Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
2,000-year-old sequoia tree, California USA
INebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
— Daniel 4:4-5
This chapter describes Nebuchadnezzar's second dream, of the vast tree that reaches to the heaves and spans the earth, a metaphor for the kingdom of Babylon. The king's description of the fear he feels in response to this dream, and Daniel's kind, honest interpretation reminds me of how important compassion is, no matter who we are dealing with. World leaders, even those committing great atrocities in the world, are human beings subject to the same worries and fears as the rest of us, perhaps even experiencing a sense of inadequacy, or imposter syndrome. No matter our crimes, each one of us is worthy of compassion and understanding. Those world leaders that I (and many others) choose to vilify, may, like Nebuchadnezzar, have nightmares and wake up afraid. Each in his1 own way is vulnerable, and in need of a kind voice.
"Daniel genuinely cared for Nebuchadnezzar and was clearly affected by the meaning of the dream. He didn't want it to be true of his friend Nebuchadnezzar."2
Most, unfortunately, do not have such kindness as the truth-telling voice that Nebuchadnezzar is blessed with in Daniel. Instead they have niceness, people telling them what they want to hear. But niceness isn't truth, only appeasement. World leaders making bad decisions, falling into darkness, need to be confronted, but not in anger, only in kindness. Where are the prophets today who will speak truth to power? They could be us, if we so choose. We may not have access to kings and presidents, but we can speak truth to each other, with kindness and compassion. Too often we respond with either violent opposition, or fawning appeasement. Daniel is a role model in right relationship, starting always from a place of love.
1 his: most commonly men, but not exclusively
2 Daniel 4: The fall and rise of Nebuchadnezzar, David Guzik, Enduring Word, 2018