Every day, news agencies report the latest, disastrous results of some sort of bullying. But about the time I tell myself, What's this world coming to? Things like this never used to happen! that's when I suddenly recall an incident back when our sons were in elementary school…

Day after day John came home complaining about a classmate who sat behind him in fifth grade. "Bob keeps jabbing me in the back when Miss Smith isn't looking. Just wait - one of these days when we're on the playground, I'm going to jab him back!"

I told my husband, "That Bob is such a brat, I'm ready to go to the school and jab the kid myself!" I mentally added, And while I'm at it, I'll give Miss Smith a jab (an oral one) too, for not doing a better job watching those kids!

I was still stewing and fuming over this injustice to John when our younger son, Jay, spoke up: "Maybe he should feed his enemy."

(At breakfast mere moments before, the four of us had been discussing - and questioning - exactly what the pastor really meant when in his message the previous Sunday, he'd quoted a Romans 12 scripture verse: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him.")

Even so, it never occurred to us to call the brat an "enemy." After all, an enemy was someone way off in some other country. Exactly where was a bit vague, but it had to be somewhere other than in John's fifth-grade classroom.

So the three of us remained startled concerning this enemy-business subject.

Because fathers usually have wise answers to everything, we looked to Dad for input. All he could come up with was a tactful, "That's what the scripture implies."

"Well," I told John, "If God says so, you'd better do it. If you're going to feed Bob, get something he likes. What's his favorite food?"

Our older son thought a moment, then shouted, "Jelly beans! Bob just loves jelly beans!" I popped to the corner 7-Eleven, returning moments later with a little bag of jelly beans for John to take to school that day.

Before the boys climbed on the school bus, we discussed strategy: When Bob jabbed John, he'd simply turn around and put the bag on his "enemy's" desk.

We'll prove whether or not enemy-feeding works.

All day I impatiently watched and waited for the yellow bus to pull up, then dashed out to meet the boys before they were halfway to the house.

John called ahead, "It worked, Mom! It worked!" Little brother Jay claimed responsibility, "Hey, remember it was me who thought it up!"

I wanted details. "What happened?"

"Bob was so surprised he didn't say anything. He just took the jelly beans. But he didn't jab me - even once - the rest of the day!"

John and Bob soon became best buddies. (Yes, I know this story sounds incredible, but it's true - all because of a little bag of jelly beans.)

UPDATE: Eventually, both boys' jobs took them into numerous countries. If/when they encountered hostility, they showed friendship by inviting such "enemies" to share their meals.

So what did our family learn? No matter race, age or culture, "enemies" usually become warm-hearted when food's around.

Maybe that's why God says to feed them.

© Copyright 2014 by Isabel Torrey, a King City resident and long-time columnist.

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