In the aftermath of the tragedy in Charleston a much-needed national discussion has ensued about the scourge of racism, the plague of bigotry, and the “symbols” that can sometimes promote both. What’s been absent from the discussion, however, is a meaningful probe into the character of a bigot and the kinds of things that promote such troubling character development in any human being. For that reason, even though I’ve already shared a few thoughts on Charleston in last week’s post (see: The CD Continuum Wrap-Up: The Preeminent Role of Character), I’m departing a bit from my usual mode of topic posting to say some necessary things about bigotry and character.
I was more than a bit disappointed as I perused several sources for the current accepted definition of bigotry. Dictionary.com defines a bigot as: “a person who is utterly intolerant of any different creed, belief, or opinion” but offers nothing about what underlies such intolerance. The British Dictionary says a bigot is: a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race. Again, the focus is on intolerance, not what predisposes it. Merriam-Webster takes a slightly more comprehensive casting a bigot as: a person who both strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc., and who hates or refuses to accept members of a group (such as a particular racial, religious, or ethnic group). Clearly, none of these definitions speaks to what it is about a person that can allow him or her to hold such poorly reasoned, yet intolerant and hate-evoking attitudes. But as any reader of this blog or my books might already have surmised, I believe the answer has to lie in character – specifically, the inherently malignantly narcissistic character of the bigot.
I’ve written before about narcissism that reaches a hyper-pathological extreme (see, for example: Malignant Narcissism and Malignant Narcissism: At the Core of Psychopathy). It’s one thing to think really highly – perhaps even too highly – of yourself and to be self-centered. But it’s quite another to view others with disdain or even contempt because, after all, they’re just not you. A pathological degree of grandiosity (i.e. malignant narcissism) is always at the root of bigotry. Whereas the “garden variety” narcissist feels and acts superior, the malignant narcissist knows he or she is superior. Just ask him or her! And if you affirm his or her opinions, then you have some value. If you don’t, you’re pond scum. It’s that simple for the more malignant narcissist. Of course, the most extreme example would be a psychopath (some also use the label sociopath and I, as my readers know, prefer the label: predatory-aggresssive), who regards all those poor souls who care, fear, or have compunctions as inherently weak, inferior, and expendable creatures, and, therefore, their rightful prey. But there’s a lot of folks on the continuum of malignant narcissism who fall short of being out-and-out psychopaths. So while psychopathy is still relatively rare, bigotry, unfortunately, is not so uncommon. And in the age and culture of narcissism, it’s simply too easy for some among us to look down on those they view as inferior just because they don’t look like, act like or hold the same views as they do.
As readers of my book The Judas Syndrome already know, I believe Jesus of Nazareth knew exactly what he was talking about when he advised those who would follow his way of living about judging others. Some folks cite the part of one passage that reads: “Judge not,” as evidence that he advocated we simply not judge anyone about anything at any time. But a closer reading of all the relevant passages from the various sources renders a much different interpretation: We’re to be really cautious about exercising judgment. For the standards by which we judge others we will be the standards by which others judge us, and to the degree we hold others to account, they will hold us also to account. Moreover, if we really want someone to see reason (i.e. when we’re trying to “remove the speck from their eye”), we can’t be oblivious to the biases, prejudices, and other distortions in our own perceptions (i.e. the “plank” in our own eye), which are often greater than the flawed views of the other person, that make it truly impossible for us to rightly judge the situation. We’re advised, therefore, that when we simply have make a judgment about someone (and there are plenty of situations where it’s imperative we exercise good judgement), to do so in genuinely righteousness manner, not looking at the relatively irrelevant externals (a person’s appearance, background, manner, etc.) or with partiality or prejudice, but with an unbiased eye about what might lie in the person’s heart. Again, he had it exactly right. So did Martin Luther King, Jr., who openly prayed that the day might come when all people would be judged “by the content of their character” and not by the color of their skin. Sadly, his dream has not yet been fully realized.
