After watching Selma…

On Friday, my wife and I went to see the file Selma, at the MacRobert Cinema at Stirling University. It’s a great film: dramatic, moving, quite long, but paced. The words and the oratory are wonderful to listen to. And of course, it covers events that we can remember being aware of in out own time, as young teenagers in Europe, as we heard about civil rights in America with the ears of an idealistic post-war generation, and as we watched the war in Vietnam gradually heat up.

But there was one quote that really struck home to me (again probably as a North European), and though I have searched for it, I can’t find it: in essence it pointed out that one of the ways the rich whites in the America kept the poor whites down was by ensuring there was a group who were always lower then them, namely the black Americans. It hit home, because that’s been true in many societies: the Irish in Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the native populations in Australia in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and many others too, at many different times. And that seems to be something that is always in danger of being present.

So the father hits his older son, who then punches his little sister, who the slaps her smaller brother, who then kicks the dog…

Is this “just human nature” or can we do better?

One thing I discovered looking for the quote above was just how strongly King wrote on poverty and war, as well as on racism, how much he was far, far more than a single issue politician. I am beginning to understand why there is  Martin Luther King Day in the USA.

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