Humpty Dumpty and the Healing of Our Nation

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

He had climbed to great heights. Given his constitution as an egg (as depicted graphically though nowhere referenced as such in the rhyming words), we might assume it took no small amount of time and a lot of sweat to achieve his elevated position. Having arrived on top, he was just sitting there. Keeping his balance with such a thin, brittle shell was no small feat. Then he fell!


Why did he fall? Maybe he was not in shape, or was not, in any case, of a suitable shape. Or perhaps it was simply an “accident” — a convergence of unseemly and volatile forces that pushed him over the edge? It was a “great fall”. Whatever the circumstances, we can assume he was doing something that one of his kind would not normally due, unless they were especially driven, or daring, or had a death wish. He was, after all, just an egg, perched precariously on a wall, maybe even a wall he himself had built.

Lying there, broken on the ground, his shell no longer protects his vulnerable self. And note: the most public and prominent powers in the land could not put him together again. In the face of their failure, the impotence of the King’s men may prompt feelings of their own inadequacy and helplessness, maybe even shame. Or some may be laughing at the foolishness of Humpty for climbing up there in the first place. Whatever the case, Humpty’s brokenness now confronts others with what remains on the ground. Is it over? Is he dead? Can anything be done other than to clean up the mess and wash away the sticky, smelly debris? But what seems to be the end of the story may not be the end of Humpty after all.

An alternative to the exercise of power and the privilege of position may be required to heal the brokenness.

Maybe, just maybe, the show of force and strength, the machismo of all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, is not what was required to put Humpty together again. Perhaps more than man-power what is needed is holding and healing, a kind of feminine energy and presence (which men as well as women can access, if they choose). An alternative to the exercise of power and the privilege of position may be required to heal the brokenness. Leadership which embodies a tenderness of heart and a compassionate presence may be hard to imagine in the shadow of the wall. But we can choose to look for it and seek to personify it in ourselves and others.

Acknowledging and sharing our human-all-too-human brokenness is essential to the healing task. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But he is not alone. The broken egg and wounded egos need to share their grief, own their vulnerability, and find the courage to re-imagine how to heal the wounds. There is a difference between being broken and breaking open. Let the healing begin from the inside out, however embryonic it may be.