On Equality, Compassion, & the Hope That Lies Within Us All

By: Bethany Thomas

It doesn’t take much to spark the kind of unreserved emotion that moves someone to take action. The problem lies in the fact that these emotions set to action are often negative emotions riddled with lack of self-control. Within us all runs a stream of innate emotions and behaviors from which we may choose to act upon. We are touched by love, we are disheartened by hatred, we rise from this state of discontent through hope; we do this all in the name of humanity. At the core of our being it is clear that despite our diversity, which brings about necessary originality to the marketplace of ideas but is often used a tool of separation, we are all in fact equal.

The combination of ignorance, stubbornness, and blind hatred that allowed segregation amongst different races to flourish for so long stunted the growth of humanity. How much more could we have achieved as a nation by fully allowing the unbridled compassion and intelligence of all humans to unfold? Even now as we as a nation have begun to discover this potential there are those who wish to set us back in the mission for human equality. Through love and love alone will we surpass these struggles, which have burdened us for centuries.
The 2008 documentary A Ripple Of Hope brings history to light presenting the tenacious character of both Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. These men, who focused on equality for people of all races gave their lives to create the change they wished to see. Yet long before their eventual demise they fought valiantly with their words to unite humanity. So moving are their legacies that one must stop and wonder how the sum of anyone’s modern life achievements could compare to the type of change these men were able to create with lives cut too short. The truth is, we all have it within us to affect change starting with our thoughts and moral aptitude. The greatest deterrent of lasting change is the doubt we carry in our hearts that we cannot achieve such greatness.

The idea that all humans deserve respect has been around since the dawn of humanity, although it wasn’t always a popular idea. Confucius once said,  “The superior man understands the higher things {moral principles}; the inferior man understands the lower things {profit}”{14:24}. Thankfully, it didn’t take many of these remarkable superior men to bring forth the moral changes we needed and still need today, but it did take hard work and faith. Like most things, the fight for equality is easier said than done. It’s a battle paved on the bloody path of those who wished for peace before us. We must never forget the sacrifices so many ambitious souls made for us, or the ideals they had at heart. There isn’t a single person in the history of the nation who was able to help thousands of people without first having faith in humanity as well as in themselves. When RFK gave his speech after Dr. Martin Luther King’s death he had faith in mind even though he was speaking to a group of people horrified at the hatred and separation that had caused the assassination of a man known to preach equality. This belief in humanity even in the worst of times is an attitude we must constantly consider within our own hearts.

Each day, sometimes without making the conscious decision to, the way we treat others forms patterns within ourselves and consequently amongst society as a whole. Being aware of the strength our words and actions carry is the first step in making the world a better place for all. Although one man cannot fix every problem in their society, he can begin to change negativity and watch as those around him continue his work.  In the wise words of Robert F. Kennedy, “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others…he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

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This article was written by Bethany Thomas, a student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in Journalism. She is lovely friend of mine and I am proud to share her work on the PositivitiProject blog. Thank you Bethany!

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