One Ebony Voice

The thoughts and views of an African-American...

Lesson from Jena Louisiana: Don’t Take the Bait

Reve' M. Pete, D. T. S.
Dr. Reve' M. Pete

After becoming informed about the situation in Jena Louisiana concerning the Jena 6, several verses of scripture from Psalms 37 came to my mind, “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity….I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; indeed I sought for him, but he could not be found.” Psalm 37:1,35,36 New King James Version.

According to the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible (King James Version), the word “iniquity” used in Psalm 37:1 means “perverseness”, “wickedness”, “dishonesty”, “wrong”, “injustice”, “unrighteousness” and “depravity”.1 After hearing the Jena 6 story, it was clear to me as I am sure it is to others, that iniquity as defined by the seven words listed above is the source of the adversity facing the Jena 6 and their families.

Iniquity is the reason three nooses were hung on a tree at Jena High School. Iniquity is the reason a Caucasian-American young man pulled a shotgun on three unarmed African-American young men at a convenience store in a Jena African-American neighborhood. Iniquity is also the reason African-American students walking the halls of Jena High School were taunted to the point of provocation with insults that included the use of the n-word.

Looking back on the circumstances in the story, I believe one lesson that can be learned is, don’t take the bait. The exception is the incident at the convenience store. I think the three African-American young men at the convenience store are heroes because they successfully disarmed the young man with the shotgun, without anyone getting hurt. If students had successfully disarmed a fellow student with a gun at any of the schools in America that experienced tragic deaths due to a school shooting so that no one was hurt, the entire country would have labeled them heroes. Instead, in Jena Louisiana, the three African-American young men who managed to disarm a gunman in a manner that neither the gunman nor they were hurt were charged with a crime. Could this charge be due to iniquity?

In the case of the insults hurled at African-American students in the halls of Jena High School, I think the lesson don’t take the bait applies. Words do hurt. Words spoken in malice really hurt and can cause one to become provoked. However, I believe the words of malice spoken in the halls of Jena High School were meant to entrap. I believe those words were spoken with the intent of provoking a fight that would cause African-American students to be charged with a crime. Such entrapment is an example of evildoers working iniquity as referred to by the writer of Psalm 37.

The way to avoid such entrapment is to not take the bait. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (King James Version) says charity (love) “is not easily provoked”. Students with a promising future who are tempted through provocation should not act immediately on their emotions, but stop and consider, “Is it worth it to act on what I feel?” Acting on those emotions could be the same as dropping a precious treasure that one holds in one’s hands to pick up and handle a piece of trash. It is not worth it. Keep your treasure safely in your hands. In the long run, that will do more to “whip” evildoers who work iniquity than any physical altercation. The rewards of a physical fight are only a temporary release of frustration. The rewards of achieving a promising career last a lifetime and can benefit many.

While I do not personally know anyone from Jena Louisiana, I do wonder how much envy and jealousy were motives behind the works of iniquity in the Jena 6 story. It is my understanding that one of the young men of the Jena 6 had a promising football career to look forward to. Did any of the students who hung the nooses on the tree or the students who hurled insults show signs of a promising career in anything? Or were they so filled with hopelessness that they envied an African-American student who did? I believe not taking the bait also applies to the students who hung the nooses and hurled the insults.

It is my understanding that many Caucasian-Americans of Jena Louisiana resented the negative publicity generated by the national attention the Jena 6 story brought to their town. It is quite obvious that if the nooses had not been hung, the three African-American young men had not been held at gunpoint and subsequently charged for disarming the gunman, and the insults had not been hurled, none of this would have occurred. Why take the bait to become an evildoer who works iniquity? Galatians 6:8 (New King James Version) says, “For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…”. If residents do not want the type of attention that the Jena 6 story generated, why allow evil works of iniquity to go unchecked?

It is not unrealistic to think that except for protesting what they believe to be injustice in the town of Jena, many people will probably avoid going to Jena Louisiana. It is not hard for me to believe that because of this situation, people traveling in the area would avoid passing through the town. Travelers might be afraid to stop at a convenience store or any other business establishment ANYWHERE in Jena for fear of being held at gunpoint for no reason. This would mean much loss of revenue to the town of Jena through gas stations, restaurants and shops. Tourism dollars are a blessing to any community. How much of this blessing will Jena have to forfeit because of evildoers in the town who work iniquity? Was it worth it to hang the nooses, hold the shotgun, uphold the actions of the one who held the shotgun or hurl the insults? Or would it have been better to not take the bait? Think about it.


1 Zodhiates, Spiros. The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible. King James Version. World Bible Publishers, 1991. Lexical Aids to the Old Testament, p. 1643.

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