It is reported that Dylan Roof told police that for a brief moment he had second thoughts about the horror he planned to inflict on his unsuspecting victims because “they were so nice” to him. But his perverted beliefs about their value as human beings and his sense of superiority and entitlement trumped any limited capacity for empathy he might also have had. And if that statement doesn’t illustrate in dramatic fashion the supreme importance of character, I don’t know what possibly could. Roof’s comments and actions not only testify to how dangerous it can be for someone’s narcissism to reach such a malignant level but also underscore how imperative it is that we successfully confront what I have long asserted is the defining issue of our time: the character crisis and the sociocultural factors responsible for promoting it.
Radical, bigoted ideologies are appealing to a certain kind of character (for more on this see: Radical Ideologies: Deadly Ways of Thinking). And such ideologies will be around as long as there are hearts and minds receptive to them. To put an end to bigotry we must first be about the business of changing hearts and minds, necessarily starting with our own. But to even begin to do that, we have to confront the proverbial elephant in the room: character.
In the coming weeks I’ll be making some announcements about the latest foreign edition of In Sheep’s Clothing, some new material to accompany Character Disturbance, and the advance registration details for this fall’s webinar. And I’ll have a lot more to say on today’s topic on Character Matters this Sunday evening at 7 PM EDT (6 PM CDT, 4 PM PT), which will be a live show, so I welcome your calls.
58 thoughts on “The Character of Bigotry”
I would first of all like to Thank you, for writing such a much needed article on this topic. I try to pattern my life after Christ as many others do. I think sometimes people forget the greatness of this nation was founded on Christian principles, which I am not so sure of any more.
LisaO and to all whom may have a problem relating to my reference to Christianity. My faith is who I am and it is a part of me as much as my nose that is on my face that I use so I may breath and live. I think I explained this some time ago. If what I write offends you please skip over the parts you don’t like. I am by no means trying to convert anyone here, nor do I believe any of my comments were improper or offensive. I cannot deny my faith or leave it out of my comments as it is what has saved my sanity and life on numerous occasions and is the sole means that got me through not just one nightmare but many that have presented during my lifetime. My life is based on the principles that Jesus set forth in the Bible and Jesus has “CHARACTER”. Jesus said “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. He also said the greatest commandment is: To have no other Gods before him and the Second greatest commandment is; To love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Perhaps if the CD could follow the above we would live in a much better world but they are filled with envy and hate, lovers of themselves full of putrid sick intolerance except for how they see things. Kill, Kill, Kill, Torture, Mutilate, Envious, Sadistic, sick unscrupulous sorry excuses for humanity. The man who shot the people in the church was ultimate EVIL. If blacks were not available I’m sure he would had shot Hispanics or the hated Jews. I don’t believe in the end these are hate crimes against a minority, its a sick twisted mind again of the Malignant narcissist. Satan the master of all Evil is the ultimate narcissist. I believe these perverted beings use projection of their ultimate hate directed outwards to others in order to justify their putrid, slimy, sorry excuse for an existence. We are all brothers and sisters in this world, and come from the same source, the original beginning. I have said blessings as my ending to my writings for the last 40 years I do not intend to stop now. It also means goodwill. I hope that the man who perpetrated this heinous crime is held to the utmost accountability and I hope that society as a whole starts to open their sorry eyes or should I say take the blinders off to the fact that we as a whole nation are responsible for the sick and sinful state we are in. Extra accountability to the sick perverted attorneys that profiteer off the misfortune of others protecting these low life’s. I will follow the principles Jesus set forth and I dare anyone to fault his teachings of Character and love. I have more to say but right now have a sour taste in the pit of my stomach because I know this day is just the beginning of “You aint seen nothing yet.” in this sick sorry world. Goodnight and God bless each and everyone of you precious children, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, friends and neighbors, lovers of Christ Jesus of the Charleston church of God and to any of you kindred spirits on this site. “BLESSINGS and mor BLESSINGS”
I’ve read this blog for some time. Didn’t feel anyone was offended by your Christianity. Hopefully this is a misunderstanding.
