I remember a very sad story from when I was a 5-year-old. It was Halloween, and I was wearing my new, but beloved, Superman costume. This is very long ago when every kid’s costume was extremely thin material. I fell on the street and went down on my knees. It ended up tearing my costume. I felt humilitated. Here was the Man Of Steel with torn, bloody knees. It betrayed everything I aspired to in that costume. I could not be consoled, and instead just got angry. I would yell and tease the other kids in my group. This only made things worse, since the adults wouldn’t let me go to the doorsteps to collect my goodies as we went down the block. Instead of simply accepting the fact that my costume was a little damaged and going ahead with Halloween, I just made things worse. I never did get any additional candy that night.
That was a childhood error that fixed itself as I grew. Each time I got angry, I realized I could make my situation worse very easily by just giving into my anger. Although I’m definitely not perfect, I’ve learned how to respond with grace when things don’t go my way. My Christianity has taught me that. Jesus responded with grace when he was surrounded with those who wanted to take his life.
But not all actually accept this as part of their worldview. There are worldviews that simply pile anger upon anger. There is never any peace, but just retribution. There is never forgiveness, but just old, crusty bitterness. That was evidence recently in Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip.
Several weeks ago, Hamas began a protest against Israel, telling thousands of Gazans that they needed to try to breach the border with Israel and occupy parts of the country. They described this as a peaceful march, as if no one had ever read about Hamas protests of the past. Israel held them in check, killing and wounding many of the protesters.
As with many of prior protests, Hamas had two directions they could go in. They could simply stop, realize nothing would come of such violence, live at peace with Israel, and build up their culture and economy. Or they could just double down on their anger and keep protesting. As is typical of their worldview, they chose the latter.
But they did so in a way that just made things even worse for themselves. First, they declined Israel’s offer of humanitarian medical aid for the protesters. This was greatly needed, since many protesters had been wounded.
And second, they started firing rockets into southern Israel, but they did so recklessly. When I say “recklessly”, I mean “stupidly”, because they damaged the electrical infrastructure that brought electricity into Gaza. This means much of Gaza ended up without electricity.
I wonder when the inhabitants of Gaza, or the leadership for that matter, will begin to realize that cutting your nose off to spite your face is not a good national policy. But this would require a change in worldview, from unrelenting anger to a worldview where true forgiveness is possible, or even loving one’s enemies.
What a novel idea.