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“The Devil Made Me Do It”

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

Hello, everyone.

Back in the early 70s, Black comedian Flip Wilson made the phrase “the devil made me do it” a byword in this country.  If anyone needed an alibi for something he said or something he did, he had the perfect one in Wilson’s phrase.  Only God knows how much and for what the devil received the blame.

This phrase crossed my mind the other day, thanks to a Facebook comment I received.  Here is the last sentence of the e-mail:  “With this message I am unfriending you on FaceBook and hope to never hear another word from you again.”

What prompted this outburst?  Did I say anything unkind to him?  Did I smear his family or his reputation?  Did I try to start a flame war with him?  No.  My sin was that in a couple of comments and statuses, I expressed unhappiness with Amtrak and a dissatisfaction with Barak Obama and the job he was doing.

Or consider this.  Back from February, 1972, until June, 1974, I taught at a private Christian boarding high school in Iowa.  Around 2 ½ years ago, I got reconnected with a former student of mine on Facebook.  I liked this girl very much and we were fairly close at the school.  She seemed quite happy that we got reconnected, and we used to do long back-and-forths on Facebook.  But now she has nothing to do with me.  My sin?  I am not a Barak Obama worshiper.  Indeed, we had a rather acrimonious exchange on FB the other day.

This has really eaten at me for the past few days.  No one wants to lose a friend or family member?  What happened to these people?

The answer is not all that difficult.  In September of last year, I took a month-long trip on Amtrak around the country.  I had experiences and saw things that changed my life and my thinking completely.   And I no longer bought the Liberal bill of goods.

I will contrast this with a couple of my cousins.  They are both fine women with fine families.  And they are all Conservatives.  Before my epiphany last September, I was a firebrand Liberal.  I devoured the Crooks & Liars and Daily Kos websites and flooded Facebook with statuses where I posted articles from the sites.  While I was enjoying the friendship of my former student, I was hurting a lot of people who were dear to me.  But my trip saved those relationships, and now I have a relationship with a dear cousin in Texas that I would never allow anything to harm.

Consider both situations – the people who want nothing to do with me because I am not an Obama worshiper, and the people whom I hurt deeply, but still love and accept me because I am family.  Were they acts of free will?  Or to quote Flip Wilson, did “the devil make them do it”?  I would say yes.

To be sure, there are reactions that we have no control over.  Someone who has been in combat will react to sounds like a balloon popping, a car backfiring, or Fourth of July fireworks.  He is reacting out of his experiences.  Some reactions are inborn and we cannot control them.  While some boys carry insects and worms in their pockets, I loathed and detested them and wanted nothing to do with them, and I still feel that way.  People hate alcohol because they know of the harm that it can do to people and families.  And still others hate loud noises and react accordingly.  I was that way as a child, and I still am.

But there are other reactions that we CAN control.  Those are the ones that “the devil makes us do.”  My cousins could have disowned me, and now I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had.  But my cousin Nikki in particular has been most gracious.  She has never held all of my “before” actions against me, so far as I know, and she has welcomed me into her home, and even introduced me to some wonderful people who accept me, warts and all.  This was an act of will on her part and “the devil” – in her case, God – “made” her do it.

As for the Obama worshipers who no longer want anything to do with me, that also is an act of will, and “the devil” is making them do it.  One of the lubricants that make the machine of human relationships run smoothly is that of agreeing to disagree.  This concept does not declare that someone is right and the other person is wrong; it simply means that two people can disagree on a particular point, but that that disagreement is not great enough to rupture the relationship.  Or it means that the relationship is so important to the two people involved that no disagreement or anything else is going to be allowed to destroy that relationship.

In my exchange with my former student yesterday, a couple of times I made the statement that Barak Obama is not worth destroying a friendship over.  She never responded to that, either time.  Thus, I am beginning to deal with the fact that the relationship and friendship are both gone.  If so, that is an act of will on her part, and she is to be pitied because her world does not allow any dissention from the party line.  All of us are like that, to a degree, but most of us think that there are other things that matter more, and we are able to exercise our will to not let something that is important to us be damaged or destroyed by inconsequentials.

So yes, “the devil made me do it.”  And that can work for both good and bad.

Have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

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July 23, 2015 - Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion |

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