P.S.Sorry for the first post goof. Dr Simon please remove it.
First post being that TOVB -post.
In my experience, and, may I add, having been brought up ‘in’ the church, far too many Christians feel obliged to apparently ‘defend’ themselves, far too often, IMO, when they haven’t even been actually ‘attacked’, but perhaps simply questioned as to something they’ve stated in a religious context that they consider to therefore be ‘fact’, whereas others would rather use notions of science and logic, and dare I say it, basic human instinct.
The fact that these questioners of religious context being used to explain any and everything are invariably ‘non’ religious I believe adds further fuel to the christian’s outraged (at being questioned) fire, particularly as there is, without doubt, a certain air of self righteousness and superiority (as ‘I believe and you don’t’) about faith, a tragic consequence of an organisation that is not supposed to be about the self righteous ego, but about selfless spirituality, but that unfortunately is organised by that faulty being that is ‘man’.
I would therefore propose that this apparently ”under fire’ Christian who feels to go to some length to ‘defend’ himself is doing nothing more than being covert aggressive, displaying an unfortunate amount of ego and narcissism, and showing his very narrow minded view of the world, divided into those who have faith and those who are wrong, very clearly in his post…..
as Dr Simon himself, I believe, has already explained in his wonderful book In Sheeps Clothing, the covert aggressive displays this exact same behaviour, i.e. appearing to ‘defend’ himself when HE HIMSELF is the one doing the ‘attacking’, and the blog post here describes narcissism in just one of it’s many insidious forms.
I fall into many ‘minority’ groups, vegetarian, left handed, most definitely unconventional in the way I live my life and my views on spirituality, but if someone disagrees with me, however vehemently, I take a very live and let live view and just let it go, accepting that we are all different, and as such, are entitled to live life as we choose and hold whichever views we chose, that, IMO, is being a Christian in deed, not just word.
Words are very important and one word missing can slant the whole story into something else. Including adding or using defining words. I’m not on defensive at all that is your label. No one should feel on defensive here, I am rather comfortable. Thank you
I think it wise that one cannot identify a personality disorder of another whom they rarely know by a few statements of that individual. I do not know you! I would never feel inclined to assess your mental status. I think that is better suited to a Doctor or in this instance Dr. Simon who oversees his site. Have a wonderful and blessed day!
Thank you Kyle, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I think it opens doors for more conscientious dialog. Everyone here that has suffered and been victimized on this site and has graciously shared their story is a kindred spirit. It has opened many closed doors of knowledge and insight. In life and I believe we have the right to respect everyone’s right to disagree.
@ Fire. IMO I think your comment is slightly harsh and full of assumptions about this individual. You seem just as defensive.
My comments are NOT assumptions, they are my personal observations, based on my own experiences of this unfortunately all too familiar ‘defensive for no reason’ attitude that is far too prevalent, IMO, within the Church, and honed with the incredibly astute insights of Dr Simon, whose own website we are ironically commenting on…!
Defensive…..? LOL!! 🙂
Of what, exactly…..?
I am more than happy to live my rather unconventional life, with my rather unconventional beliefs, not widely held by many, and I can reassure you, though many have been very outspoken, critical and even down right rude about the way I live, perhaps because they feel somewhat disquieted that someone who doesn’t do what they do appears to be so happy (!), I simply shrug it off.
It doesn’t bother me, as, unlike the Christian who I am commenting on here (many of them, in fact), I don’t mind if other’s don’t agree with me, and it doesn’t offend me (or stop me stating my case, or, in some cases, simply saying nothing) in the slightest.
I don’t need someone’s permission – or approval – to live in the way that makes me happy (ensuring I harm no one in the process, of course…! 😉
Your statement therefore holds rather a lot of assumption about me, which I am delighted to confirm is entirely wrong.
– there is a difference between being passionate about one’s own views and ‘defensive’, I would suggest you read some of Dr Simon’s excellent observations on the subject, he’s rather an expert, you know – ! 😉 xx
Whoever, feels I am being defensive is wrong. I made a clarification to a request of “toning down”. Its done, over, nada.
