The first time I saw Band of Brothers was back in college. Some friends and I pulled an all-nighter and watched the whole series. It was epic.
The characters. The choices. The struggles. The story. Better than a movie. More visceral than a book. So good.
I’ve seen it multiple times since then, and each time I’ve come away with something new. This time I’ve decided to summarize each episode with a single word. Here’s the word that came to mind from Part 1: Currahee.
Specifically, relational resistance. Easy Company’s lieutenant is a total pain in the *%$. He takes sick delight in making the men’s lives a living hell; pushing, punishing, nitpicking, and degrading them at every turn.
Oh yeah, he’s also incompetent in combat exercises. As the paratroopers prepare to jump into Europe, they realize that following Lt. Sobel might get them killed. What to do?
We all know some Sobel’s.
Sometimes they’re in authority. Sometimes not. Regardless, they can easily drain us of time, energy, focus, and joy.
Thankfully, we’ve got options. When a difficult person is standing in our way, we can:
Go back – For the men of Easy Company this would have meant quitting the paratroopers division, which would have essentially let Sobel “win” and relegated them to a lower level of military service.
Not a good choice for them, but sometimes a wise one for us.
Go around – Most of Easy Company tried to quietly make it through training and do as Sobel said. But this became increasingly difficult as Sobel’s ineptitude became more apparent. Finally, at the risk of being court martialed, the sergeants deliver a letter to a higher-up stating they refuse to go into combat under Sobel. Incredibly, they only get a minor punishment and Sobel ends up being transferred.
Sometimes the best choice is to ignore, avoid, or deal with a someone indirectly.
Go through – Before Sobel is reassigned, he falsely accuses one of the lead characters, Dick Winters, of disobeying an order. Winters has had enough of Sobel’s nonsense, and opts for a court marshalling over the admission of wrongdoing. This creates a spectacle which doesn’t look good for Sobel. Thankfully he’s gone before anything comes of it.
Occasionally, there is wisdom in “going to war.”
Now, let’s pause for a sec.
Ideally, we could just go to the Sobels of life and point out the error of their ways, hoping for a productive conversation and maybe even some meaningful change. But this approach doesn’t doesn’t tend to go very well because Sobels are the classic fool. Arrogant. Self-righteous. Ignorant. Self-centered. Proverbs talks a lot about these kind of people:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Proverbs 9:7-8
Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. Proverbs 22:10
Wisdom is too high for fools; in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths. Proverbs 24:7
Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 26:12
Proverbs is honest about the difficulty of dealing with fools. It’s a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. If you do confront a fool directly, you’ll get hell for it. If you don’t, they keep on spreading their own little version of hell unabated. Wisdom is needed in order to know the best approach.
Let’s be clear: not all conflict is the “other person’s” fault, and not all difficult people are fools. There are a lot of factors and nuances that go into relational resistance. Sometimes we’re part of the problem. But make no mistake about it; Sobels are out there, and they demand a response from us.
So let me ask, is there a Sobel in your life? How are you responding? Will you go back, go around, or go through?
No matter what you choose, remember that prayer, patience, grace, love, peace, and wise counsel can go a long way. Take courage in knowing you are not alone, and then do your best to make the right call.
Next up: Episode 2 – Day of Days.