I've known several willing, beguiled, and accidental lambs to the slaughter, but none have unnerved me more than one of my closest friends over the last few years. Once thought to be solely naive, and would eventually snap out of it, he hasn't in the five years I've known him. I'm not his keeper. He's not my responsibility, but it's troubling to see him stand in line, bleat, and place his exposed neck beneath the butcher's axe weekly or even daily.
I think his sacrificial tendencies have their roots in his religious upbringing. He was raised to fear God, sacrifice for his fellow man, woman, or child, and do his best to follow biblical teachings. I'm all for helping, temporarily, those who can't manage their affairs, but I draw the line at being a glutton for misplaced religious ideals and beliefs. It's not poking fun at another person's core, but an examination of how people can be lead astray for something unseen and higher. It's as if those who've come before us failed, and want to live vicariously through their books and teachings, hoping that the next generation will get it right.
I've sat or stood, mouth agape at many of the precarious situations where he'd willingly walk into the butcher's shop, perhaps thinking that time would yield different results. I used to think his blind faith was enviable, something lacking in me, something that I should strive for in my own life. My chemistry is different. I don't have the innate ability to repeatedly put myself in danger. In recent times, it has become so bad that I play peekaboo. I can't bear to look but for a few seconds and then must turn away. I lower my head into my hands, again, perhaps in silent prayer. Dear God, Almighty,what is this,Your child, doing?
Each time, and there have been numerous, that he's been tricked, he rebukes the charlatan to all high heaven. God will rain down retribution simply because someone yet again took full advantage of his lack of common sense, social skills, or deep-seeded religious beliefs. Oftentimes it has been and continues to be a wicked combination of the three. I marvel at his predicaments, other times I feel sorry. Can someone truly be that gullible and hard-headed as not to have figured out in adulthood that there are real bogeymen?
In an unconcerned manner-unaware of the impending catastrophe. This is the online definition for lambs to the slaughter. To further expound on this: to live as if you've no cares in the world, and that your family, friends, or spouse will grant you infinite do-overs despite the near-countless times you've been warned about the same foolhardy lapses in judgment and mistakes. How can you not be aware of an impending disaster if you've done that same thing or followed a similar pattern before? Are you hoping for different results with a different person? Does the hair on your arms or back of your neck not rise, alerting you to danger like Spiderman?
It's exhausting being friends with willing sacrificial lambs. I've learned recently not to scold, but remain stoic, sympathetic half-smile about my face, trying not to project across my forehead in circulating Broadway lights: No, not again. You didn't walk into the the lion's den baring gifts? You knew you'd be eaten or at least maimed? Wait for it. Braying. Rebuking. Flailing of arms. Swearing that he won't be taken advantage of, again. Wait. Flawed innocence of a child sets in, and the immediate surroundings fall silent. Each time this ritual takes place, my heart breaks less. Not out of indifference, but I can't traverse that weathered road often.
I feel guilty sometimes, but hope and pray that my friend and others like him will wake up one day and poof ... will be sharp and savvy, unable to be taken so easily. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to witness from arm's length the multitude of mishaps and avoidable snares my dear friend steps into regularly.
"Vanna, I'd like to solve the puzzle, please!"