Friday, December 14, 2007

fear, lies, and consequences

I think I was in the third or fourth grade when I first recall witnessing cruelty (or at least identifying it as such). That is, this is when I first recall seeing kids act as bullies towards other kids. And I don't even recall being an object of bullying, though I suppose I might have been and don't remember the specific incident. I just remember sensing that such a thing was now possible.

So I came up with what I believed at the time was a perfect solution. That is, I began spreading word that I was being trained in karate. Now, was this true? No. But in my mind, it inured me from the the threat of attack. And, honestly, it seemed to work, at least for a time. I was afraid, and this little white lie, this idea that I might be learning to defend myself, worked.

Mind you, I didn't flaunt this knowledge. I never pretended to attack anyone to prove myself. I just started a rumor, a lie.

As time went on, people started asking me about this professed knowledge, and I demured. In fact, I made a point of saying that I was just beginning to learn, that I really didn't have anything to show them. Yet still the questions continued, and my lack of answers for them only seemed to frustrate them further.

I remember about a year or so after I started this rumor, having three of the bigger, more athletic kids corner me on the playground. One was a wrestler, one was a boxer, and one was in football. And each of them took turns taking me to the ground, maybe because they wanted to test my ability to defend myself, though I don't really recall whether they mentioned anything about that or not.

And so this lie, this little thing (in my mind at the time) that came from fear, resulted in a series of events which created even more fear. And so it was that I gradually became a wallflower, one of those painfully shy social outcasts.

I tell this story not so much because it serves as a morality play about deception (though I like to think it does that), but because memories of this have been surfacing in me as I take steps towards this whole Christian community thing. And I think it is useful to name those feelings, to be honest about their source. And to think deeply about what they say about me, about what I'm looking for from community, about what my fears and biases might be.

But on some strange, juvenile level, I also think I tell this story because there is within me a need to tell the truth. I don't know karate. I'm perhaps even shamefully unable to defend myself, if the situation called for it.


Wyldth1ng said...

You would be suprised that given a situation that needed you to defend yourself what actions you may end up performing.

I always like to consider myself a lover not fighter, but I believe the opposite maybe true. Hoefully you will never find out.

Peace to you.

more cows than people said...

i'm glad you're telling the truth.

and i don't think you are shamefully unable to defend yourself. i think as a fourth grader you defended yourself as you would today- with your mind.

though today... you'd be honest. i'm sure.

i really appreciated our conversation today.

it has me thinking about secrets and fourth grade. wow. i'll have to tell you about that someday.

Katherine E. said...

You are amazingly self-reflective, Steve. I love your posts. Going deep like this is courageous,and, I believe, creates a stronger and stronger self.

Diane said...

the truth itself can be a weapon. boy, I've felt the fear too, sometimes.

thank you