A Sicilian man wasn’t criminal, but he asked police to arrest and jail him. When local authorities refused, he entered a nearby store and swiped a pack of gum. Then he threatened the store clerk and waited for the cops to show up! His motives? He was trying to avoid spending time with his relatives on New Year;s Eve.
Some of us can relate to this guy– we’re willing to do almost anything to evade certain family members. But avoidance rarely offers lasting peace.
Fed up with his father-in-law, Jacob packed up his family and vanished without leaving a forwarding address. When Laban finally caught up with them, he scolded Jacob for leaving so suddenly, Then “Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban”(Genesis 31:36). Since his attempt to tiptoe away had failed, Jacob realized there was no way around an honest discussion of past offenses with the father of his wives.
Rehashing wrongs only intensifies our urge to escape, unless forgiveness is involved. Jacob had to forgive Laban for manipulating him relationally and in business matters. And Laban had to forget about his missing idols and the farewell party he never got to host. With their issues in the open, the two men promise not to harm each other. Instead of distancing himself, Jacob had taken a step closer to Laban, agreeing to leave his grievance in God’s hands. Laban reciprocated and asked God to be their judge.
In the end, Laban kissed his kin and blessed them. While not every family feud has a tidy resolution, there is a better chance for harmony when we stop avoiding our family issues, face the hard work of forgiveness, and call a truce with the relatives we’d rather renounce.
Jennifer Benson Schuldt (Our Daily Journey)
Family Feuds : Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family
Family Feuds is the first sustained comparative study of the place of the family in the political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Eileen Hunt Botting argues that Wollstonecraft recognized both Rousseau’s and Burke’s influential stature in late eighteenth-century debates about the family. Wollstonecraft critically identified them as philosophical and political partners in the defense of the patriarchal structure of the family, yet she used Rousseau’s conceptions of childhood education and maternal empowerment and Burke’s understanding of the family as the affective basis for political socialization as a theoretical foundation for her own egalitarian vision of the family. It is this ideal of the egalitarian family, Botting contends, that is one of the most important yet least appreciated legacies of Enlightenment political thought.