Human Predators & Innocents

herod the great

Today – December 28, 2019 – is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, when we remember Herod’s order to slaughter all Bethlehem’s males aged two and under. His aim was to kill a potential rival — the Messiah — but Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were already fleeing to Egypt.  

I think of Herod. His life testified to power’s dehumanization. He knew he was unpopular because he was the Roman Empire’s favored buck, a half-Jew, and indifferent to religion. So he bought into the leadership theory of Ivan The Terrible, Joseph Stalin, and Idi Amin and headed off suspected plots via strategic murder. He killed his wife, his brother, and his sister’s two husbands. Slaughter was policy. Butchery was a management technique. Carnage was protocol.  

My guess: Herod stared with a vacant gaze. He knew nothing of friendship; all relationships were transactional; a given man or woman or child was as valuable as a potted plant. Today’s pal might be tomorrow’s enemy, so smile with a sharpened sword.  

The world is filled with lesser Herods. Some billionaires link up with their latest trophy wives and beam with pride over their quashed competitors. Tyrannical bosses think nothing of ruining careers and families. They smile with their lips but not with their eyes. Perhaps they know momentary happiness, but their humanity shriveled while their wealth mounted and they cannot experience genuine joy. They may even view it as a weakness.  

Our dark side secretly envies such people – if, for no other reason, than they get away with it – but watch their eyes next time. You’ll see their empty smiles and the predator’s gaze.

That’s the terrible price of toxic power. Even children threaten as potential enemies.  

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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