Do Tears Have Meaning?

I am reminded of the old days during my  primary school years and some of the beliefs and things we engaged in. Of such is having the class hero. This is that individual who was thought to be the unbeatable man. How did he come to be? If two boys were fighting and the winner emerges victorious, another challenger would rise and the next evening, while going home, there was a war arena in a specific place where only the special members attended- off course the manner in which the information was passed was mole like (chini ya maji-under water). The web continued till a time when one boy would be left ‘unattended’ by any challenger. In this system, you had to weigh your skill versus what others were treated to for them to surrender. To this, I was in most cases a spectator- I know myself well. That’s the formal method. There were also informer methods and were equally recognised- provided there is an unchallenged superstar and witnesses. This latter method is where one had a chance of working properly on the standing ‘Mohammed Ali’ in the presence of witnesses. You were crowned the new superstar. Maybe you worked on him while he was unwell, unaware,etc but those factors counted not. At other times the weak, not so many, challenged the last man standing and having gathered all their strength and fear delivered unexpectedly. You were a hero. Chances are that you may stand unchallenged for a while retaining the trophy. Additionally, you were to represent your class or group in case another group or class started displaying their horns. The rubber often met the road because chances are that you are ill-equipped yet your crew expects you to exhibit the lion in you. The tail often located its coordinates effortlessly. The lion in you often looked for the next hutch having turned into a rabbit.

David of the old was a young shepherd who looked after his fathers livestock. He, in his own arena, had killed a lion and bear that had attacked his fathers flock – 1 Samuel 17.34-36. The context of this statement is from the scene where Goliath had spent days insulting the soldiers of Israel in calling them for a moment of fellowshipping over spears, shields and all manner of weapons. No man dared face the man who resembled his name: Goliath. They were aware of the call they had signed to yet to jump into fire is not a measure of hardness. None had matched fourth. They were hiding and this was such a stress to the Israelites. David is sent to visit his brothers with meals- reminds me of the visiting days in boarding schools because there were some goodies that were tagged along. Curiosity led him to enquire of what was unfolding and within time he was a man well furnished with the info. Goliath the superhero of Philistines was still waiting for the opponent’s superhero. His brothers, soldiers with experience, thought that David’s questions were just to seek an opportunity to watch the battle happening. They described him as proud and deceitful- most likely he had explained to them how he had rescued his father’s livestock as well as bringing the predators, not just any predators, to rest. In my primary school years I was among the closest to gravity and not a strong lot. I imagine how some of the gigantic guys we schooled with would respond: tiny you what do you think you’re doing? In both scenarios, manly wisdom dictates that you don’t try death. But God had guided David. I imagine if he had decided to use a spear; it would mean drawing close to the giant and that was more risky. Same with sword or dagger. With the sling and stone, he was in a position to aim and attack from a distance and that’s how the weak-inexperienced soldier delivered victory. He carries the crown. This paves his way into the military over time; and victory upon victory follows by the time he is the king. Defeat is not a part of his vocabulary. I can only imagine his fame in the eyes of everyone. No wonder at some point the women sang that Saul had killed his 1000s and David his 10000s which brought tension between them (1 Samuel 29.5). Truth is that he could not fight everyone, including those from his side in case they were to have a challenge.However, everyone held high trust and expectation for him.

With the scenario of boys above, there were instances of prevailing against opponents and there were those when pain was not a necessary course to pursue – and a marathon sporadically took place. In both cases the superman determined how they engaged. Years later David is the king and victory is not lagging behind. From battle to battle he is delivering as they expected. Years ago I watched the movie: HEROES SHED NO TEARS where the starring,Eddy Ko, passes a lot of tribulation yet in all these moments he grieves not. Amidst the torture, losing of friends and family members, he shed no tears. Emotions in men, in most cases, are assumed to be for the weak, not for supermen. No wonder when boys fought, whether one is hurting as hell or broken or whatever, tears were not a part of  their buffet. While growing up we were told that men shed no tears. David has a son, Absalom, who kills his step brother Ammon who had raped his sister Tamar, went to exile, returned and this time round with a plan to overthrow the king: David- the then superwarrior. Absalom is cunning and is quite aware of how justice is such a tool of influence to the multitude. He uses this tagline of executing justice to win the support of the men of Israel. Before late, Absalom is in a conspiracy against the king David, his father and man of war. Without hesitation David calls his men to heel- they escaped (2 Samuel 15:13-14). The king whom everybody looked upto had a solution: let’s escape from the disaster. He had people with him. In 2 Samuel 15.32.. David walked up to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His face was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning.and the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. This, most likely, was not the expectation of his subjects. The expectation was that he would carry the honour of doing as usual: marching forward, not showing your opponent your back. Facing the mountain courageously, not weeping. The superman at this point was broken. But, was his weeping and escaping a sign of fear? With all the accolades he had earned himself, it was not expected. This was ironic. Were his tears a sign of weakness?

David, I’m convinced, was neither escaping nor crying( weeping for that matter) due to fear or weakness but was worried about losing his other son – Amnon was dead already. (And to sustain this, he later sends his men to search for him with clear instructions: let no harm be extended  upon Absalom-2 Samuel 18.5.) But I also guess that this idea was not known to the subjects including his generals like Joab. To them, Absalom was an enemy who needed to be solved by elimination method. To the rest of the people, an enemy to their king was their enemy hence the call to do anything to help in getting a solution. Where does the narrative that emotions are not a part of men originate from? That a man who cries is a weak man. Tears do not always demonstrate weakness. Escape is not always a sign of fear. There is more to that which cannot be noticed by others. John 11.35… Jesus wept. There was a reason as to why he cried. Irrespective of him being God, he shed tears. Irrespective of the many wars David had engaged in, he at this moment bent towards the unpopular turn. As a man, amidst the expectation that the society has and the traits that attached to being a man (especially in African context) and the load that has been placed on our shoulders, there comes a time when retreating, delaying, slow motion, withdrawing, making that big scream, etc is the only solution at that particular time. Of course by this I don’t mean sobbing every now and then. This is such a non-popular venture but if there is an explainer behind it, it will always make sense. To David it was parental love.