Wednesday, April 11, 2018
True Contrition and Congress
The state of feeling remorseful and penitent.
the repentance of past sins during or after confession.
Did you see the film The Social Network? It was a big hit, telling the story of the development of the social media behemoth, Facebook, and the tech genius behind it, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg comes across as very smart, very focused and very arrogant in the movie, not really caring who gets left behind on his path to success.
Zuckerberg has developed a slightly softer image over time now that he is an "ageing" (33) billionaire ( 64 billion US). He's pledged to eventually give away a fair amount of his wealth -- 99% during his lifetime - and he and wife support various philanthropic projects.
He is in fairly deep doo-doo these days, since it was discovered that Facebook was used for disseminating "fake news" during the US election, as well as during the Brexit vote in Britain. Even worse, Facebook allowed companies to surreptitiously "mine" the personal data of millions of unsuspecting users for various political entities.
Yesterday people lined up around the block to hear Zuckerberg give testimony before Congress. These Congressional and Senate hearings are curious affairs where politicians posture as they ask what are often odd and repetitive questions,
I was taken by the news that Zuckerberg prepared with a team -- a team! -- of experts who gave him "contrition counseling." He doesn't do "my bad" well, so they were coaching him to say and act sorry. He's already admitted that what unfolded was wrong and that Facebook must do better. But does he mean it? Is this all a carefully orchestrated strategy to recover user confidence and market value?
At the beginning of Lent millions of Christians gather for Ash Wednesday services where they listen to Psalm 51. The adulterous, duplicitous King David has been called out by the prophet Nathan for arranging the death of the husband of Bathsheba, a woman he lusts after. David realizes his life is a mess and asks for God's mercy. Here's a sample:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions...
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me...
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise...
I suppose we're all hoping that those in leadership and power will be genuine, authentic, even when they are in circumstances which make them vulnerable. Too often we are disappointed by bluster or spin which was been carefully crafted. O for a good old-fashioned "contrite heart."
King David and the Prophet Nathan