The price of hating other human beings is loving one’s self less

black and white clouds

I am more concerned with what I am going to be

It may be that I can harm myself by speaking frankly and directly, but I do not care about that at all. Of course I want to get out of prison, badly, but I shall get out some day. I am more concerned with what I am going to be after I get out. I know that by following the course which I have chartered I will find my salvation. If I had followed the path laid down for me by the officials, I’d undoubtably have long since been out of prison – but I’d be less of a man. I’d be weaker and less certain of where I want to go, what I want to do, and how to go about it.

The price of hating other human beings is loving one’s self less.

by Eldridge Cleaver (August 31, 1935 – May 1, 1998)
from Soul on Ice, 1968
Part one – Letters from Prison; On Becoming

Confronting Difference

Eldridge Cleaver was born August 31st, this day in 1935. Some remember him as a civil rights advocate, some will never think of him as anything more than a hoodlum. He was most famous as a leader in the Black Panther Party, and as the author of “Soul on Ice,” a series of essays written when in prison for assault with intent to murder. In “Soul on Ice” Cleaver wrote beautifully, with shocking frankness, of crimes that included serial rape, along side philosophizing about Black Power ideals and his personal experience of racial struggles.

Later in the book, Cleaver writes, “I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed and a white man minds his own business. Until that day comes, my entire existence is tainted, poisoned, and I will still be a slave – and so will the white woman.” My heart cringes. As long as self-concept is based so heavily on the reactions of others, how can there be freedom, even when legal rights and personal safety are assured? There will always be people who push their own opinions on others, who seek to dominate and abuse. The paradox of self actualization is that struggling with helplessness helps us see our power.

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