Not getting a lot of feedback on Eusebius historical posts, so figured I should take a week or two off…
I’ve never been known as a pacifist. Besides David and Goliath, I had Guy Williams as Zorro, Condorman, Batman, and the Justice League. Maybe, it wasn’t a surprise that I wanted to be a cop before I was twenty-one. I didn’t make it at twenty-one.Thatt would wait until I was thirty-two, but I carried concealed since then, and at twenty-four, I became a Marine. So, I may look like a fighter.
Those choices were intentional. Two stories have stuck with me. In a high school party, probably fifteen years back, a girl was assaulted while a dozen or more witnesses did nothing. In another case, a woman was attacked within sight of a subway attendant, and all the attendant could think to do was make a phone call.
These two helped to clarify for me, that if there are so many who seem unable or unwilling to protect, to intervene for good, then those who are able have an even greater obligation to do so. So, I have been grateful for my time in the Marines and law enforcement, for giving me opportunities to develop the skills of boldness, initiative, and protective instinct.
This is a mindset and skill set that I desire to pass on to my children, both sons and daughters (though applied differently).
Yet, I’ve begun to notice that this mindset can quickly degrade from that of a noble warrior, into a base brawler. Example: I have learned to walk into a situation and scan for threats. I’ve also learned to walk in and take charge, to not be timid, to project being a hard target (someone not easily attacked). But this doesn’t just apply to violent crime, the same boldness and initiative that won’t tolerate a mugging also won’t take kindly to a pushy salesman or rude customer service.
And there it begins, I start to see everyone as a potential threat and thus, my learned reaction is to neutralize the threat. But… this view inherently must view the other person as an object, an enemy, someone to be overcome. It’s no surprise then that I find myself not being kind myself. In response to a perceived threat, I essentially become a threat myself.
I become grumpy to put it nicely, and if I can look at it from my Master’s perspective…I cease to be a servant. I’m no longer on his work of serving people and have become a tyrant trying to control people.
So, I wrestle when it comes to my children. How do I raise a boy or girl, who is willing to take on a giant or deliver the oppressed, but is also a turner of cheeks? Someone who will drive money changers with a whip for zeal, but not bruise a bent reed?
I don’t know, but it seems Yeshua’s example must be the key. When I think of times I became a tyrant in response to a threat or even preempting a threat, my focus was on protecting me, when Yeshua grabbed a whip and David his sling, it was because of zeal for HaShem.
Really, if all the Torah is love, then when it says not to be idle by the blood of your neighbor or to deliver the woman being assaulted, these must be acts of love. Our boldness must be to save the good, not to destroy the evil.
Somehow, I must train my children, and myself first, to love so much that boldness and protection comes out of selflessness. We must love the good so much that it’s abuse is intolerable. To walk into a situation with boldness to intervene, but not for ourselves, but for our Master.
Or something like that…