Two days ago, on Martin Luther King Day, I read the obituary of James Hood in the Sacramento Bee. Mr. Hood is remembered mostly for having been brave enough to be one of the first two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama in June, 1963. At that time, George Wallace was governor of Alabama and a staunch defender of segregation who hoped to keep the University of Alabama a whites-only institution. Wallace was famous for having said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” Thankfully, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s did away with much of the segregation that Wallace so vehemently supported, but a more subtle and individual segregation, or what my earlier blog post called “compartmentalization” remains stubbornly effectual in human beings even today. This is not to imply that strides haven’t been made; they have, but this more subtle sort of segregation still mars the life of the soul in surprising ways, ways that often have little to do with racial intolerance. Interestingly enough, how the word “soul” rests in the soul provides a good example of one of these ways: you have perhaps noticed that there are some among us, many of a scientific bent, who find it difficult to allow the word “soul” (with all its mystical connotations) to be admitted into their segregated psyches. In a certain sense, they are prejudiced against the word and the ideas it represents. And imagine if I had mistakenly spelled “soul” as “sole” — there would then be whole other groups of people, English teachers and such, writing me off, excluding me from the VIP sections of their segregated psyches. Of course, we are all one big happy family when it comes down to the obvious fact that we all possess varying levels of prejudice against all manner of things, which is to say, we all have “pre-1963-University-of-Alabama-like” campuses in our inner lives, places where we too often keep out what we ought to let in. As I prepare for future missions on the novice hero’s journey, one of my goals is to do my best in letting more people, experiences, and inklings in. Indeed, many of my thirty-eight missions are designed specifically to facilitate this outcome. And hopefully, in achieving this outcome, I can develop even a fraction of the courage of James Hood.
Document your mission