Monday, January 18, 2016

A Quotation

One of the things that I always find striking about quotes from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is that as often as we revere them, repeat them and pass them along to others, we seldom seem to put the same level of effort into living our lives by them. We hold Dr. King up as a great man, and treat his sayings as indicative of the highest wisdom, yet we always have our reasons for ignoring those words when the time comes to put them into practice.

When I was growing up, we told ourselves that returning hate for hate would show other people what it was like to be hated, and would thus show them the hurt and suffering that hate created, and then people would learn not to hate. Somehow, we believed this, even though the hurt and suffering that we received did not teach us not to hate - instead, we sought to rationalize our own hate, which was born of shame at the apparent weakness of feeling hurt and suffering. What we did not realize then, but I understand now, and Dr. King understood before I was born, was that shared misery does not always create empathy.

It is unfortunate that we do not instinctively recognize this.

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