Hurt People…

Hurt People Hurt People. Bill Cosby repeated this statement several times when he & Dr. Pouissant appeared on Oprah late last year. He didn’t claim to be the originator of this profound quote, but this newly compassionate point of viewpoint, as far as I’m concerned, was clearly a departure from Dr. Bill’s usual scathing criticism of those African Americans whom he considers responsible for their own misery & deplorable circumstance due to their bad choices and lack of motivation. This turn of phrase began to show his recognition that poor decisions, decisions that give us poverty, addiction, ignorance, abuse and the like, come from a place of severe pain; pain inflicted by perhaps well-intentioned parents, caregivers, teachers, or being more direct I’d say, victims continuing the cycle of victimization as a defensive response to their unbearable, unhealed wounding.

Why do I bring this up now, months after the broadcast? Well, I realized just this morning that yesterday I was suffering as a victim, and I in turn, created discomfort & suffering for others. I won’t get into the specifics, as I don’t want to violate the privacy of those others, but suffice it to say when I’m hurt & angry, the dark side is not loud or teary, but instead seems calm, calculated & surgical in its to-the-bone-slicing precision. Generally truthful, but so brutal and without empathy that recipients & witnesses wince or physically flinch, these episodes are rare, but are also never pretty.

Luckily, or should I say divinely, one of my would-be victims stopped the cycle dead in its tracks. She looked beyond the unforgiving, biting criticism, recognized the pain and responded only to the injury with sympathy and constructive suggestions towards its resolution. For that gracious & generous act (vs. in-kind violent reaction), I express deep and profound gratitude. I think it takes an extraordinary person, a MLK-type person, to do no harm when experiencing a vicious, probably mis-directed attack. Like water hoses, like snarling German Sheperds, like tear gas in the days of Civil Rights met with noble responses of kneeling, non-violent prayer, peaceful marches, Letters from a Birmingham Jail. Thanks, LJ, for, like our ATL native son Martin Luther King, Jr., courageously & faithfully taking the higher road. Based on these epiphany-filled experiences, historic and everyday, I know, like deep inner, universal knowing, that hurt people are also capable of NOT hurting people. The resulting more uplifting & positive turn of phrase: Hurt People Heal People.

So when was the last time someone cut you to the quick, but you neither struck back, nor retreated, but instead voiced the pain and allowed for recognition, apology, forgiveness & resolution? I think both Barack & Hillary have mastered this appraoch in their historic race for the White House. In our culture, we say that a confrontation has only 2 potential responses: fight or flight. I respectfully disagreed; I’d like to add another much more workable alternative: face & forgive.

I ask you now, would you consider putting this alternative into your tool bag of life-coping skills? How often could you use it? What difference would it make to your day(s), your community, and your world? The US Civil Rights Movement transformed our country and the planet through these means. Can you see what possibilities might be available for you today?

My request is that you & I try ‘face & forgive’ often, if we see that we don’t do this routinely, and that we share what the experience is like. I’m looking for the MLK hero in all of us, and I certain it’s not absent from any of us, because it represents the divine in all of us. Its unique expression is what I’d like to know better in you and you and you & me.


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