Check out the video above. The girl’s voice is amazing. It’s amazing what these two can do with just a guitar and voice.
Anyway, in light of the recent discussion between King and ChineseMom about history, I wanted to say the following: “Suasion and education aren’t always enough.” I think King and ChineseMom agree on where America needs to go, but they disagree on the role of education. I agree with King. Knowledge is necessary, but it isn’t always going to convince people to change their habits. You can especially see this among extremists who support affirmative action/affirmative racism, even to the detriment of those they purport to help. I think deep down inside we all know this, but it bears repeating: some people can’t be helped. You can lead a horse to water, but if he doesn’t want to drink, you can’t make him. While it’s important to extend a hand to those in need, it’s also important to realize that sometimes a more forceful approach is necessary.
In the hands of some, history is empowerment. It presents an opportunity to learn from what happened in the past and a means of improving to change the course of future history. In others, it does exactly the opposite–it provides fodder for excuses, victimology, and self-pity. Even worse, it becomes a pretext for stealing and reappropriating the rewards of other peoples’ hard work. Knowledge of history isn’t bad. History isn’t bad. But some people will never take steps towards improvement. It has nothing to do with history itself but rather the attitudes and values of people who study history.
Here’s an interesting passage from David Brooks’s The Road to Character (p. 147), where he discusses the divergent philosophy of A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Martin Luther King:
“…the prophetic realists were much more aggressive. They took it as a matter of course that given the sinful nature of man, people could not be altered merely by education, consciousness raising, and expanded opportunity. It was wrong to put one’s faith in historical processes, human institutions, or human goodness. As Rustin put it, American blacks look “upon the middle class idea of long term educational and cultural changes with fear and mistrust.”
Instead, change comes through relentless pressure and coercion.”
The reason pure education and persuasion doesn’t work is that people have different values based on different experiences, different temperaments, and different internalizations of cultural ideas. In the end, you can’t help everyone. Elijah Muhammed once said that you don’t have to show someone that they’re wrong; you just have to show them that what you have is better. This works for some people but not all. Sometimes you have to relentlessly pursue justice through law and protests so that people are forced to see that what you have is better.