July 15, 2019- Self-Image

The ancient historian Herodotus told a story about the Scythian empire (today Turkey, parts of Eurasia, Crimea, parts of Iran) in the 8th- 7th century BCE. Some people who had been slaves to the Scythians had rebelled against their masters and fought against them. The Scythians attempts to suppress them met with constant failure. Finally, one of their leaders proposed, wrote Herodotus, the following: “My friends,” he began,” what we are doing is absurd. In this war with our slaves we stand to lose both ways, by the causalities we inflict not less than the casualties we suffer; for the more we kill of them, the fewer we shall have when we are again their masters. I propose, therefore, that we stop using spears and bows, and go for them, each one of us, with a horsewhip. When they saw us armed, they naturally felt that they were as good as we are and were meeting us on equal terms.; but when they see us coming with whips instead, they will remember they are slaves. Once they admit that, they will never try to stand up to us.”

Guess what?

According to Herodotus, it worked. When their opponents saw the whips, they were stymied, dumbfounded, and instead of fighting, they dropped their weapons and fled. When they saw themselves as soldiers, they fought; when they saw themselves as slaves, they capitulated.

A fascinating story, is it not, about self-image?

What about us, as human beings? What kind of self-image do we have? Are we just advanced apes, the chance product of cold, material forces that just happened to produce us? Are we, thus, really formed in the image of apes? Or are we beings made in the image of the Creator of the universe? “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Quite a contrast in perspectives, and surely each view can greatly impact our own self-image. And not only our own, but the image we have of others as well.

Hence, today, every day actually, think and act as a being created in the image of God, and not in the image of an ape. It should make a difference in how you think not only about yourself, but about others as well.

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