By Barnabas Chukwukelo Ezeife
The inspiration to write this article came immediately after reading a book by Frank R.Stockson titled “THE LADY OR THE TIGER” 1882. Here I will just give a summary of the book before I continue with my write up.
There was a 'semi –barbaric' king who ruled his kingdom in different way than what we deem just and fair today. For criminals who committed significant enough crimes, he would give them a trial in an arena. The trial consisted of two doors; one door contained a fair lady who the criminal is to marry then immediately, and the other contained a blood-thirsty tiger.
The king had a beautiful, also semi-barbaric, daughter who he loved quite dearly. This daughter had secretly fallen in love with a handsome, but lowly, “courtier”, or commoner. They had been carrying out their frowned upon affair for months and sustained a very deep love until the king found out. He was outraged that some low class man was in love with his precious daughter, and sentenced this courtier to ultimate trial.
On the day of the trial, the suspense was at its peak. All eyes were fixed on the poor young man with anxious hearts. Nobody knew which door contained death, and which door contained freedom….except the princess. Through enough gold and the will of a woman, she was able to find out which door held what. She also knew that the woman who stood behind the door was a woman who has flirted with her lover in the past. She spent sleepless nights trying to decide which is worse: the insidious death of her lover, or the eternal union of her lover with a woman whom she abhorred.
The young man suspected that she would acquire the information about what lied behind the doors, but he was completely ignorant to the identity of lady who awaited. Yet with full trust in his lover, he looked to her for guidance as he nervously walked across the arena. She discretely lifted her right hand, and he acknowledged.
Stockton never revealed what actually lied behind the door on the right, and he left it up to the discretion of the reader to decide which door they thought the semi-barbaric princess chose.
Et tu, Brute is a Latin sentence meaning “ Even you, Brutus?” from the play JULIUS CAESAR, by William Shakespeare. Caesar utters these words as he is being stabbed to death, having recognized his friend Brutus among the assassins.
In this article I wish to discuss the evil of betrayal in our society. Think of all the evil in the world, think of all the bad things someone must have done to you, the worst of them all must be a betrayal by a friend, brother, sister, mother, father, relative, colleague….name them.
Betrayal is seen and experienced in every days of our life, in such a way that if you have not been betrayed before you should be grateful to your creator. Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience. To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer. It is fairly impossible for you to be betrayed if you did not trust the individual in the first place. Therefore, the definition of betrayal involves the act of someone violating your trust in them.
Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” I want to talk about this quality of betrayal that is present in evil. Anyone who has been the victim of evil has felt it, though perhaps not every victim fully understands that they have been betrayed. A vow or trust has been broken. And that is very painful, especially when it comes from a close friend or spouse or some other person who you thought loved you and was loyal to you.
Many orators, novelists, philosophers, preachers, writers, noble men and women must have talked about the evils of betrayal. And it is on the same line that Chinua Achebe in his 'Things Fall Apart' portrays Okonkwo as a betrayer where Ikemefuna out of trust ran to Okonkwo whom he took as a father for refuge and Okonkwo instead of being a father betrayed the trust the young boy had on him. We can also see that in Naguib Mahfouz 'The thief and the Dog' where the protagonist by name Said Mahron in the novel plays the role of a betrayer and the examples can be multiplied.
That very word betrayal has so many synonyms in English language: traitor, treachery, sabotage, treason and even gained so many nicknames for itself like; sabo, onyeimi and so on.
The scripture are full of stories of betrayal, the terrible harm it causes, and the scorn reserved for such wicked people. The lord will see to it that each traitor is punished, as he always has throughout history. IF A MAN PAYS BACK EVIL FOR GOOD, EVIL WILL NEVER LEAVE HIS HOUSE….Proverbs 17:13. David in his psalm 55 understood this well “ If an enemy were insulting me I could endure it, if a foe were raising himself against me I could hide from him…but it is you a man like myself, my companion, my close friend” [psalm 55vs12-13]
Most of us find it far too exhausting and draining to be constantly on ground around whom we know to be untrustworthy, deceitful or dishonorable. My personal opinion is that such people are dangerous and will always be dangerous, and the only way to be safe is to stay as far away from them as possible. This is precisely the type of situation referred to in the Bible, when we are taught to have nothing to do with someone who will not repent after being rebuked. [Titus 3:10, Mathew 18:15-17, 2 Timothy 3:4-5]. The lord instructs us to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm.
Betrayal comes in many forms, and in all shapes and sizes. Here are some examples of treachery and disloyalty that we do experience in our day to day lives.
BADMOUTHING YOU OR GOSSIPING ABOUT YOU TO OTHERS, LYING ABOUT YOU, LYING TO YOU, DECEIVING YOU, AND MISLEADING YOU. REVEALING A SECRET, TURNING SOMEONE AGAINST YOU, SABOTAGING A JOB OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU, SABOTAGING ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU, TAKING AN ENEMY'S SIDE AGAINST YOU, REVEALING PERSONAL INFORMATION, STEALING SOMEONE'S MONEY; FRIEND, BOYFRIEND, HUSBAND ETC., TRYING TO INFLUENCE ONE TO DO ANYTHING THAT WILL BE TO HIS OWN DETRIMENT, DISRESPECTING ONE'S PRIVACY, SPYING ON SOMEONE, FALSELY ACCUSING SOMEONE, EXPLOITING SOMEONE. These are just some examples of back-stabbing behavior. There are many more examples out there.
I will conclude this article with the words of WesFessler who said that “Trust is not established in the absence of betrayal, but in those whose betrayal is least”. Therefore my advice to all is not to remove 'trust' totally in our dictionary of life but as my growing up years popular English cliché suggests “Trust but not too much”. And to you who find happiness in back-biting others kindly remember the words of Prov.19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape”. In some other place it says “ woe to you, o destroyer, while you were not destroyed; and he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him as soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; as soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you”. [Isaiah 33:1]. This is the lord speaking to us through the Bible verses and he made these promises to every one of us who finds it fun to betray, sabotage and back-bite others. And this is evident of the truth, after all Christ said “woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed, it would have been good for that man if he had not been born” and after everything, the question is: where did he [Judas] end up? We all know the answer. Also Okonkwo in the 'Things fall apart' we all know how he equally ended up.
“Anyone who hasn't experienced the ecstasy of betrayal knows nothing about ecstasy at all” Jean Genet. Therefore, to all who have been victims, I have a word for you which is'look closer to Jesus'. If we need inspiration to get over a betrayal, the best we can do is to look at Jesus. Betrayed by Judas, by his people, and hung on a cross to die…..that's some significant betrayal right? Yet he turned and told God “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. He did not look upon those who betrayed him with hatred in his heart, but with forgiveness. He let go of that hurt and pain and showed us that we can love even those who seek our harm. If we strive to be like Jesus, he is our ultimate inspiration in getting over a betrayal. REMEMBER…… EVEN WHEN YOU TRY TO FORGIVE AND TRUST AGAIN, DON'T TRUST TOO MUCH.
Barnabas Chukwukelo Ezeife writes from Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu