NCHS Class of 2015
My 17 years of existence, I feel as if I am much too young to speak to you all about social structure and anthropological theory, but please, if you all will indulge me, hopefully I can make some sense.
I understand this is a service to commemorate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but I would like to focus on a theory rather than the man. This theory is not one that Dr. King created, but one that he has put into practice through his message and benevolence. He was no scientist but he did have a Bachelor's in Sociology, so I would imagine he should know his stuff.
The theory that racism or prejudice is taught, not innate is one that has a strong foothold in our societal history. It is one that has been debated for quite some time. Many believe that our basic animalistic nature to categorize and classify individuals we encounter has a negative side effect of bigotry and prejudice that so frequently makes social relations with others difficult.
Hate, we know, is a natural human emotion. I like to call it Love’s evil cousin. Hate can be characterized as an organization of aggressive impulses directed to a person or group of people. It is composed of habitual bitter feeling and accusatory thought. Its not a long shot for hate to also be considered extrapunitive; the hater feels Justified in his emotion because of the action of the hated.
It seems like prejudice goes hand in hand with hatred. Prejudice, is not a natural way of thinking or a basic human trait. This is a taught way of thinking. Certain groups and individuals hold prejudices that amount to an ideology, a set of elaborated assumptions, beliefs, and opinions that are espoused as a basis for policy or action. Once we are socialized to think and react in these ways it becomes part of who we are, and the way our brains respond to the exterior world.
Overcoming this takes work, takes watchfulness, takes a willingness to be exposed and uncomfortable all in the name of setting things right. Martin Luther King Jr. understood that this teaching can be reversed. Just as hate, a natural human emotion, when coupled with an instructed way of thinking, ends in prejudice; King saw that by coupling love, another natural human emotion, with tolerance, an instructed way of thinking, an opposing force to racism is created: Equality.
It is now our turn to continue the work he has started. But we can’t do it by burying our head and turning a blind eye. We have to be ready to face each other honestly, knowing that we still have a great amount of work to do.
No one is born hating another person because of their color of skin or background or religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.