Being Human

“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.

The Student

*check it out at coursera.org

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Filed under Master Class, etc., Quotations, Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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