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Monday, January 21, 2013

A Thought (or two) on MLK Day, 2013

I couldn't have timed going to see Lincoln any better. I got up this morning, somehow oblivious to the fact that it's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so when I sat down in the back of the movie theater, I couldn't figure out why it was so packed on a Monday morning. After the movie was over and I left, I realized what day it was.

A few thoughts on the movie: I can see why it's up for, what, 12 Academy Awards? Yes, it's true it's got a slow pace. It's a gentle, cerebral movie, something our fast-paced society might find "boring." But it's worth a sit-through if you can calm yourself down long enough to go back in time and think about what the message is. Daniel Day Lewis astounded me yet again, and I might have to go watch There Will Be Blood later to see him portray someone the polar opposite of Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones was also fantastic. The sets were wonderful, and the music was subtle yet effective. Overall, it was a very good movie.

And seeing this movie, and realizing what day it is, and processing some things that have happened recently to me in my personal life, has made me come to a firm conclusion on something, and that is this:

When people start thinking they are better than others, that is when we lose our goodness.

Whether it's a white man thinking he's better than his black neighbor because of color and long-held, pointless prejudice...

Whether it's an intelligent woman who thinks she is better than her classmates because she studies harder or has an easier time learning the material...

Whether it's a rich man thinking he's better than his poor lawn workers because he has more money...

Whether it's an artist thinking she's better than her contemporaries because of her level of skill...

No matter what the reason, thinking you are better than any of your fellow men or women puts you on a false throne of superiority, which can do nothing but divide you from your human brothers and sisters, and ultimately put you at risk for an ugly, hateful seed to start growing in your breast.

Yes, it's true, there are some people who are richer than others. There are people with differently colored skin. There are people with a higher capacity for learning. There are people who have mastered certain skills in all areas.

But no man, not a single one of them, is better than the other one.

We are all human beings.

We all come into this world, naked and crying, and we all leave it alone on the day of our (guaranteed) death. If we're lucky enough, we all grow old, our hair and teeth fall out, and we become helpless just like the day we were born. We all laugh, cry, and most of us have loved at least one person dearly.

Why don't we focus more on our similarities than our differences? Why do we strive to be seen as better than others, when all it does in the long run is damage us and the people around us? Why do we need to try so hard to be better than someone? Why can't we all just...be?

Anyway, thanks, Lincoln, for the inspiration. Those are my thoughts for today.

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