Family feuds: It’s never over

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For those keeping an eye on the calendar, Election Day is almost here and the feuding is almost over.
Except it won’t be over. It’s never over.

Last week I attended a political forum, sponsored by the Chronicle. Held at the local college, the room overflowed with venom and vitriol and people who weren’t just pro-their candidate, but anti-the other person.

Is it even possible to be pro-someone without being anti-the other person? Just asking.

Before the speeches and debating began, a local pastor, whom I had never met before, sat next to me. He introduced himself and said he knew who I was.

When I heard his name a bell went off in my brain. I had wanted to meet him earlier this year because earlier this year the History Channel had made a miniseries about his famous family and their infamous feud with another family, the Hatfields and the McCoys.

At the time of the miniseries, someone had given me the pastor’s number and said he belonged to one of the families — I’m trying to keep him as anonymous as I can because back then he didn’t want to talk about his ancestors. Not everyone likes to discuss the skeletons in the family closet.
But he talked to me at the forum. He said the famous feud started over someone stealing a pig. It also had to do with land, and there was supposedly a Romeo and Juliet romance thrown in somewhere.

His grandmother and grandfather were both distantly related from the same family, which was further divided into those who feuded and those who farmed. One grandparent belonged to the feuders and the other to the farmers. He didn’t say if the feuders feuded with the farmers, although people within families have fought amongst themselves for generations.

One thing is for sure: Whatever a family fights over, or whatever two families fight over, even if it’s as trivial as stealing a pig, it’s never about the pig, is it?

I have some relatives who are currently feuding, although it’s a one-sided feud. It basically boils down to: “Mom likes you best.”

In the New Testament book of James, James writes, “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way” (James 4:1-2, The Message).

Ouch. As my siblings and I used to say to taunt each other: “Truth hurts! Truth hurts!”

So does feuding, especially among families. Take the first recorded feud in the Bible, brothers Cain and Abel. God had accepted Abel’s offering of a slain animal but had rejected Cain’s bunches of carrots or whatever it was he gave God from his garden.

The Bible doesn’t say why God rejected Cain’s offering, but I suspect God knew both brothers’ hearts and that Cain’s heart was evil. Sure enough, Cain got jealous of his brother (“God likes you best”) and killed him.

That’s what James is talking about.

Another biblical family feud split brothers Isaac and Ishmael. The result was two great nations of people who are still warring and their two great and opposing world religions, Islam and Judaism.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

That’s what family feuding can lead to.

I don’t know what the answer is to world peace or civility within our politically split nation. It might have to start among individual families, between parents and children, between brothers, between sisters.

It might need to start with being humble, saying I’m sorry and meaning it.

It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either, because nothing is impossible with God.

Also, we ought to stop stealing pigs.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.