Those Who Mocked Me
When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” Genesis 9:24-25
In the very public consequences of my addiction, I found that most people were quite gracious, at least to my face. Once though, when I had to present my driver’s license number to someone, this individual took the opportunity to openly mock me. As I fumbled through my wallet for my license, I heard, Did the medical board take away your driver’s license too? I was stunned, hurt, and ashamed. Then later, I was angry. Eventually, I found myself ruminating over the encounter, thinking of all the hateful things I should have said in return. Yes, my life was a disaster of my own making, but for just a little while this individual was the source of all evil. Finally, I had someone to hate except myself. Honestly, it felt good to indulge in my righteous anger. It wasn’t righteous though, and the immediate gratification was fleeting. My life problems weren’t the fault of this individual. My disaster was my fault, and blaming someone else did me no good.
When we fall though, it’s always easier to blame someone else. He tripped me. During failure, introspection is painful because accepting responsibility means that we’re the ones who need to change. If we can direct our rage in any direction but our own, then we can avoid the pain of shame and guilt. This does nothing to rectify our flaws. It just temporarily makes us feel better about them.
This is what Noah did in today’s passage. In the story (I know – I’ve been stuck here for a while), Noah got drunk and laid around naked for all to see. Ham, his youngest son, pointed and laughed. Upon sobering up, Noah remembered the mockery and cursed Ham’s son, Canaan, for it. Why Noah’s anger was directed at Canaan is unclear. What is clear, is that Noah should have been angry at himself. The entire situation was his fault. Instead of accepting responsibility though, Noah cursed his grandson. The story doesn’t include any commentary by God on Noah’s failure, but to me, it’s clear that Noah acted like a petulant child in the story.
When we fail, it’s always tempting to blame others. This makes us feel better temporarily, but it’s simply not constructive. As long as our life problems are the faults of others, those problems will keep happening because we can’t change others. Only when we realize that we’re the problem can we begin to fix our lives. Others may mock us and make us angry, but our failures aren’t their fault.