Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Hurt You, I’ll Hurt Me. So There!

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12:20-21

How strange it was to learn in January, 2012, that Terry Thompson, the owner of the Muskingum County Animal Farm in Zanesville, Ohio, had released 56 exotic, wild beasts from their cages, and that he had then taken his own life. Sheriff's deputies, armed with high-powered rifles, shot nearly 50 of them — including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions — in a big-game hunt across the state's countryside, as homeowners nervously hid indoors.

After an all-night effort that extended into Wednesday afternoon, 48 animals were killed. Six others — three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys — were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo. A wolf was later found dead, leaving a monkey as the only animal still on the loose. Those destroyed included six black bears, two grizzlies, a wolf, a baboon and three mountain lions. Dead animals were being buried on Thompson's farm.

The 62-year-old Thompson had reportedly had repeated run-ins with neighbors and with the police. In fact, just three weeks earlier, he had been freed from jail for possessing unregistered guns. Apparently he thought he had a score to settle. The Associated Press report said that Thompson threw the cages open and shot himself to death “in what may have been one last act of spite against his neighbors and police.”

Spite is defined as, “A desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone; malicious ill will prompting an urge to hurt or humiliate.” Like the word “despite,” It is derived from the Old French despit, from the Latin dēspectus for contempt. Whoever Thompson thought he was spiting, whether the authorities or his neighbors, it was he who suffered most. He’s dead.

When I decide that I will strike back at someone who has wronged me by feeding myself anger, hatred, and vengeance, I am the one who suffers. I’m doing it to myself. He or she may be happy, peaceful, and even unaware of the pain I am trying to inflict.

When I cut back my church involvement, worship, or giving, because of what someone said or did to me, I am cheating myself of opportunities to grow and serve. I’m hurting my own faith. I’m depriving myself of joy. The only one who is truly happy as a result is the devil.

I can hurt my boss by complaining, gossiping, and wasting time on the job. I can hurt my spouse by bickering, leaving a mess on the floor, or yelling at the kids. I can hurt people that do not like me by being rude, arrogant, and mean. I can hurt drivers who cut me off by honking, screaming, and tailgating. When I do I inflict scars and wounds on my own soul.

The flip side is just as true. When I help others, I actually help myself. I’ll try it! Why don’t you, too?

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