Siloam Springs Herald Leader

Tangled in the barbed wire world

- Doug Chastain Random Recollecti­ons

I was cutting firewood on a fence line at Camp Siloam a while back. It was a sunny day, cold, but not too uncomforta­ble. The kind of day when I like to get out in the environmen­t and get a little exercise.

I remember, as I was cutting and toting logs to the truck, seeing the orange metal fenceposts. And somewhere in the back of my mind a thought flitted through: “I see the fenceposts. Where is the fence?” The thought flitted away like a butterfly as I continued cutting and toting. Until…

Toting two logs back to the truck, I felt a tug, and then a sharp pain on my lower left leg. I threw the logs away from me. “Snake!” I thought. And then another thought: “No self-respecting snake is gonna be out this time of year.”

I looked down.

And discovered I was standing in a two-foot jumble of coiled-up barbed wire.

I’m pretty sure the amused folks on the nearby highway thought they were seeing an old man’s rendition of modern dance, as I flailed around trying to get out of that spaghetti-like pile of pain. And nothing I was doing was working. The more I thrashed around, the deeper in the mess I became.

Finally, I stopped, took a deep breath, bent down and started carefully removing the barbs one at a time, by sliding them in the opposite direction from which they had become lodged. Very soon I was free of the mess.

You know, a lot of us are entangled in the world right now. Whether it’s covid or politics, many of us are knee-deep in an inescapabl­e jumble of competing ideologies and view-points. Even the “science” seems dependent on one’s political persuasion.

Everyone is an expert, and no one is. And everyone is absolutely convinced they are right, regardless of the subject.

We need to stop and take a deep breath.

If you are a Christian, you haven’t been called to be an expert on epidemiolo­gy. If you’re a believer, your first allegiance is not to a man or a political philosophy. If you’ve been born again, you’re not supposed to be entangled in the world.

The primary responsibi­lity for a Christian is spreading the Gospel – the “Good News” – of Jesus Christ. And this responsibi­lity is supposed to be carried out in love. Whatever you think, say, and do, should be motivated by love. I have seen people I consider “good” Christians destroy relationsh­ips and burn bridges in their efforts to be “right”. We can do better. We must do better. Otherwise, we are no different than people we condemn.

And let’s not get tangled up in the world.

— Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transporta­tion specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenanc­e technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at dougchasta­ The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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