Will Rogers once said, "People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing." UNLV's 6'4" basketball guard, Tre'Von Willis, knows the truth of that adage. Willis was arrested last July, accused of choking his girlfriend because she was texting instead of paying attention to him. If convicted of this impetuous act, Willis could spend years behind bars. I read the Willis article and thought, Over a cell phone? Seriously?
I shouldn't be shocked. Statistics tell us that every second, acts of rage that begin with one moment of frustration end with devastating consequences.
His father was Adam, his mother, Eve. Surely the parents had spoken of life as it once was. Surely they had passed on to their eldest son principles of how their own sin had dishonored their Father. Surely.
In Genesis 4 the story unfolds. Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve, are called to sacrifice.
Cain, tiller of the earth, digs up some vegetables, while Abel, keeper of the sheep, chooses the "firstling of his flock." In other words, these brothers seek reconciliation in different ways: proud Cain by his works, and humble Abel by presenting a lamb (a metaphor of Christ). Was Cain's gift a bad one? Not really. But God knew something we readers don't see until later.
Scripture tells us the Lord was not pleased with Cain's offering. "So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell."
Why doesn't he just admit he didn't put much effort into his sacrifice, that it really didn't cost him anything special, and that, without God's control over the soil, sun and rain, he wouldn't even have had a gift? God then warns Cain to not give a foothold to his sin which desires to master him.
As objective readers, it's easy to see the foolishness of both Willis' and Cain's behavior. But we must be careful with the criticism. Haven't we all been there? Granted, it might not have been over a cell phone or a lamb, but chances are we all have that button of pride we don't want pushed. "You can't talk to me that way." "I don't have to put up with that." "Don't even think you're going to treat me like that."
In a recent "Tribune" political editorial, Donna Brazile spoke about anger used by politicians, but her words apply here, as well. "Anger is self-righteous. It overpowers all other emotions. Anger gives a person the drive to act."
It certainly worked that way for Cain. Seething over his encounter with God, he ultimately killed his brother Abel.
Still looking for an apology? Not gonna happen here.
When God asked Cain where Abel was, did Cain ask forgiveness (chance No. 2)? Hardly. His smart-aleck answer proves he had not learned his lesson.
"I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
How God didn't smack Cain with a lightning bolt from Heaven right then and there is only because of His grace. God told Cain that his brother's blood was crying to Him from the ground, ground that would no longer produce food for him. Only then does Cain cry out and ask for mercy and his wish is granted. God sends Cain to another land to live, to permanently carry the scar of his sin.
Who really suffered in the stories of Cain and Tre'Von Willis? It wasn't Abel -- he just went "home" to his Father. It wasn't the girlfriend -- she found out the character of her boyfriend before it was too late. Will Rogers knew the answer to that question. He had it right. If we don't temper our temper, our "landings" will be rough. And just like Cain and Willis, the scars we carry might be the most painful part of all.