The Procrastinator and the Tattler

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(This is an excerpt from the chapter "'Have a Great Summer!"" in the book Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon.)

“And now I, Amaron, write the things whatsoever I write, which are few, in the book of my father” (Omni 1:4).

We know even less about Amaron and his brother Chemish than we know about Omni, though we can guess that their home life probably didn’t include much spirituality (after all, I suspect Omni probably didn’t conduct family home evening very often). Even still, Amaron manages to write a few verses that at least have the semblance of spirituality. He tells us that “the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed” (Omni 1:5), and that it was due to their failure to keep the commandments of God. I have often wondered if perhaps Omni was part of that “more wicked part” of the Nephites who were destroyed, and if the death of his father was what prompted Amaron to write his few verses.

Amaron also tells us that the righteous were spared and that the Lord “did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies” (Omni 1:7). I think we can agree that’s a lesson worth writing down. And the fact that Amaron was alive to write on the plates at all might suggest he was righteous enough to be spared, so maybe he should get a pass. Or should he?

After having possession of the plates, Amaron gives them to Chemish, who writes a grand total of one verse. In his verse, Chemish notes the following about his brother: “I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand; and he wrote it in the day that he delivered them unto me” (Omni 1:9). In other words, Amaron procrastinated until the very last second before writing anything on the plates—thirty-eight years later!

I think we’re all guilty at times of being like Amaron, wanting to do the very least we can get away with and still be “okay.” Or perhaps—much more dangerously—we feel we ought to repent, but we’ll “get around to it” eventually. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing now,” we might think, “and then I can always repent before I go on my mission, or get married in the temple, or whenever.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke about this line of thinking when he said, “One of the most cruel games anyone can play with self is the ‘not yet’ game—hoping to sin just a bit more before ceasing; to enjoy the praise of the world a little longer before turning away from the applause; . . . to be chaste, but not yet; to be good neighbors, but not now.”

President Thomas S. Monson also warned of the dangers of procrastination:

Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it . . . .

There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today, and to live most fully today, we must do that which is of greatest importance. Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most.

As for Chemish, I personally find him to be both sad and a little hilarious because he seems to mostly be interested in ratting out his brother. I can practically hear him laughing to himself and thinking, “Whoever reads this from here on out will know how lazy my brother was.” (I wonder if he thought anyone would be laughing at him later on!) Chemish finishes his pitiful verse by saying, “And after this manner we keep the records, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers. And I make an end” (Omni 1:9). It’s bad enough that Amaron waited so long to say so little, but Chemish wrote what amounted to a casual and hollow “Have a great summer!” He may have been trying to make sure that we remembered his brother as being a procrastinator, but Chemish also succeeded in making sure we remember him as being nearly nonexistent!

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