxygen goes and it's like, put on your own mask first, right? So we need to figure out how we can go to Christ to be healed in this environment of high conflict and feel peace ourselves. And then we have the obligation, I think, to act in his name to become healers. And the only way we can do that, the only way we can become healers and peacemakers, is if we are willing to go deep in on the scriptures, go deep into learning about leaders in the field, go deep into understanding how the conflict is playing out, and think about what our role is to make things better.

(09:24-10:08) Patrick Mason: Yeah. No, I couldn't agree more. And I love that we're rooting it, especially in this first season in the Book of Mormon itself. I was so struck by something that Elder Ahmed Corbett from the Quorum of the Seventy said. He was speaking at a conference in July of 2023 and talking about the Book of Mormon, and it was a conference dedicated to peace-building and reducing polarization and so forth. And he said, my strong belief is that a loving Heavenly Father revealed this heart-wrenching story, the Book of Mormon, in part so that we don't repeat it. So I think the Book of Mormon is going to be this amazing primer for us to learn these principles, to do a deep dive into these principles, and that's exactly what I'm excited to do this season.

(10:08-10:36) Jennifer Thomas: So I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we went into this project fairly hopefully. We thought we had this robust text. And I think even as we have read just into the first chapters, having already been two people that professionally were trying to bring peace, I think we have both been surprised, once we started to look at this text just through the lens of peacemaking, about how many phenomenal examples there are of exactly what Elder Corbett has said, right?

(10:36-10:44) Patrick Mason: Yeah, you should see the margins of my—the notes in my margin, absolutely. It's just—there's so much to talk about.

(10:44-11:55) Jennifer Thomas: And so I think we're really excited to bring this to this audience. And I guess what I would also say is that we really hope that, as you said, this will be very tangible, that as people listen to this podcast, engage with our guests, that they will have the opportunity to leave every episode with a very specific action item. This is a way I can bring peace. So instead of just feeling general discomfort, they actually will feel empowered to act and sort of be disciples in this area. I think one of the things we just would want to remind people of is that part of the reason we feel this general peace decreasing is because Peace impacts so many areas of our life. There are systems of peace that are put into place that help us that we don't even recognize when they're functioning. There's peace within families. There's peace in other relationships. There's, you know, some of us work in organizations that facilitate peace better than others. We need to seek personal peace and ultimately we also are going to be our best selves when we are at peace with God. And so I just think there's so many opportunities that the Book of Mormon gives us to specifically address each of those aspects of peace, and we're really excited about it.

(11:55-11:57) Patrick Mason: Absolutely, couldn't agree more. So should we dive in?

(11:57-12:47) Jennifer Thomas: Let's dive in. I am thrilled today to be able to introduce our very first guest. She is my co-executive director at Mormon Women for Ethical Government, Emma Petty Adams. Emma is truly an extraordinary person. When I first joined MWEG, one of the the concepts of the organization that was not the most native to me was peacemaking. And Emma has in many ways been my spirit guide in this regard. And I have watched her do this literally for thousands of women. She has an intuitive and native understanding of what peacemaking means, how we can put it into action, and the really critical ways that it can impact our society. And I'm super excited to have her share with all of us today some of her really valuable thoughts. Thanks, Dan. Excited to be here with both of you.

(12:47-12:59) Patrick Mason: So awesome to have you. Okay, so you have this intuitive and native understanding of peacemaking. Facts. As the kids say. So I want to hear you define it. What does peace mean to you?

(13:00-14:01) Emma Addams: So thanks for the lovely introduction. I feel like I have to correct a little bit because I don't feel like peacemaking is native to me. I think I natively was a peacekeeper. I think historically, I think I took on a lot of roles where I was trying to keep everyone happy. But it wasn't until my adulthood that I really felt like I needed to learn how to be a peacemaker and really make change and do things differently. At this point in my life, I would define peace as really, I experience it when I'm linked to and following God's will for my life. It's when I'm making decisions, large and small, that are based on a connectedness to spiritual things. And that's not dependent upon circumstances. In fact, I think as many of us can attest to, I felt some of my most peaceful moments in the midst of the storms. And it's really what it is, is a sense of being solid and loved and pointed in the right direction, even if I'm not exactly where I want to be at that moment. Peace is not dependent upon where I am now, it's dependent upon where I'm pointed and the sense that I know where I'm going or that at least I know I will know where I'm going.

