Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Dilemma of a Half-Hero

In response to yesterday's post, a friend of mine voiced her gentle objection to my insinuation that Martin Luther King Jr., due to his extramarital affairs, could not be considered a great man or the full package of a hero.

In regards to his actions (what he has accomplished), I could never say that MLK was not a great man. But I'm more concerned with one's heart than with their actions. And the heart does not break itself into parts. I don't think that you can have a great heart in one regard and a bad heart in another; embrace this kind of love while turning your back on another. Not loving in one regard is a weakness in all regards, because the black spot of false love spreads--it does not isolate itself.

Our history has been one of letting things slide by, using our strongsuits as "free passes" for our flaws; so-called redeemable qualities.

I believe that a real heart is an unbreakable blanket that does not compromise itself. If MLK truly had unconditional love for humanity, then this would have included his wife.

The extent to which Martin tried to be a good man is the extent of which I can respect him. But respect and love are two different things. Forgiveness is a given, and therefore if my heart were right I would be able to love MLK completely for the man he was despite his mistakes.


grace gunawan said...

isn't it similar to bill clinton? he had a extra-marital affair with monica lewinsky and everything that he worked for (great things in fact) was clouded by his affair with lewinsky. i don't think its fair towards clinton though, although i wouldn't say that i agree with him either.

in a conversation with a good friend of mine, we both concluded that monogamy is dead. what's happening in my country nowadays is that there'll be one man with two or three wives. sometimes four even. and there are a lot of people who accepted it as the way it is. personally, i'd rather not get married and have many affairs. lol. marriage is so over-rated.

SaintCecilia said...

That makes me so sad, if monogamy is dead then what is to be said of love?

dan said...

i wouldn't consider him a half-hero for having an affair. or a few. he's at least in the upper 3/4 level heroes, since that affair had nothing to do with the advancement of civil rights and more to do with him being a mortal man with weakness.

i suppose it makes for nice discussion to bring up his extra-marital activities but i do not think it is what defines him as a hero or not.

actions and heart are both important, yet i fail to see how his heart lacked in his taking action for the advancement of black people's civil rights, ultimately losing his life in pursuit of world change.

it altogether strikes me as a trivial issue and affirms a form of "black and white" notions of what a true heart is. a true heart never strays and has no blemishes. cool. but ideals do not exist to be fulfilled, they exist to be striven for.

to complain about or descry flaws in an overwhelmingly beloved American (at a time when few Americans in history could even measure up to mlk ) is unnecessary.

not to say that rigid standards of morality are useless and naive. however, perhaps if coretta scott king can forgive MLK and still love him, we can too.

i don't know if she has forgiven him, but she did keep his name, and she does often speak publicly without resentment towards her husband or judgment towards his transgressions.

so yeah, sexy topic, but i don't know to what end critique is necessary when it calls mlk a "half-hero." seems a bit nit picky.

the awkward epiphany said...

dan: i'll quote from my post: "in regards to his actions (what he accomplished), i would never say that mlk was not a great man."

so let me go ahead and fulfill the other half of what that statement is inferring...ready? "MLK is a great man."

there, i say it. there's not even an argument between us there.

the only place where we divide is with the whole extramarital affair thing. now, you refer in your comment to refraining from adulterous relationships as "rigid standards of morality." whereas i look at not cheating on your wife as a pretty basic guideline to a healthy, happy marriage, and a definite requisite for a developed character.

another woman who stood by her man, much like coretta, through his partaking in sexual affairs is Hillary Clinton. do you think that might have something to do with the fact that she is a public figure? do you think the same might be true for coretta?

we celebrate christopher columbus day as well. i won't even get started about what he did to the natives of where his ships landed.

mlk did great things. i am happy to leave it at that. but if we begin to look at him as a role model for our personal lives, which is exactly as american culture has raised us to do, then it would be a lot easier for people to rest easy in their affairs with the knowledge that if such a great man as mlk did it and everybody still triumphs him....then maybe it's not such a big deal.

i imagine that mlk was a good man. i can respect him for as hard as he tried. but from what i understand, having sex with other women was something he let himself do for many years knowing full well that he was standing in the position where all eyes and hears were on him, standing in a position of a god's servant (he was a rev., yes?). this is not about me not forgiving mlk, it's about me not wanting to close my eyes and pretend that things and people are fine when they're actually not.

grace gunawan said...

monogamy doesn't equal love. and vice versa. at least, that's what i think and feel.