1 Kings 21: Deception – Part I
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive!
These words, often mistaken attributed to William Shakespeare, are found in the epic poem, Marmion, by Walter Scott about the Battle of Flodden that took place in 1513. The poem was published in 1808 but my mother repeated the words of this poem she had read in high school any time she found any of her brood even thinking of doing something that was not above board, open, honest and fair. The story of Naboth is one that haunted me as a child; the envy, lies and deceit go beyond anything I experienced among family and friends. But as I grew older, I began to see Naboths everywhere; and from time to time I have been Naboth myself.
Verse 4 sends a chill down our collective spine when we realize what is about to happen: Lying down on his bed, [Ahab] turned away from food and would not eat.
We were raised by parents who kept secrets on topics they did not know how to discuss or that brought pain to those already suffering too greatly; otherwise, my elders modeled honesty in every-day life whenever they could. Mother would often say, “If you are keeping something secret in order to have friends, this should tell you that there is something wrong with the people or the event you are thinking about joining”. Of course, she was correct. Secrets have a way of surfacing and when they do, their result is always irony. “You better think twice about what you are thinking of doing”. She would continue with more axioms. “Birds of a feather flock together. There is no honor among thieves”. Once when I was in the sixth grade, I told my Mother that I could not invite a particular girl in my class to my birthday slumber party. “Why not”? Mother asked. “Because’’, I answered with confidence, knowing that she would agree with me once she heard the terrible consequence that would follow, “If I do, the rest of my friends won’t come to the party. And besides, she is a little weird and gets on our nerves”. My mother turned from the stove where she was always standing, and said. “Here is what you are going to do, or else there is no party. You will invite all of these girls and when you do, you will all find something nice to say to this one you say gets on your nerves. If you were paying attention as you should be, you would realize that she is worried that you don’t like her and she doesn’t know what to do about it”. She turned back to the stove, saying over her shoulder, “And if the rest of the girls don’t come because you have invited her, they are no friends at all. They are just people who are rude and inconsiderate. They must have really had their own feelings hurt at some time, or they wouldn’t be acting this way. You would think they would know better”. And that was that. I imagined a slumber party with me and the “weird” girl, but then I knew better than to try to outmaneuver my mother. And she was right. All the girls were invited. All the girls came. We sat crossed-legged eating popcorn until small hours, making certain that this one friend felt cared for. We all survived the experience having learning something, and being better for it. As for the weird girl, my mother was right. Once she realized that we were not ostracizing her, she stopped being weird. But really, I think it was the rest of us who stopped being weird.
That was most likely the most important lesson I learned about social interaction. Mother did not name this bullying. She knew nothing of Mean Girls, or Queen Bees, or give it any other name than what it was: rudeness, a lack of consideration, the mean ostracizing of individuals or groups from a community. And my mother, growing up in a family of six sisters and one brother, would not tolerate this lack in her own children. I thank God for the careful shepherding Mother gave us as she handed us tools to handle the meanness of the world.
Tomorrow, Deception-Part II, Ahab gets his way.
For more on girls and bullying, visit: http://culturesofdignity.com/portfolio/queen-bees-and-wannabes/
For more about Naboths, vineyard, click on on the image above or visit: http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/main-articles/naboths-vineyard-1-kgs-21.aspx
Adapted from a reflection written on June 1, 2008.