Rosa

22 10 2005

Rosa

What did that nameless man believe when he asked Parks to step out of the bus? What must have run through his mind that day? Did he even think about the rationale for his actions? Of course not. His response ran through his words before he whispered them. It was instilled within him from society, from his parents, from his friends. Everyone contributed; everyone sustained the deeply held prejudices. To break this cycle, people like Dr. King had to accomplish something extraordinary – remove oneself from the patterns of society.

Hatred is not always a conscious decision. It rarely is. Rarely can we look at someone and say, I hate that person because, though he has done some amount “x” for me, he has done these actions “y” to me, and has therefore transcended my fair and reasoned area of neutrality into dislike and into hate. No. Instead, hatred is slow to build. Hatred is a principle that blinds us to the good in people. Hatred comes unconsciously, building through prior experience, learned prejudices, and distorted reasoning.

“Love is the condition in which the happiness of one person is essential to your own”. Hatred is the absence of love; it is the absence of compassion. Where we slip into hatred evolves from a cycle of distortion, vengeance, cultural unity. When this cycle becomes self-propagating, when the distortion is not your own, but your grandfather’s, the escape becomes more and more difficult. The hatred is so embedded into the fabric of society, that to escape from the patterns is difficult. Beyond that, removing part of the lens with which you see the world is just like extracting and separating part of what constitutes you as an individual.

To love, and not to hate, is a hard calling. Much harder than hatred, love calls us to analyze the whys of every belief we hold. Are the reasons valid for the way I perceive this person? What are the lenses that I use to view the world? How can we escape from looking at someone negatively, when we don’t realize that we are doing it at all? I notice that not solely in Christianity, but in Buddhism and other religions as well, that there exists a rule: treat others in the way you want to be treated. I don’t want to lose my audience here by sounding like I am pumping religious views – no, instead, I ask that the rule be taken in a secular and very real sense.

That day when that nameless man forcedly removed Rosa from the bus with the aid of the police, he did not put himself in her position. Were he to have tried, he would have dismissed it and sat down next to Rosa and her two adjacent unoccupied seats (Because a white man was alotted not just a seat but a whole row, two other black people left the bus).

The call to hatred is one embedded within us, formed in part from our experiences and our culture. The first step is recognizing the probability that we are prejudiced in some way that we do not consciously recognize. The second is to go through and think about the reasons for being judgmental about others. And the third is to reconcile those judgments with the moral rule of doing what you would have done to you.

Love is the absence of hate and is the garden where compassion grows and progress blooms.

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