How to Handle a Hostile Civilian

1-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

The sailors who come to WTP Sembach agree that civilians appreciate our sacrifices. When they say, “Thank you for your service,” they mean it. But what do we make of the small numbers who attack us?

What Do You Do When Someone Disrespects You-

Fear Hinders Advancement

People who hate service members like to get into your face. Such disrespect shows can’t reason with them. But if you understand one of their motivations, you can learn to ignore them. Parshas Toldos explains:

“And Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us for you have become much mightier than we!’” (Bereshis/Genesis 26:16)

A famine forced Isaac to go live in Abimelech’s kingdom in Gerar. There his wealth increased a hundredfold. He bought huge flocks of sheep and goats. He acquired many businesses. As a result, the Philistines chose to envy him.

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They didn't have to be jealous. They could have learned from Isaac. Had they adopted his practices or faith, G-d might have enriched them too. Fear caused them to overlook the path to a better life.

Fight Your Anger with Pity

Watching a movie or TV show that portrayed actual military life would bore most people to tears. So unless you’re in it, you don't know what it's like. Nonetheless, most civilians choose to treat us respectfully. They may be atoning for the way Vietnam veterans were treated. We still benefit.

For a minority of civilians, the unknown creates fear. They know what we do is hard. Sometimes it’s dangerous. They can’t do what we do. Rather than learning about our work, they treat us like Abimelech treated Isaac. “Go away!” Without saying we’re mightier than them, they expose their weakness. Their attacks have nothing to do with us. They’re an expression of self-doubt.

Instead of getting angry, consider how sad these people are. Too afraid to learn something new, they lash out. We’ve never hurt them. But they seek to demean us and our service. We should pity them. Like the Philistines, fear has caused them to overlook the path to a better life. From that perspective, you can ignore them.

Has a civilian accosted you?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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