(14:02-14:18) Patrick Mason: That's interesting, and I love the way that you talked about that it's a skill that was learned or a set of virtues that, you know, you didn't come out of the womb being a peace builder, but it sounds like you've worked on and cultivated and developed.

(14:18-14:23) Emma Addams: Intentionally, right? Thoughtfully and intentionally and still work on.

(14:23-14:47) Jennifer Thomas: Okay, so Emma. This is going to be the question I think a lot of people are going to be asking. You and I work in politics. MWAG is a political organization in a deeply polarized moment in our nation's history where politics is not collaborative, and it is kind of a point of contention and conflict. So what business do we have sponsoring and creating a podcast about peace?

(14:47-15:51) Emma Addams: Make the case. Right. Well, I think politics and peace are a challenge. It's a real challenge. And I've always been someone who, that's why I've learned how to be a peacemaker. It's a big challenge for me, right? And where is there a more challenging place than to learn how to make peace than in one of the most contentious and conflict-ridden spaces that there is? And that's what I had appreciated so much about Amway and why I was drawn to it, why I was drawn to become its leader, is because this peacemaking frame just flips lots of things on its head. And you have so much material to work with. If you want to create something, you have to have material. You have to have something to work with. And if you want to create peace, why not in politics, where you have just got endless amount of material to work with. It's going to keep us busy for a really, really long time. And then, so thus, you can actually see peacemaking within politics as a truly creative endeavor. It is our birthright to be creative people, to be creative humans. And so politics is a place to really create peace.

(15:51-16:54) Jennifer Thomas: So, and I think I will add to that that NWIG is a member organization. And so, you know, we work with a group of thousands of women, few of whom actually originally had any intention to engage with politics but have felt driven to because of circumstances around them. And I think that we can both share countless examples of the fact that this unlikely band of sisters has found success as much because we are peacemakers as because of the principles that we are arguing for. So it's sort of in the two elements of, I think, the success of women as they've engaged is first that they've had these clear principles, but most importantly, every situation that we go into, we have story after story of peace being the thing that flipped the script. Peace being the thing that actually helped us continue a conversation that someone was trying to shut down. Peace being a reason that an organization came back to us and said, your women engaged in an extraordinary and unexpected way. We'd like more of this.

(16:54-17:21) Emma Addams: Yeah, and I would also add that if I think the things that we learn, engage in the work we do in a day-to-day basis, then kind of move out into the other spaces of our lives. So if I can make peace in a meeting with a senator staffer who's inclined to be hostile, frankly, who had these experiences where you come in and they're hostile. They've made assumptions. They've made assumptions, right? And they're kind of almost like ready for us to fight them, right?

(17:22-17:23) Patrick Mason: Because that's their world.

(17:23-18:13) Emma Addams: That is their world. And they're trying to place, where are you on the political spectrum? And they want to put you here, and then they want to push back against you, or invite you in, depending upon where you position yourself. And when we position ourselves nowhere along there, but as a spectrum, in various places along there, and we also don't fight back, it immediately de-escalates. It immediately kind of disarms. I mean, true, that word is such a beautiful word. I love that word. And then the other wonderful thing is that then those skills I've learned, those experiences, I then take them home. I use them in my family, my marriage with my children, right? And so it's this wonderful cycle where it's like my work is certainly here, but all the skills I'm building and all the things I'm learning are impacting every area of my life. And that is, I think, one of the most meaningful and unexpected parts of doing this work.

(18:13-19:37) Patrick Mason: Yeah, that's amazing. It reminds me, recently I was teaching an intro to peacebuilding course, and we were reading some of the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. He's this amazing Buddhist monk who's written about peacebuilding. And a lot of what he talks about is breathing and so forth. And for me, in some ways, it was very academic. I was teaching it to students. I wanted to make sure that they learned the concepts, those kinds of things. But then I came home, literally that night, and my youngest daughter was having just all kinds of anxiety and troubles and so forth. And I was like, why don't we try breathing? Why don't we actually try this thing? I was just reading in a book, right? But it works, right? And so these things, there's a way that we can apply it across these various fields that we're in. So OK, but why then? In some ways, it's a strange question, but I think it's an important question. Why a podcast? The two of you are super busy. Every time I talk to you, you've come back from an important meeting, doing important things, right? Doing out there. And so why one more thing? Why a podcast? Other than the fact that everybody has a podcast these days, right? And so, you know, you can't be cool without one. But what are we trying to do here?

