Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A Story About Two 'Hanks'.
A Story About Forgiveness.

This is long, but because I have been a Hank, and have Hanks that I need to seek forgiveness from, the past two days entries from MountainWings.com touched me deep.

I’m Sorry Hank
I’m sorry Hank.

Hank Smith was a boy in my elementary school class.

I was ten years old.

It’s been nearly 40 years ago.

I’m sorry Hank.

What did I do that was so terrible to Hank nearly 40 years ago?

I was a part of a group who taunted Hank.
We made fun of him.
We teased him.


Because Hank was overweight.

At the time, I simply followed the crowd. It was the cool thing to do. Everyone else did it, why not me too?

I had very little knowledge of hurting others feelings or the lifelong damage such a thing could do.

I was ignorant, but still I participated in the damage.

All of us have things that we wish we could change. We look back and say, “How could I have done that?” "What type of person was I?"

We all have those kinds of things in one area or another.

I was writing material for something that involved forgiveness, both forgiving others and asking for forgiveness for the wrong that we've done, when Hank’s face popped up before me.

I can still see him after all of those years.

I realized long ago the wrong that I had done.

I just have never asked for forgiveness.

I’m sorry Hank.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t feel.
I didn’t realize.

Oddly enough, I remember Hank vividly though it's unlikely that he remembers me. He no doubt remembers the jesting, but I was simply another face in the crowd.
Nearly 40 years ago, at West Manor Elementary School in Atlanta, I participated in hurting another human being.

I’m sorry Hank

...and I ask you for your forgiveness.

~A MountainWings Original~

Another Hank
A comment on the issue, “I’m Sorry Hank.”

I seldom respond to anything which comes into my mailbox. I read MountainWings daily and often forward it to friends. However, today's issue struck a chord to which I had to respond.

I am Hank. No, not the "real" Hank... just "another" Hank. I was not guilty of being overweight, or deformed, or needing glasses, or speaking another language. I was simply different.

In the small northern New England town where I was raised, I was different. My parents were educated, I spoke proper English, my father chose to opt-out of the usual men's activities, and I had seen and done things the other children had not. I had actually traveled all the way to southern New England. It sounds silly, but it was "big stuff" to kids.

Even though I was born in the state and moved to this town when I was under a year old, I was always reminded that I had no right to think of the state or the town as my "hometown." I was called a "foreigner" and "from far away."

I learned three things. "Different" and "wrong" are NOT synonyms, no matter how often they are used as such;

Always, question what someone wants if they say something nice to you;

...and I learned to fight, very well.

About 40 years later, a classmate began asking my mother to send me to her house on my next trip home. Honestly, I resisted. Finally I told my mother that I was simply too old for fist- fights. As mothers usually do, mine prevailed and I finally went to my classmate's home. Much to my amazement, she wanted to apologize.

She said she had been jealous. When we sat down and compared the list of things for which she was jealous of; each seeing it from the other's point of view, we ended up laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation... and shedding a few tears over the waste.

I was most amazed at how much the cruelty had hurt the perpetrator, as well as me.

Taunting hurts!

I want to go on record as a "Hank" to say that, although you may see yourself as a "faceless" part of the crowd, Hank remembers each of you, and probably what you said or did, and when it was done. He remembers your face. It is something that can only be cured with forgiveness... Hank's forgiveness, and yours of yourself. Go find Hank and apologize. It is more important than you will ever know, until you do it.

Please withhold my name... it is still a very small town.

~A MountainWings Original by a lady from a small town~

From The Mountain: I will try to find Hank, perhaps you should find those whom you have directly or indirectly injured and make amends.

Each of us, at one point or another, walks in the shoes of Hank. It happens to the privileged, the pretty, and the proper. When we are bruised, it makes us sensitive. A fresh wound causes us to question and draw back from even a gentle and sincere touch.

No matter how self-righteous we may think we are, each of us, at one point or another, has walked in the shoes of the taunter. When we taunt, it dulls our sense of touch and feeling.

Each set of feet requires healing from the bruises of that walk.


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