Sympathy for the Duck

We’re all familiar with the fable of the ugly duckling. It’s easy to empathize with the kid who struggles growing up in a family where s/he feels defective for being different. At least, I can certainly relate to that character.

But I had the thought today that being the Mama Duck in that story is no picnic, either. And we rarely cut Mama Duck any slack.

First, her headcount on eggs/kids to expect was a little off, probably making her question if parenting really had caused some brain damage.

Second, she gets a kid that appears to be “special needs” and/or whose appearance and behavior calls its ancestry (and her parenting) into question.

I can’t help but think she probably did her best.

As an adult, I can acknowledge that Mama Duck had her struggles, too. Those struggles don’t negate the swan’s. But they’re real and important, too.

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Sunday, the sermon covered Genesis 39, the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. I was surprised that the pastor covered the story from pretty much every character’s point of view. That passage is usually addressed either strictly from the perspective of Joseph or God. On a rare occasion, a pastor will also mention Potiphar and his moral quandary. (Because let’s face it, if he seriously thought Joseph attacked his wife, Joseph wouldn’t have been thrown in prison, he’d be dead.)

The one perspective that’s never addressed is Potiphar’s wife. Heck, the Bible doesn’t even give her a name–they may as well call her “Faceless One-Dimensional Egyptian Cougar.”  But the sermon on Sunday did include that perspective. I was surprised.

All characters have common motivations and struggles.  They may be exaggerated, or twisted, but the difference between the hero and the villain is sometimes who’s telling the story.

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