(19:38-20:53) Jennifer Thomas: So I think what we are trying to do is bring a lot of voices into the conversation. I think that, just like I talked about, there are people that have beautiful perspectives on the scriptures. They have a gift for interpreting them and expounding on them. But I think that particularly in peacemaking, we have realized that there is this wide world of individuals who are doing this work in all sorts of different spheres, who also are believers, who are members of our faith, who are grounding this work in their hope in Christ. And to be able to create a podcast where we bring together this book of scripture that we think has a unique voice that we need to hear, a unique story to tell to people in our period of conflict, and hear how the people who are doing the work actively to address that conflict, interpret that scripture, engage with it, and bring their faith to their work, I think and hope will be a rich resource for countless members of our faith and others who are seeking to follow that call to become peacemakers.

(20:54-21:15) Patrick Mason: Yeah. So where does the Book of Mormon fit in? Because we could sit here and just talk about the principles of peace, right? We could bring in these peace builders, tell lots of awesome stories and so forth, but we really are consciously gonna focus this season on the Book of Mormon and go through it. We're gonna try and go from First Nephi to Moroni and everything in between.

(21:15-21:24) Jennifer Thomas: We could approach this as Buddhists, we could approach this as just general Christians, we could approach this agnostically, but I think for us, there's incredible power.

(21:24-23:02) Emma Addams: For me, the Book of Mormon is where the philosophical meets the practical. And this is really, if I were to describe the vision for how I try to operate in this role, in this work, in so many aspects of my life, I love to get caught up. in the words, in the ideas, in the philosophies. I love to kind of think the big ideas and listen to people like you and Jen talk about these things. And then I always get itchy. I get itchy to want to see, well, what does this mean? What does this look like? What does it actually do? How is this going to impact my life positively? How is it going to help me show more love and be a better disciple? And, you know, M. Wake's had these principles of peacemaking that we've, from the very beginning, all of our work was grounded in. And they're beautiful, and you read them, and we have a lot of discussion about them. And we've, years and years of discussion, and I feel like over these years, we've just started to get more practical about it. How does it actually look? And for me, the Book of Mormon is the space where they really intersect. And I look back upon, you know, my journey with the Book of Mormon, and I've read it in lots of different ways over the decades that I've read it. It's had times where there was a personal story, there was a certain scripture that I would repeat every day for a really difficult month. Every morning I would get up and say it. And what the Book of Mormon, as far as peacemaking, has kind of included for me, I think looking back into 2020, which was the last year that we as a church did kind of come follow me Book of Mormon, I mean, I say that word 2020 and everyone's like, ah, 2020, right? I mean, it just brings back all sorts of memories, right? And, you know, it was an election year. It was just a very difficult election year. You know, it was a pandemic.

(23:02-23:03) Patrick Mason: All the racial conflict.

(23:03-25:46) Emma Addams: It was just so much going on. And then I was also leading this organization. I was one year into leading this organization, which was new. It was, you know, underfunded. We were trying to make peace in this difficult world. And that year I clung to the Book of Mormon like I never had before. And I started to see these patterns emerge that I had never seen before, partly because there was all these parallels, you know, with disease and fighting and all the other sorts of things and the hatred of, you know, one towards one another and families, honestly, turning on each other and communities. and churches, and wards, and husband and wife, and parent and child. And so it just felt very real. And so I thought to myself, I kind of kept thinking, well, if this is what's going on here, and this is what's going on here, maybe there's something to learn from this. And I just really immersed myself in the book of the Mormon that year, even more than I'd ever had before, and tried to look at it in lots of different ways. 2020 was actually a really beautiful year for me, and I really credit my studies of the Book of Mormon with doing that. I mean, to the point where I'd be walking home from school pickup, and one of my neighbors, who's a Methodist, would make a comment about the current state of the world, and I would say, In the Book of Mormon, it talks about this. But it was just coming out of me. It wasn't planned. And I would tell some story and say, yeah, there's this. And there's no lack of material in this book. And so I think alongside the beautiful ideas and more than anything else, I think what I recognized was that you're looking for all these examples of peacemakers. I was looking for people who were making peace. And you can find little nuggets here and there. You can find a story here, a story there. But no one person in that book, I think I would say, is a master peacemaker necessarily. There's not necessarily a thread that goes through. And a lot of times in this book you have the narrators and the prophets kind of almost begging you not to see them as like the final voice or the best one here. They actually say there's mistakes here, there's problems here. And what that did for me as I was reading the book Mormon again in preparation for 2024 is I realized, well, who's the hero here? Who's the example? Who's the one that I can look for to find the practical examples and the meaning? And it's Christ, right? Christ is the hero of the story. And so if you can look for ways that you see that his words, the ways that when people try to model his words and his actions, that's where you find the peace and you have all these wonderful examples of how not to make peace and sometimes those are actually more effective. It's almost better sometimes. How not to.

