Thursday, January 13, 2011

4th Century Preaching - Advice for Bullies

One of my all time favorite movie quotes comes from A Bronx Tale, a 1993 movie about a young boy who gets involved in the workings of the street life in the Bronx.  I don't remember too many details about the movie, except for this quote.

Is it better to be loved or feared? That's a good question. It's great to be both, but it's very difficult. But if I had my choice, I would rather be feared. Fear lasts longer than love.
Now this quote was from a mobster, not exactly a profession that touts virtuous behaviour, but I have noticed in my almost 41 years of life that this seems to be a common mode of existence for some people.  I've known bosses, neighbors, even "friends" that have embraced this modus operandi.  They would rather be feared than loved, so they bully and threaten which then forces you to walk on eggshells 24/7 hoping not to anger them.   Probably the worst situation for this is in a marriage.  Here's what St. John Chrysostom says in Excerpt 74 from On Living Simply:

Those who treat their servants harshly, instilling fear into them with angry words and threats, may succeed om compelling their servants to work hard; but servants feel no attachment to their masters, and at the first opportunity run away.  How much worse is it for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.  Yet many men frequently try to intimidate their wives.  They lift up their voices and shout; they demand instant compliance to their every whim; they even raise their arms to force their wives to submit.  Wives treated in this fashion become no more than sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear.  Is this the kind of woman you want?  Does it really satisfy you to have a wife that is petrified of you?  Of course not.  Indulging your ill-temper at the expense of your wife may give some immediate relief to your emotions; but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure.  Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you.
You know, you read this and say to yourself...yeah he's right, but then you move onto other things and forget the words.  However, if this was spoken to you, with vocal inflections and facial expressions, how much more powerful are these words?  I wonder how many people stomped out of church after hearing this preached?  And I wonder how many women sighed with relief to know that their situation had not gone unnoticed and were reassured through St. John's words that God cares for their well-being?


Mr. Mafioso said...

Actually Sonny said: "Fear lasts longer than love... it's fear that keeps them loyal."
He was right.

Desert Dweller said...

Curse you!

Thanks for the correction Mr. Mafioso.