Another cup of freedom, please

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

Mornings are the times to take a moment, drink a cup of coffee and think a little deeper.

I’ve been going through the book of Proverbs in the Bible, trying to be a wiser person.

In chapter six of Proverbs, we are first told to avoid getting trapped by other people’s debt problems. “Make yourself free,” is how it describes that process.

After that, it’s about freedom from poverty. The basic idea is not being lazy. Being “free” in this ancient sense of the term is a positive thing, but it starts when you avoid the negatives, the traps life sets in front of you.

Coffee in hand, I’m learning about the next trap and how to get out of it:

“A good-for-nothing man is an evil-doer; he goes on his way causing trouble (or, he causes trouble as a way of living) with false words; Making signs with his eyes, rubbing with his feet, and giving news with his fingers; His mind is ever designing evil; he lets loose violent acts (or sows discord). For this cause his downfall will be sudden; quickly he will be broken, and there will be no help for him.” Proverbs 6:12-15.

Solomon, the world’s wisest man, wrote this book of the Bible and here sets a very high standard (or low standard. It depends on how you look at it) for judging a person as evil and worthless. This is a good thing when you think about it. It frees us to discuss issues without going to those labels when we don’t have to. Ideas can be bad, even if the person is not. If we struggle with feelings of self-worth, it is a delight to know what it means to truly have none.

The picture here is striking. This man is sitting at a table, hiding his background as a swindler. While he talks, he uses certain gestures to signal his partners in a well thought out scheme. He’s good at this. He has spent time and mental energy to get it right. He works with a network of like-minded people. He even knows how to get his victims to suspect each other so they miss the real danger sitting in front of them. When his doom comes we don’t know, but it’s sudden and final when it does. Man is that good to know.

So we know these kinds of people do exist. That is good. We also know how they work and their sorry fate. We may not be able to see through all the tricks, but we now know enough not to join them or learn their ways. There is freedom in that. Don’t do evil to get what you want or to get your point across. Adam and Eve could tell us as much. It’s not worth it. That is Solomon’s point too. Also, don’t label someone as evil, or accept that label from others, when you just disagree. That is also a trap to avoid. Save that label for those who deserve it. I guess this means I must accept that label in myself if I find I am descending to that level. Hmm.

I foresee several “discussions” coming up today. These will be with those I love, that I am committed to. Good people. We have a bond I want to keep strong, but there are things to talk about.

I think they will go better today.

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This story was posted on March 7, 2013.