“I am capable of what every other human is capable of. This is one of the great lessons of war and life“. Maya Angelou
Since I watched Maya Angelou on Oprah’s Master Class and heard a paraphrase of this quote, I have spoken, examined, espoused and cringed at the statement. If any human being perpetrates an act, then as a human, I am capable of perpetrating that act. It’s difficult to go acknowledge.
When I read about the atrocity of war, I don’t want to comprehend that I could do such things. When I read about rape, when I hear about gang violence, when I follow the trials of those who have murdered in cold blood…I don’t want to imagine myself being inhumane.
Recently I have been studying in a free online Social Psychology class on Coursera*. I now understand more of the science behind what she learned through her experiences. I understand that unless we comprehend the reasons for our own behavior as humans, we are again capable of being a part of or witnessing another holocaust, or Ruwanda, or Congo. Being a part of genocide is not beyond us. Standing by and not preventing it when we have the power is also possibility.
I feel that I must make it personal. I must question authority. I must examine my beliefs. I must pay attention to what happens in my daily life to the people I see. And I must acknowledge how I react to these things.
I am capable of great destruction. And I am capable of great good.
*check it out at coursera.org