We can be our own worst enemy?

I was flipping through the TV channels the other evening looking for something interesting. I ran across a minister who was telling an interesting story.

As I recall, the minister’s name was McDonald. He was telling about these two brothers several hundred years ago. They were in the royal family in France. As the story went, the older brother eventually inherited the throne. In the interest of brevity, I will skip parts of the story, especially as some parts may be more my impressions than factual.

It also eventually happened that the younger brother managed to depose his older brother and capture the throne for himself. I suppose one might assume that such were many a dispute between zealous siblings raised in or near the seat of wealth and power. The new ruler, however, did not kill his newly deposed brother. He merely put him in a room to live. As it also happened the now deposed king had enjoyed his reign, especially as it gave him easy access to many a delicious plate. In short he was quite obese.

The room in which he was quartered had a door, which had been made so narrow that he could not pass through it with his large bulging frame. His younger brother, the new king, made sure his deposed brother was supplied and tempted with as much rich food as he desired. That apparently, kept him in his place.

If the new king was asked where he kept his brother prisoner, he replied that his brother was not a prisoner. He said his brother lived in his own unlocked room in the palace, and was free to leave whenever he wished. While he was truthful in his reply, he failed to explain that his brother was kept a prisoner of his own gluttony. His freedom depended on his ability to avoid the rich food he was given, and lose enough weight to allow him to get through the door of his room.

It reminded me of when I was a small child, I recall dreaming of a huge piece of chocolate the size of a farmers barn. Leaning against it was an ax. Any time I wanted a piece of chocolate I just took the ax, chopped off a piece and walked away eating it. I hardly ever made a dent in it. I guess if one is going to dream, one might as well dream big.

The deposing king’s story points out how many of us (including myself) are, or have been, prisoners of our habits, addictions, hang-ups, prejudices, and other miscellaneous stupid ideas that keep us from bringing into reality the better parts of life that we have been born to enjoy. If you want to blame your problems, or failures, on some evil spirit, be my guest. That’s an easy, but nonproductive, way out that solves nothing, not even an escape. I blame mine on my own careless ignorance, but it at least leaves me a way out … if I try. The only spirit I must conquer is my own.

What it comes down to, at least in my mind, is that we are not lured into evil by anything but our own ignorance in looking for a shortcut, or some easy way to our own satisfaction. Sometimes we even unwittingly back ourselves into a desperate corner with no possible way out.

Robbing a bank may get you some money for a time, but it will not get you happiness. If you cannot be trusted, you can hardly trust, and trust is necessary to happiness. We have for centuries been warned to avoid pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These are the hungers that lead to the self-imprisonment of a too narrow doorway as in the above story. We seem to collectively cause our own struggles. May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com