Posted by: Botolff | March 8, 2009

“The Kite Runner” has something to share.

The other night, my roommate and I watched “The Kite Runner.”

If you’ve already seen it, you’ll probably be right on track with where I’m going.  If you haven’t, and don’t want to know what happens, go check it out and then come back to the post.

Heres a more complete summary of the story.  Briefly…the story is about two boys who lived, grew up and played together in Kabul, Afghanistan.  One is Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and the other is the man’s servant’s son, Hassan.  Both boys work together as a team to fly kites, and enter the local tournament in the city that they end up winning.  One wins by using his kite to cut the strings of other flyers.  Then there is great reward in chasing down and claiming the opponent’s kite.

Amir is fun-loving, but a cowardly boy.  Hassan is protective, and loyal to the end.  Upon winning the tournament, the last kite Amir and Hassan have cut from it’s anchor is free-falling from the sky.  Hassan is known as the “Kite Runner” because he has a unique ability to know where the kite is going to come to rest when it lands.  He promises Amir to go capture the opponent’s kite after it was cut and took off running to get it.  After retrieving the kite in a back ally, he comes up against three bullies, malicious young men, that he and Amir have faced before.  Assef, the leader of the pack, tells Hassan to give him the kite.  Hassan refuses.  Meanwhile Amir has gone looking for Hassan and stumbles on the unfolding interaction, but refuses to let himself be seen.  As a result, Amir watches his friend get beaten by the three bullies, and raped by Assef.  It changes their relationship forever.

A unique turn of events takes place after the back ally incident.  Hassan carries the shame of what had been done to him.  Amir carries the shame of what he witnessed, and the cowardice that once again has kept him from standing up for what he knows in his heart to be right…the defense of his friend.  But instead of owning that shame, neither of them speak of it to each other.  Oh what secrets have the power to do.  Instead, Amir does something that is very common for us to do when we witness abuse and don’t overcome our own cowardice.  The witness begins to attack the victim.

At one point in time, Amir corners Hassan up against one of their favorite fruit trees.  It’s a tree that they both had sat under and read stories together, and had even carved into as a reminder of their friendship.  This tree now becomes a place of violence.  Amir, facing Hassan, reaches down and picks up a piece of fruit and throws it hard at Hassan.  He does it again and again.  As Hassan’s clothes begin to show the stains of the strikes he’s taking, Amir challenges him to throw one back at him in return.  When Hassan refuses, Amir calls him a coward.  Hassan, stepping to within feet of Amir, takes a piece of the fruit and smashes it against his own face and walks away.

Later, in a seperate attack, Amir sets Hassan up by hiding his own watch under Hassan’s pillow.  Amir then goes to his father and tells him that Hassan has stolen his watch.  He believes that his father’s hatred for theft will cause Hassan to pay dearly.  Although the father, unaware of what actually happened, is willing to forgive the boy, Hassan and his father decide it’s time to leave the house and move to a new place.

So, where am I going with this story?  We are all angry people.  Anger is part of our emotional make-up, and it’s in us for a reason.  It’s there to help us fight against the injustice done to us and the people around us.  What can happen though, is that out of our fear of what could be done to us in speaking up against that injustice, we often don’t; but we’re still angry.  As a result, our anger increases, but doesn’t feel like there is an outlet.  Here’s the problem…our anger will come out.  It ALWAYS does.  Sometimes, maybe even often, we will join the abuser in perpetuating the violence.

I remember when I was in Jr. High, that age of bullies and victims, that when I didn’t have the courage to face my own bully, sometimes I would decide to bully someone else.  Sometimes I would even join in with the bullies that usually bullied me, and help them bully others.  I was a coward in those moments.  I was hoping that by joining them, that maybe they wouldn’t hurt me anymore.  I was also looking for a place to express my uncontainable anger, and it was less dangerous for me to do that with people “weaker” than me, then it was to do that with the people bullying me or others.

There is a parallel to a lot of forced terminations in this illustration.  Many FT’d ministers are the victims of other people’s bullying.  A lot of people in leadership in these ministries, or the congregants themselves, become the secondhand bullies as a result.  Because they themselves are afraid to speak up to the perpetrators, but are also so ashamed and angered by what they are seeing, they become the perpetrators, instead of addressing them.  One person I talked to about what happened to me said, “Ignorance is bliss.”  The reality is that “Ignorance is cowardly, and leads to abuse.”  Sometimes it leads to active abuse, and at other times it perpetuates passive abuse. Either way, we will not resolve our own anger and victimization by victimizing other people, or re-victimizing the original recipients of people’s abuse.

Somehow we must find the courage to not pretend we don’t see what’s happening, and to direct our anger towards the evil that is being committed.  In this, what we must struggle to do is not to become the perpetrators of evil ourselves.  The scriptures say be angry but don’t sin.  It might just take a lifetime to learn how to hold that balance.  Thank God for repentance and forgiveness.  But I can say that if I am going to sin, I want to learn to sin standing up for something that is right, rather than just contributing to something that is wrong.

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