Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Image from Mindworks
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept / And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.
— Genesis 33:4 / 45:14-15
Esau sees Jacob, runs to embrace him, and will have none of his gift, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.1 Esau seems to have forgiven Jacob long ago, and no animosity remains. This story seems to be a prototype for the later story of Joseph forgiving his brothers for the wrongs they did him in Canaan, also around twenty years on.
In both these stories it is the one who is wronged who is first to forgive, and first to forget. The one who commits the wrong is the one who hurts the longest, who suffers guilt and shame, and suffers fear of reprisal. The desire for vengeance is shown to be a temporary thing in Esau's case, and in Joseph's a non-issue.
It's interesting how much a good person suffers when they hurt another. We are often wracked with shame, guilt, anger, and resentment when we've injured someone we love, and our hubris and stubbornness prevent amends-making, driving us instead to look for ways to blame the other, and convince ourselves of our own righteousness. Doesn't work though. The pain doesn't go away, and sometimes our ills may even become physicalised, embodied, and we live on in absurdity, shackled to the past. Elton John says it well.
It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over?
Oh, it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word.
1 Genesis 33:9