When I was younger, as summer came to its fizzling end, I used to cringe as I walked through department stores and was accosted by "Back to School" signs. Sometimes it is like I never grew up. Once again, we must buy school clothes, not so much for our kids, but for ourselves, and I find myself standing outside dressing rooms, pacing incessantly, watching as the battery on my phone dies, and I wait to view that perfect outfit.
I say it every year: "They need to put benches outside the dressing rooms for the husbands." Just as well, I've learned to take a book, because the phone dies. It always dies, and then I am left contemplating the invention of paisley and having exhausting conversations with mannequins that do not have heads.
Today, as I stand a safe distance outside that doorless entry to the female dressing room, hoping some woman doesn't think I am ogling her, I read the introduction to a new book I purchased just for this purpose. I pace back and forth, as there is no bench, and read the prelude to the book The Power by Naomi Alderman. Her prelude is an excerpt from I Samuel: 8
I am not familiar with the books of Samuel, so this is a treat. The text explains how during Samuel's time, Israel asked Samuel, "Give us a king to lead us." Samuel was told by God to warn them that a king will reign over them. Samuel, of course, did as he was bid and explained to the people that a king will make the people his servants and take the best of their fields and give it to his officials and attendants, and take a tenth of their flocks, and so on. They still wanted a king and explained among other things, they wanted to be like other nations.
Clearly, God and Samuel did not think it was a good idea, but in the end, God told Samuel to give the Israelites what they wanted. Unlike my wife, who has a quick insight into the deeper meaning of things, I had to think about the purpose of this story, even study (as usual) a little bit.
Now obviously, part of the meaning is about power and the subjection to power, kind of like the power my wife has over me to stand outside this dressing room. However, beyond the question of power, there was the fact that God consented to the request. Even without study, I found this interesting.
I think the moral implies that sometimes inexcusable mistakes become necessary lessons. And so, the mistake must be made for the lesson to be learned. Let them have their king. Watch what happens.
I have thought about the concept individually, but this is on a scale of a people or a nation. The people knew Samuel's status, and he apparently had a direct line to God, but still they would not do what was right. They would not do what was right and consequence can be a harsh teacher. I would fear the payment for a lesson such as this, on such a grand scale.
In comparison, never say "it doesn't matter" regarding an outfit your wife dons for your opinion. You will be punished with at least thirty more minutes of waiting, at which point it will have mattered. And so, by blundering I learn.
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.firstname.lastname@example.org.