Going to Meet the Man, by James Baldwin

                                             Theme Statement, by Bill Erickson

           Too often, tragically, the most pervasive and enduring psychological traits that we call upon in crisis are those so strongly founded in ignorance, and rage, and hatred. As human beings, we are malleable – more so in our formative years than in any other time. We become who we are through experiencing the world in which we exist, and under the direction, observance, and influence of those whom we admire and strive to emulate. As children we indiscriminately and unquestioningly merge our experiences into our burgeoning psychology. When exposed to brutality and cruelty, the cause of our role models, we have not the ability to catalog it as such. Thus, tangled within passion, love, guilt, and all else, deep hostility can become an integral thread in the labyrinthine weave of our identity. To this end, we often come to espouse our most tender and compassionate qualities with emotions and beliefs whose nature is wholly inimical – the passion of hatred and violence enmeshed within passionate love and caring, righteousness with rage, virtues and viciousness – forever inseparable and inescapable. Even if we press to our deepest recesses these marks of abhorrence, they endure, they fester, and toughen. And, at our most vulnerable, stressful, and unsure, they rise from suppression – they again strengthen the delicate fabric of our being, and they become the pillars of our personality. When love is in question, hatred comes to serve as the default. When we feel that we have lost hold of what we know, we revert back to those most basic influences of our early lives. When those principles are wretched and hateful, guilt and confusion prevail, because what we learned as children we assume to be right. Thus, even our innocence is guilty, and life itself seems a cruel incongruity.

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