Who would imagine that when I first read Shakespeare’s OTHELLO more than fifty years ago I would ever meet someone like the satanic Iago who could profoundly affect my life in much the same way? After all, Iago, the epitome of evil, was only a fictional stage character meant to be contrasted with the gentle Othello for the sake of the audience. I read in horror as little by little Iago laid his plans for the inexplicable destruction of his friend while gullible, naive onlookers helped to “throw the stones.” Iago’s guile and duplicity were successful in destroying Othello and others at the same time.
One would think that people such as Iago do not actually exist in today’s world, but they do. They hiss out their mischievous slanders, lay their plots, and then quietly watch while the victim’s life runs amuck–all the while counting on the fact that, because of the very nature of the victim’s spirit, there will be no retaliation. In Act I, scene iii, of Othello, Iago says,
“The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have’t, it is engendered: hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.”
At another time Iago speaks of Othello,
“Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.”
You and I both know that slander can destroy a man’s life, and that the only “good” that comes of it is the delicious feeling in the “gut” of the slanderer.
“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘t is something, nothing;
‘T was mine, ‘t is his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.”
Nevertheless, “The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief.”
What a blessing for my soul mate that he was able to smile through it all; I see that, “He hath a daily beauty in his life.” Unfortunate for me, I had not previously been able to smile about it. But rather, my sympathies lay toward a just recompense of reward.
“O Heaven, that such companions thou ‘didst unfold,
And put in every honest hand a whip
To lash the rascals naked through the world!”
But our LORD says, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).
Do Not Be Anxious
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matt. 6:25-34).
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Matt. 5:38-42).
Love Your Enemies
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:43-48).