An excerpt from “Humbling and Humility“
Sid greeted the gathered bunch of morose men in one of the small windowless session rooms. The room had chairs around three sides, a large whiteboard on one wall, with a door in a corner and a television set in the other corner. Sid asked that we begin introducing ourselves, providing some background of our origin, and the sorry circumstances that brought us into his counseling program.
Levi hailed from the state of Israel. A tall, lanky, dark haired, olive complexioned young feller, identifiably Middle Eastern, who seemed somewhat reticent and subdued, and yet talked forcefully. Married into a Middle Eastern family in America, he fought with his wife, fell afoul of the law, and with us in counseling. Tony was a short, Hispanic, older man hailing from just south of the border, from Mexico. He was sent to the program for beating his teenage son. Fred, a friendly middle-aged Caucasian, was kicked out of his home, with his guns, after his wife closed a garage door on his hand, leading to many unflattering words and strong disagreement. I introduced myself briefly as one coming from the other side of the globe, India, and in the program for ungentlemanly behavior with my spouse. There were some more in the group whose names and situations did not register in my mind.
Our group was small, to begin with, though quite diverse, and lacking in enthusiasm. No one expected anything interesting out of our sessions ahead.
Sid began a discussion with his description of what he believed to be an expression of freedom protected in American society. “I am married, but my wife can sleep with anyone she wants to, and I can sleep with anyone I want to.”
Smiles of disbelief from all group members.
“What would you do if you came into your house and saw your wife with another man in bed?” asked Sid.
“Kill her,” said Levi, with an immediacy that surprised us.
Fred cheerfully agreed, “Yes, you can!”
A good few in the group objected to this blatant disregard for life or typical norms of civil society.
Levi persisted in his extreme position. “Kill her, I’d say.”
Fred laughed. “Yes, you can. But you’d have to be clever about it; claim that you saw a man attacking your wife in bed, got your gun, and shot at him to protect your wife. Shoot multiple times, and tragically, kill them both.”
Clearly, Fred had been around guns for long, and perhaps had some experience using them with impunity. The candidate for a vice presidential post, who shot a lawyer and campaign contributor under the assumption that the lawyer was prey hiding in the bush (which, you may agree, is an assumption well worth forgiving), came to my mind. The conversation swiftly descended into disagreement, with a good few in the group opposing this judge-jury-executioner approach. Yet something about Fred’s proposed actions rang a bell, resonated in the mind. I couldn’t put my finger on it then. Sid was at a complete loss for words.
Levi clarified further. “See, I am from Israel, of Palestinian origin. It’s a democracy there too. But that is what I’d do.”
Sid diverted the discussion on to formalities for our sessions, the responsibilities and expectations of participants, etc., and occupied the rest of the session in such matters.
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