SWINDLE COLUMN: The great conflict

Published 3:04 pm Monday, January 15, 2024

“The true war is not fought on battlefields, in the sky, nor on the seas. The true war is fought within our hearts. This is the great conflict that we all wage war with. It is the past and it leaves its scars.” Author Unknown

West Texas – 1901 – Erich is born into a successful family of landowners, businessmen, and veterans of the Mexican War and the War Between the States. He was the son of an Austrian father and Swedish mother who had immigrated to the Republic of Texas, which later became part of the Confederate States of America, and then the United States. His father insisted on naming the boy. Erich, in the Germanic language, means “complete ruler” and has strong Scandinavian roots.

The minute that he came into this world, his mother would not accept him for unknown reasons. 

As a boy, he was kind and good. But, he could easily sense that he was not good enough for his family. He knew nothing of love; only that of fear. This lead to insecurity and the intense need for victory and validation in all aspects of life. He would battle this fear by openly defying both of his parents.

His fear developed into anger as the good boy became a teenager. Instead of becoming a soldier or a large landowner, he became a lawyer.

This did not sit well with his parents; particularly his father. Because he did not become what his parents expected, he was abandoned. 

The good man started to develop a great conflict within his heart. One part of him wanted to help other people while the other part wanted to hurt people. A person could not be more conflicted within. 

As he developed a strong reputation in west Texas and south Oklahoma by helping clients and winning cases, his mother grew angrier with him. She would send him letters and telegrams expressing her displeasure and rejection of him as her son. She went as far to say that he would never live up to her brothers, parents, or her husband no matter what he did. 

Slowly, his anger developed into hate. 

Hate became to consume him. Whiskey replaced his friends and he was alone. 

But, the whiskey did not numb the deep pain within him. It just fueled his hate like pouring gasoline on a fire.  

About the same time, he started dating a young lady from the Mississippi Delta. She was the daughter of a wealthy family involved in agriculture. Her parents were from Denmark and they were very impressed with Erich and his worldly achievements. 

At the age of 29, he first experienced both romantic and agape love. 

He would soon get married and father a daughter. But, the scars of his past would prevent him from knowing how to be a good father. He would ignore his child and his wife and just focus on work. His fear of not being good enough kept him in his office working harder and perfecting his legal skills. Working also allowed him to temporarily forget the past. 

But, some memories cannot be forgotten by any human power. Only God can relieve this type of pain. 

His mother died in 1931. One would think that his pain would be gone. But, her memory would haunt him well after she died. He could not let go of his hate. 

While he rarely lost a battle in the courtroom, his spirit was split to the bone. On his 39th birthday, he finally accepted the fact that while he could fix other people’s problems, he could not fix his own.  

He had to resolve the conflict within himself. Unfortunately, the good man, who always stood by his family and friends, helped people in need, and was kind failed at this endeavor.  

Although he never committed a crime, he hurt many people with his words, ignored them, and placed the bottle above all else. He just lacked the ability to forgive, trust in God, or admit his own character defects. 

Erich was a well accomplished man in the eyes of others. But, when he woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror, he saw that small boy who was never going to be good enough. 

Nine years later, he was struck with an aneurism and died immediately. His legacy would that of a fierce warrior who relied on whiskey to attempt to quell the great conflict within his heart. He was never able to resolve this conflict.   

The lesson here is that no one defines us. We define ourselves as God leads us on a journey toward the purpose He chose for each of us. We cannot effectively wage war with the past or present, make other people happy, nor be like those we look up to. 

We are all children of God and He made each of us for a specific purpose. 

Let’s find that purpose today.