· Illustration by Phil Ashcroft
Samson’s father was an Israelite named Manoah. Manoah was an intellectual and a man of peace. He believed the troubles between his people and the Philistines could be solved through non-violence, so when a Philistine baited him – smacking him in the back of the neck – he would look at his tormentor with this “I pity you” look on his face. In this way, he felt he was initiating social change.
Samson was not given to thoughts of peace. Punching and throwing things around was his natural way. It wasn’t that he was bad; it was just that he was blessed with a great strength that needed continual venting. It was always that way. During his first few seconds of life, he bit the midwife’s finger with a force that caused her to bleed and cry out, “That little bastard!” At five, he could chop wood with the side of his hand, and at seven, he was able to wrestle a horse to the ground. For Samson, acts of brutishness were like what whistling was to a musical genius – something deep inside that had to come out. Kicking a camel in the stomach and watching it fall to its knees was like hitting a high C.
Manoah was embarrassed by his son’s feats of strength.
He found them oafish.
“If you sat down and read a book, then I would be impressed,” his father said.
When he was growing up, Samson wanted to be an angel. Partly it was because he thought it might make his father like him more, but also because he had heard about the feats of strength that angels pulled off – dragging an elephant off an old man’s foot, etc. – so being an angel seemed to be the best of both worlds. You could kick ass in the name of peace.
His mother had told him about a nice angel she’d met just before he was born.
“What is your name?” his mother asked the angel.
“It’s nothing you can pronounce,” the angel said.
The angel then told his mother that she would give birth to a special boy who would be as strong as a mountain.
Canada & its place in the world. Published by
the non-profit charitable Walrus Foundation