I hate snakes. In any shape or size, each strikes a raw nerve deep inside me. No matter how I try to somehow tolerate them, I come back to the same point; I hate snakes. For years I thought it was fear. Given the number of snakes my father and siblings had as pets, you would think that I could at least tolerate them. I know I tried to develop a sense of tolerance. In every attempt, I failed. With every fiber of my being, I intensely, passionately, and thoroughly dislike snakes.
Life likes to remind me that snakes are not always reptiles. Some are human beings. They come in many shapes and sizes. A few are young, but most are old enough to have had the chance to be something other than what they are; snakes. I wish I could say that I have risen above my feelings, developed a sense of accepting love for those that habitually strike without thinking, poison without regard to the other. I wish but the truth is something very different.
I do not understand why people need to behave like snakes. I know that they are often trapped in a pattern. I also know individuals, institutions, and at times even countries develop a cultural DNA that reveals itself through repeating patterns of actions and consequences.
Even as my emotions begin to overwhelm me, I find myself reminded of two truths.
Everyone has a little bit of a snake within her/himself. As good as we want and intend to be, reality reminds me that there are times when you and I are evil. Before I hate snakes too much, it is good to remember what lies within.
Life has a way of catching up with snakes. The job of justice is unlikely to be on your or my to-do list. Candidly, “they’re trapped, those godless countries, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread.” (Psalm 9.15) Their actions, life’s response, and Divinity will come together in time.
I cannot imagine ever liking snakes.