(25:46-27:04) Jennifer Thomas: How not to really helps. As long as we're willing to do that because I think that sometimes even though we're told that the Book of Mormon is for our day, sometimes I think we tend to read it more as a how-to manual and we sort of pattern ourselves in some ways after people, particularly when we're trying to kind of justify violence. And I think that when we read the Book of Mormon through a lens of peacemaking, it actually gives us, like you said, Emma, the opportunity to use it the way I think it was intended, as a gift of incredible grace, where people are laying in front of us their most humiliating, horrible mistakes, as well as their greatest triumphs. But I think over and over what the book says to me is, all of my mistakes are my own. They come from being in a fallen world, being a natural man, being fallible. All of my successes I owe to Jesus Christ. It's a repetitive messaging stream. And so if we want to take something powerful away from that book, I agree. We have to orient ourselves towards the hero of the book. The person who, over and over, prophets are saying, this was my redemptive path forward. People are saying, this was my redemptive path out of oppression. It's always Jesus Christ.

(27:04-28:13) Patrick Mason: Yeah. And when you think about the book overall, this is a book that starts with attempted murder, very quickly goes to a beheading, and ends in not one, but two genocides. And the only moments of peace are, and there are, but… Powerful moments. powerful moments, incredible moments, but it's moments when people turn to the hero, right? Because they realize that their own, you know, if they do things the same old way, right? If they keep following in those same cycles, then it's going to end badly. And it does end badly because they they don't escape those things except for these moments in between where they do find redemption. And it's not just… What I love about the Book of Mormon, it's another testament of Jesus Christ, but it's teaching that that redemption doesn't just come after you die in the next life, right? It is trying to tell us, you can find redemption, salvation, liberation, deliverance, peace now, and you can do that through Jesus Christ. Actual societies, Individuals can do this, families can do it, communities can do it, nations can do it, if they ground themselves in Christ.

(28:13-28:40) Jennifer Thomas: And they're beautiful examples of when they all do it together and they build Zion, but they're also examples of when incredible conflict, they find peace alone. or they find peace in a small community, right? And so it doesn't have to be optimal for us to find peace. I love the way you talked about that at the beginning of this conversation, Emma, that what peace means for you is the ability to find it in not always the most optimal moments, right?

(28:40-29:39) Emma Addams: So we've established that I'm obsessed with the intersection of the philosophical and the practical. So I've got Patrick Mason here in the room with me, who studies peace at a university. You teach students about this. So I want to know from you, how do you put this to work? As you're studying the Book of Mormon, how does it actually make you a better peacemaker? Where does the rubber meet the road here? What are some of the things that you feel like we can, as we're studying it? Because it's so important to me. I teach Sunday school, right? So this is also my frame as well. Every time I teach a Sunday school lesson, I spend all this time thinking about what are the people in the room right here, what can I lead us this discussion towards that will help them leave, that that week when they read this book, they will find the personalized answers that they need. I don't think I'm going to give them that. I'm trying to help inspire them and give them skills, perhaps, or lead them towards skills and ideas. So how do you see the Book of Mormon as a book of practical application? for your lens of peace building?

(29:39-31:33) Patrick Mason: Yeah, that's a fantastic question. And for me, it's kind of what we were just talking about. I've recognized that at whatever level, whether at the international level or the personal level, that the principles that make for peace are gonna be the things that I've been learning since I was a Sunbeam, since I was reading the Book of Mormon, the little comic book version. In some ways, there is a way that we can get really sophisticated about the way that we talk about peace. There is an entire academic field, and people dedicate their lives to this. But in some ways, it's also really simple. And it's interesting to me the way that Jesus says that, you know, blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be the children of God. Well, I've been singing, I'm a child of God, since I was three years old. And so there's one way that I just am a child of God, but if I really want to become a child of God in all of the ways that I can and should, it's by being a peacemaker. And it's learning those things, the lessons that I've learned from the Book of Mormon from the very beginning about kindness, about seeing the humanity in other people. Part of it is the warning, I think, that the Book of Mormon gives me. I mean, I do read the Book of Mormon, and it shows me so many ways that things go wrong. And so it's like, I can feel myself like, ooh, I feel myself going that way. I don't want to go there, because I know where it leads. I know where it leads. And so there's both the kind of negative stories and then the positive stories. So I have something to strive towards. I mean, I think about, for me, the anti-Nephi-Lehi, fourth Nephi, and then, of course, Jesus himself. It gives me this vision, this set of ideals, this set of principles that I can strive toward, as well as a bunch of cautionary tales.

(31:33-31:51) Emma Addams: So if I could just pull out one thing you said about how what we see as a simple principle that we hold to be true is that we see each other as children of God. And I loved what you said, and I think the fact that if you stop doing that, then bad things happen all the way around.

(31:51-32:44) Patrick Mason: Exactly. If I see somebody not as a child of God, but as a Lamanite, or as a Gadianton robber, or as a X, Y, or Z, as somebody who stole my rightful birthright to rulership, or all the different ways in the Book of Mormon that the people see each other as things, as objects, as enemies, as something less than human, right? So then I see the patterns that happen from that, as opposed to these remarkable moments, like the Sons of Mosiah, when they see the Lamanites as people, as sisters and brothers, right? How does that change things? And so again, this isn't rocket science, this is the same book that I've been reading my entire life. But when I read it with a lens towards how Jesus is inviting me to build peace, then I see these stories in an entirely new light.

(32:45-34:59) Emma Addams: That reminds me of just an experience that I had. I'm a musician, and people like musicians. I mean, we're very easy to like, especially in the church, because you can call me up or text me and be like, Emma, I'm singing in sacrament meeting in two days, and I need an accompanist. And I'm like, sure, I'll be there. Emma, can you play piano for this baptism? Yeah. My whole life, everyone's like, you're the best. Show up, play this stuff. and I start working in politics, and I'm really not everyone's favorite person anymore, because there's opinions. I've published opinion pieces, even in a nonpartisan space where we're not going one way or the other, but honestly, sometimes being nonpartisan makes people more mad, because you're not taking their side. You're trying to create a new side, and so as I have engaged in this work and become in some ways a target for people's frustration and anger as the leader of an organization that not everyone's happy with what I do and what I say. I've got so much more material to work with than I ever had. And I can't say that until my 40s I ever felt like I was treated like I was an enemy or I saw anyone else as an enemy. I'm someone who's found it very easy to love people my entire life. And in retrospect, I had a lot of people who were showing me a lot of love. And when I started to have kind of people who I think were not loving me as much, and I started to feel myself turning back upon them and doing exactly what you're saying, starting to not see them fully as children of God, then that's when the lessons started to really come more freely, and I started to really learn, and I had to do really a lot of hard work to just to love people who I felt were making themselves difficult to love. And frankly, I was difficult to love for them. And that kind of really connects back into what you're saying about the Book of Mormon is all of this negative, all this stuff that's in there that's really hard to listen to and to read is there's this deep lesson in there because we can stop ourselves from getting to that point. And it really has to go all the way back to that primary principle children of God, but it's harder than it sounds.

(34:59-35:01) Patrick Mason: Yeah, yeah, always, always.

