Monday, March 29, 2021

A Man Disgraced

When we talk about the story of Hanun, it's easy to understand where this guy is coming from. After all, it's a very human experience that he's encountered - he acted out of his own pride and insecurity and realized later that he messed up, so he doubled down on his sin and did something even worse. 

Who among us hasn't done that?

There's something in us that wants to not have to embrace our shame. We don't want to humble ourselves and confess that we were wrong. So instead, we end up doing worse things - unspeakable things - to those around us, even to those that we once called friends (as David and Hanun were once on good terms). 

Either we end up gaslighting someone, trying to convince them that their offense is their fault, or we cut off relationship with them altogether. Hanun here was trying to destroy David and his army so that he didn't have to face the consequences of his actions by any measure. If David doesn't exist any more, if Israel is in shambles, if nothing is left but a pile of rubble, then it doesn't matter how many beards he cut - nobody's thinking about beards in the midst of the ashes. 

And Hanun might even have been thinking, to some degree, that if he's going to incur the wrath of David, then he might as well just go for it and do something to really deserve it. He might as well take as big a shot as he can and go out with guns blazing (or swords flashing, as the case may be). 

Why do we do this? Why do we think that the way out of a hole is to dig it bigger? Why do we think, at a moment when we start to question ourselves, that the answer is to become the person we're afraid that we might be? Why do we think that the best way to handle our own insecurity is to make our world truly unstable around us? we keep trying to justify ourselves, when things could be so different if we would just humble ourselves instead?

That's really what is at issue here: Hanun was looking for a way to make himself right for doing what he did, even when he realized it was wrong. He seemed to have no interest at all in making the situation right. 

This is lesson enough for all of us. If we stopped here, there would be a lesson that would take us, we must confess, a lifetime to learn. It's just hard for us. It's hard for us to humble ourselves, to confess our sin, to apologize, to repent, to atone. It's hard for us to step forward, own our errors in judgment, and promise to do better. It's hard for us to take responsibility for our actions, particularly when we realize later how misguided they were. I confess to you plainly that humility is a lesson that I have to learn all over again every time the opportunity presents itself. It just doesn't come naturally. It's something we have to keep consciously choosing, and in the heat of the moment, most of us forget it's even an option. 

But let's complicate things a bit and propose that perhaps Hanun's pride and insecurity are not the only dynamic at play here. Let's say that maybe there's something else we could learn from this story, something that draws David back into the picture. 

We'll talk about that tomorrow. Steady your heart - it's a doozy.  

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