Why do we compromise our souls at the Crossroads?

There’s an old story in blues folklore about going down to the crossroads and making a deal with the Devil tin order to become a “bluesman.” Robert Johnson first sang about it, Eric Clapton did as well. Over the years, I’ve given the significance of the crossroads relationship with the Devil a lot of thought.

I’ve decided that, as is usually the case, people must make life choices and in order to get what they want, they sometimes will compromise their very soul in order to get their way. Here’s the thing: What we think we want almost never is what we think it will be. For example, Steve Vai played a character named Jack Butler in a movie called Crossroads. Jack Butler wanted to be the best guitar player of all time, so he made a deal at the Crossroads and with a snap of the Devil’s fingers, Jack Butler became the best guitar player of all time. In exchange, he gave the Devil his soul. However, in spite of being the best guitar player of all time, he had to showcase his talents in a crummy jukejoint dueling with other aspiring guitar players. No fame or money came to Jack Butler. Therefore, not only did he lose his soul, but he didn’t get what he wanted from his newfound guitar prowess.

Jack Butler, though a fictional character, is just like all of us. We experience dissatisfaction with our lives because we aren’t as rich or as appreciated or as thin as we’d like to be. The truth, though, is that if we enter into something with a selfish motive, there’s a real likelihood that even if we achieve that which we sought to, if we’ve hurt others or lost a piece of our soul along the way, it wasn’t worth the effort.

I’ve spent so much of the last several years seeing people destroy their bodies and lives with substances that I’ve concluded that it’s this dissatisfaction that drives so many people into unhealthy paths. It’s like we’re all standing at our own crossroads and must always choose between healthy and unhealthy behaviors. To choose healthy behaviors is usually more difficult and require time and effort, while the unhealthy behavior usually involves shortcuts or other “easy ways” towards a goal. And, it appears, fear is at the core of a choice towards an unhealthy behavior.

To me, fear is a tool of evil. Plain and simple. If anyone creates or attempts to create an atmosphere of fear, then that person is trying to level out his or her perception of life and pour his or her own sense of incompetence onto the greater community. I’d prefer that those who spread fear make their own deals with the Devil and get out of my way. This world needs healing from the legacies of suffering that fear has created and my world doesn’t need anymore of anyone else’s fear. So, to those who spread fear: I pray for you.

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