(35:01-36:40) Jennifer Thomas: Well, and I think as people who take upon us the name of God, we have to be willing to do this work. Right? And I think we're looking around us in the world, and it's very clear that people are not inclined to step up and do this work. It is really hard. It's easier to see people as an enemy in the environment in which we live than it is to see people as a friend. And so one of the things that I'm very excited about reading the Book of Mormon this year through this lens is I'm hungry to be the person that the world needs right now. I want to, you know, that beautiful language in Isaiah, being the healer of the breach, right? I want to have my discipleship show in a way that demonstrates to the world that I am willing to do the hard work of being a peacemaker, that I'm willing to see in people their divine potential, that I'm willing to kind of put aside my own prejudices, that I'm willing to just do this work. But at the same time that I have this willingness in my heart, the heart is willing, the flesh is weak, right? When faced with the day-to-day problems of that, it's sometimes hard to know how to proceed. And for me personally, that is where the Book of Mormon has come into play. It just, like we've all said a little bit, it is very clearly in some critical moments been a how-to manual for me. It's almost answered a prayer of how do I proceed? How do I get out of this problem? How can I change my language? Just really specific answers to how I can be a peacemaker. And I just think that it will be exciting to hear from lots of different people who share that vision.

(36:40-37:03) Patrick Mason: Yeah, so I can't wait for the conversation to continue. But as we wrap up this episode, Emma, we want to ask you a question that we're going to ask all of our guests throughout the season. You've talked about the incredible work that you do making peace and bringing peace into the world. What are one or two ways or places that you find peace?

(37:04-38:19) Emma Addams: So the easiest answer for me is at the piano because I'm a musician and that's where I feel the most home. I sit down at the piano, I set those keys, I get to engage in a creative process. It's a very personal and spiritual endeavor for me. I think another place that I feel peace, which I never would have said even a couple years At this moment in time, my family scripture study is a place of peace with my children. And kind of going back to the beginning, how we talked about how these things are kind of hard won, it is a peaceful point for me in my life right now because it hasn't always been. We've had, I mean, decade plus where I felt like it was a little bit of a battle. And so the sweetness of the current state that my family is in, the sweetness of the willingness that my children are currently showing, is the contrast with a very long period of unwillingness, and it's short, and it's beautiful, and we just started the Book of Mormon together as a family this week, and my youngest is entering young men's, and he got out his scriptures, and he put them by his bed, and he says there's something about, this is the first time he showed on his own desire to do it, and I just, it's indescribable. It's just the most wonderful feeling in the world.

(38:19-38:22) Patrick Mason: That's phenomenal. Thank you so much for being with us.

(38:22-38:26) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for having me.

(38:26-38:27) Patrick Mason: Thanks, Emma.

(38:51-39:06) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for listening to Proclaim Peace, a proud member of the Faith Matters Podcast Network. Faith Matters holds expansive conversations about the restored gospel to accompany individuals on their journey of faith. You can learn more about Faith Matters and check out our other shows at faithmatters.org.



 

transcript, podcast episode, Proclaim Peace podcast, Book of Mormon for Peacemakers, relationships, work, political setting, family, ward, community, struggling, flailing, anxiety, social media, epidemic of loneliness, political polarization, first cause, decrease of peace, children of God, lights going out, blessed, unprecedented peace and security, headlines, disease, suffering, MWEG, faith-based nonprofit organization, ethical governance, peacemaking, polarized environment, reframing, politics, significant event, President Nelson, April conference, 2023, personal call to act.,prophetic call, world, organization, women, peacemakers, prophetic, reading, talk, living prophets, peace builders, healers, scriptures, leaders, Book of Mormon, peace-building, peacemaking, intuitive, native understanding, impact, define, peace, politics, creative endeavor, member organization, success, principles, conversation, meeting, hostile, political spectrum, de-escalates, disarms, skills, family, marriage, children, work, Thich Nhat Hanh, breathing, academic, teaching, students, concepts, breathing, podcast, voices, scriptures, peacemaking, conflict, faith, Book of Mormon, principles, peace builders, philosophical, practical, ideas, impact, life,love, disciple, principles of peacemaking, Book of Mormon, peacemaking, Book of Mormon, peacemakers, examples, hero, Christ, book, attempted murder, beheading, genocides, peace, peace, principles, learning, Book of Mormon, peacemakers, transcript, podcast episode, call, text, accompanist, willingness, peacemaker, divine potential, prejudices, Book of Mormon

Back to Proclaim Peace Episodes