Point of View: The Main Thing

They’re pigmented all in my pantheon, spanning the globe

The president says he doesn’t want anyone from “shithole countries,” and then I thought about the people I’ve most admired: Gandhi, Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu, Martin Luther King Jr. . . . Shithole countries can produce some great men.

They’re pigmented all in my pantheon, spanning the globe. Not that I have anything against Scandinavians, good socialists all.

But when will the day come when people, rather than by the color of their skin, are judged by the content of their character? That is the question; one raised by a visionary resident of this acknowledged land of the free, who in seeking balance was struck down for presuming to think that human beings harm themselves in harming others and help themselves in helping others, a vision that presupposed an equitable, vibrant society, one in which, moreover, poverty would be abolished.

“A people who began a national life inspired by a vision of a society of brotherhood can redeem itself,” Martin Luther King Jr. said hopefully, though these many years later it has yet to do so. 

“We are same human beings . . . we are the same,” the Dalai Lama says, to which Archbishop Tutu adds, “You blossom, really, because of other people.” Or, as Ubuntu has it, I am I because of you and you and you. 

We could be an equitable, vibrant society if we had the will, but it’s not there at the moment. Mark Shields said the other night that the president’s racist sentiments were damaging to the spirit of the country, and that’s no mean thing, spirit perhaps in the end being the main difference between a country that is whole and one that’s a shithole. 

Walls won’t do it, whether they be the walls we’ve built in our psyches, or about our gated communities, or the one that the president, his arms folded tightly about him, would build along our southern border. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. Not good for the spirit, and spirit is the main thing.