When we think about the Passover or Exodus story, we tend to side with the Israelites and their struggle for freedom. For just a moment, I want to think about this from Pharaoh’s perspective.
Pharaoh’s objective as a leader is to maintain power for himself and ensure his family will continue to rule Egypt for eternity. Seven plagues have come, and he has not let up. He allowed everyone in Egypt to suffer, so that he could hang onto this work force.
This is the crazy length to which some people will go in order to stay in power. Even if they really do not have control over a situation, they’ll still hold up a good front to make it look like they have everything wrapped around their little finger.
It took the death of Pharaoh’s first child to finally give the people of Israel the opportunity to leave. But it wasn’t just the personal loss of a child that made Pharaoh’s heart soften. In ancient times, a male child was your future: he was your investment, your retirement plan, the promise of the next generation. Pharaoh didn’t think, “gee, how sad I lost my kid”. Rather, he came to grips with the fact that all was lost, from his patriarchal way of thinking. Ultimately, Pharaoh was holding onto something, in this case it was the Israelites, in order to live out his dream, despite the consequences that were staring him in the face.
In this tough economic time, I think of the number of business owners and families who pretend like they are still making big money, in order to continue on their financial dynasty: their vision for what their lives are supposed to be. And I wonder about all the first-born children, the first generation to suffer with 20% unemployment/underemployment. And I wonder: what are we as a nation “holding on to” that keeps us in this dark plague. Are we holding onto the idea that we deserve fancy cars and nice vacations? Are we holding onto the idea that a credit card is not actual money? Are we holding onto the idea that a big house, with a huge mortgage, is the real promise of America?
Pharaoh held onto the Israelites for as long as he could, and Egypt suffered mercilessly. What are we holding onto, and how long are we going to hold onto it? And if we let it go, just like Pharaoh did, will our suffering end?
I hope, for our own sake, that we do not lose our children to whatever selfish things we are holding onto, which plague our society. America, let go of your false control. See the plague that surrounds you.