Match Tips, Cortizone, and Human Nature

Last Tuesday I woke up slowly.  It was one of those mornings that begin with a prolonged, thoughtless inspection of my ceiling.  As the fog of the night’s dream cleared from my mind, I realized that a strange noise had roused me from sleep.  I crawled to the edge of my bed, peered over, and the noise suddenly stopped.  I was looking into two big, brown, Border Collie eyes.  I smiled as I studied the impossibly endearing expression on our dog’s face.  Then I noticed it.  A tube of Cortizone lay decimated on the floor, dotted with the evidence of small teeth, empty.

Only a week prior she managed to sneak a book of matches from our table and eat the tip off of each individual match.  We had panicked, like good parents always do, and quickly sought the incontrovertible wisdom of webland.  Apparently we were not the first dog owners to face this problem. Phosphorus holds a sort of deep-magic sway over the four legged friends of man; calling to them like the song of a siren, prepared to wreck havoc on their digestive systems.

Looking at the Cortizone and thinking of the matches, I was reminded of human nature.  Just like dogs to match tips, we seem compelled to chase after things that end up damaging us.  There are probably many reasons for this (pride, carelessness, frustration, depression, ignorance), but what ultimately causes us to long for the harmful?  How do we confront these issues? Let’s go with ignorance:

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Prov. 14:12)

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)

The implications of these thoughts are enormous.  If the seemingly “right” path can be dead wrong (forgive the pun), and our own hearts deceive us, what are we to do?

Our only recourse is humility.   We should value it, talk about it, and apply it in every area of our lives.  Humility demands that our theology, families, business practices, parenting styles, relationships, and appetites be accompanied by a readiness to change, to hear other points of view, and maybe even submit to authority (certainly not the most popular idea).

What do you think?  Is ignorance the legitimate birth mother of our self destructive tendencies or an unfounded cop-out?

Why do you think we are attracted to the things that hurt us and how do we address this attraction?

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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  • Tommy O’Brien

    Ok… those matches look like french fries. Maybe your dog got confused?

    I would say that in this case… it takes a village to raise…destructive tendencies and unfounded cop-outs lol. You can’t just call it ignorance. Take, for example, someone that looks at a huge helping of biscuits and gravy… knowing full well that they are allergic to it, but dives right in becuase they want the num nums. Would one call this ignorant? Or does our sense of balance get swayed by our senses?

    There are times when our “dog” instincts take over and we are left to the ignorant choices of the heart. But just as many times, we as humans will pick up that cell phone while driving in California… we know the concequences… but our better judgment is swayed by the circumstances.