Written by Morris, 19, December 2007:
In our world most people gain satisfaction by proving their own
strength to others, unfortunately often at the expense of the next
person. When in fact ostentation reveals the not so attractive truth,
which is fear and vulnerability. Booker T. Washington knew that
you don’t have to degrade another to promote yourself when
he said “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength:
one is pushing down, the other is pulling up”. This quotation
is both favorable and important to me for a few reasons: it reminds
me that there is great valor in being supportive of others, it also
amazes me that the lips these words left belonged to someone who
could have easily been resentful and bitter but who instead was
altruistic even after the hardships of slavery and oppression.
Today, our culture is one of self promotion and success at any cost.
The question of how to increase ones income and social status seems
to be on the top of peoples priorities. Technology has made everything
almost instantaneous and the general consensus is that there are
not enough hours in the day. With that being established, someone
taking time out of their schedule to help another person with no
tangible gain for themselves is becoming rarer and rarer. Because
of this when you do help another person they will take notice and
appreciate the selfless gesture even more.
Booker T. Washington was born on a plantation and freed of slavery
by the Emancipation Proclamation, his freedom from illiteracy and
oppression though was gained all by his own drive, intelligence
and hard work. Instead of having hate for the cards he was dealt
he used education to achieve what he wanted. The fact that the quote
was said by a man with his history makes it that much more insightful
to me. What I mean is that if he had that much clarity, peace and
understanding of himself and the world around him what excuse could
I ever have for not helping others, or “pulling up”.
I can truly say that I love Booker T. Washington for everything
that he was but more importantly everything he wasn’t. He
did not succumb to the ignorant and racist people in his world attempting
to oppress him. He did not resort to violence in the face of hate;
he achieved everything he wanted without using someone else as a
stepping stool. This quote means so much to me because of its obviousness
and its genius. I consider someone who brings one person out privation
stronger then someone who’s ruined hundreds of their competitors
to get to the sought after “top”.