Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thoughts on a Holiday

Thoughts on a Holiday

During the civil rights movement of the 1960’s I was too little, and way too sheltered, to be of much use.  Even though Martin Luther King Jr. and I grew up in the very same city, his noble activities were something I only saw occasionally flash across a black and white television screen as I ran through the living room on my way outside to play.  Ensconced in my leafy enclave where swing sets sat under tall trees and the ice cream truck sang its way down our street every afternoon round four, I was blissfully unaware of injustice, ignorant of racism, and oblivious to hate.  It was very different across town.  I know this now.

Whenever I watch the films of the civil rights marches I am always struck by the faces of the men holding the fire hoses.  I compare them to the expressions worn by the men and women being thrown up against buildings and face down on streets by the force of the water shot towards them.  Strangely, it is the perpetrators who wear the faces of hate.  Self-righteousness twisted into thin-lipped, steel-eyed grimaces that perfectly illustrate the monstrosity of their wearer’s actions even as they manage to reveal the fear lurking just beneath the skin.  For there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years since that time:  fear is generally the precursor to hate.  

There is much to fear today.  This past year has been a ceaseless parade of unparalleled atrocities, played out on screens for all the world to see.  It is cavalier not to be frightened of these brutal savages who slaughter the innocent before our very eyes.   But like all dark emotions, fear lives next to neighbours capable of great damage.  It can lead us to airless places where bitterness pulls the curtain down on hope and hatred slams the door to love.   It can - slowly, almost imperceptibly - fashion an unrecognizable world.

Today on this day when we pause to remember the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., I am thinking it is easy, too easy, to hate those who commit these acts of barbarism across our world today.  It is easy to stay in our homes and arm ourselves;  easy to applaud the torture of our enemies, even as Christ called us to love them.  It is temptingly easy to categorize man as good or evil and easy to banish the evil to hell. But in doing so, in taking this easy way out of the confusion and fear that we all must feel when faced with our current realities, what do we do to our culture?  What do we do to our souls?

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
MLK, Jr. 


  1. Very well said Pamela. We would all do well to remember those words.

  2. So well said, Pamela. Fear lies behind so many negative feelings. It grows and grows and becomes recognizable as bias, prejudice, snobbery, arrogance. Even religion, in some instances, can be based on fear, not love. Fear often lies behind the need for power and wealth. If one isn't careful, one can fall into that trap so easily....the fear of fear. What a world!

  3. So true Pamela and thanks for reminding us . Excellent quote by Dr. King. After the this past year and all the senseless destruction in Ferguson and elsewhere. I decided every opportunity I have to reach out if only with a smile, or a nod or opening door for another person whether of a different race or not I commit to send love. I am flawed as all humans are but to seek to see each of us in our own humanity as someone's son or daughter, someones father or mother, brother, sister and realize like we need water and food and air we need love.

  4. Pamela,
    You are such a gifted writer and I'm always enriched to read your words, filled with wisdom. Thank you for reminding us that fear leads to hate and no good can come of that.
    I hope you are fully recovered and back in your routine.

  5. Exactly. Black/white TV, occupied with playing outside, Why were they all so angry? No worries, my job was to play. Get inside on time for dinner. Now, even that parental behavior is considered illegal.

    Anyway, the more I read from MLK's works the more convinced I am that he truly stopped some horrible things from happening. He made my life, our lives, better.

    Was in high school when dad came home with a color tv. A defining moment. Sister/me were plastered on the sofa, trying to hide from him. Buying a color tv was not frugal, something bad must have happened surely ! The box said 'color tv'. We knew it had to be something else. Something bought for aesthetics or pleasure? Not done in my family.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  6. Beautifully said. I often think of how courageous my grandparents were to come to the United States from Italy as young adults not knowing the language and I know my grandmother could not read or write. My father has told me stories of how some neighbors denigrated his family for being large and different. I think of my immigrant grandparents, who had more courage than all of their descendants put together, when I hear US citizens denigrate, with fear and ignorance, current immigrants to the US from all over the world.

  7. Pamela, I am SO on the same page as you are.....it is gratifying to hear your thoughts.

  8. I really have seen all this before. There are always those that keep fanning the fire.
    I believe that this world has just gone nuts. If it's not the USA it's somewhere else.
    So much Hate that's the cause. Golly!! even on the Beauty pagent. Even that Speach,
    Obama gave with the Jackass behind him making faces for the world to see. I
    better get off the soap box. yvonne

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!