One of the great challenges to our humanity is acknowledging and overcoming our natural tendency to think less of and discriminate against people who are different from us racially, ethnically, religiously, or ideologically.
Despite persistent rhetoric about prizing diversity, political debates often reflect disdain and contempt for those we disagree with, and prejudices of all sorts are more readily stated. Indeed, there are disturbing signs that anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic attitudes are rising throughout the world.
James Patrick Kinney wrote the following poem, “The Cold Within,” to remind us of what’s at stake:
Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In black and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back,
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking ’cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes;
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught, except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without.
They died from the cold within.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.