Please digest some of the following;
“If I wish to compose or write or pray or preach well, I must be angry. Then all the blood in my veins is stirred, and my understanding is sharpened.
Every man lives in two realms, the, internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.
A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases it own spiritual death on the installment plan.
The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
The oldest law about and eye for an eye leaves everybody blind The time is always right to do the right thing.
Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies- or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
I have decided to stay with love. Hate is to great a burden to bear.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shell be filled.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall be see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their “CHARACTER”.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight: “and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation in a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that one day we will be free one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of GOD”S CHILDREN will be able to sing with new meaning:
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring form every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.
I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and seen the promised land! I may not get their with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
These words quoted are from Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and from the great Martin Luther King.
I try to follow the teachings and actions of the above, all the great people in history, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, and so many more. I am so inadequate compared to these leaders who loved Christ. Is not their way the best way, Dr. King’s life and passion for his fellow human brothers and sisters was based on selfless love of God the creator. Dr. King was not compelled to tone down his beliefs that inspired and made this a better world. Dr. King stated the answer
and Thank the Almighty God
Dr. Simon knows it “CHARACTER” too! We have the answer, now we have to find the how. I defer to Dr. Simons wisdom on this for guidance.
Having read the prophetic words of wisdom and hope and peace today of The Sermon on the Mount and Dr. Kings God inspired speech I Have a Dream humbles me as a person to do more in the will of the Almighty God to do his work and follow in the shadow of this great man, Dr. King.
I ask myself all the time what would Jesus do! Let me ask what would Dr. King do?
[I humbly suggest]: Proverbs 17:28
love and light 🙂
Except in your earlier post.
…that’d be ‘in your opinion’ Kyle, and yours is as relevant to me, as mine is to you….;) !
love and light.
I don’t know where some of your comments come from; some are familiar and lovely quotes. Others–not sure if they are famous or your own thoughts.
Where it is stated that “if I must compose or pray or preach, well I must be angry.” I think that, generally speaking, anger can build on itself and overpower our impulse to use a more effective gentle approach. Think of your disabled sister and the success you had with her. All of the tragedies that befell her brought out a gentle compassionate reaction in you. Did you breathe fire and brimstone after her fall, or hold her hand and remind her that she was loved. What worked. How did Jesus manifest in you, at that time, to help her heal?
LisaO all the quotes came from Dr. King and the others from Christ’s Tne Sermon on the Mount. You can look them up if you like. I’ll try to clarify if needed. I will answer your question later. I just don’t have time now. All well intended. Blessings
LisaO, The anger mentioned was in reference to righteous indignation. Something I need to work on, I seem to have a high tolerance for putting up with the CD’s, but no more. What worked? I was there for her, yes, holding her moping her body with cold water to help bring down the fever, holding her down when she cried out in pain and tried ripping the tubes out, soothed her with comforting words of salvation and Christ (that is what she want to hear). Sleeping at the hospital weeks on end. Jesus manifestation was to love her and forget about any of my needs, to only feel compassion and want to help her in any way possible. I’m not trying to sell or preach here this is the truth of it. I prayed a lot that she would not die, and I believe it was his strength that got both of us threw this tragedy.
LisaO, I deal with chronic pain much like you seem to. I have other severe health issues too. If not for faith and I am not speaking about organized religion, I would not had the wherewithal to have left my CD X. I understand others have their ways of surviving and dealing with things, this is what worked for me and still does. I feel for your pain that you suffer with. Besides other things I deal with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Maybe that will help you understand me a little better. I consider us all kindred spirits in this walk, none of us better than the other for any reason. Take very good care and be well. May blessings come your way and healing. I only mean this in a well intentioned way. If I could I would give you a big hug! I hope I answered your questions.
BTOV, I do understand and struggle with many of the same issues. We are both passionate people who probably share similar personality traits. I have had to really unlearn so many ways of being that got me through the first few decades of life but that ceased serving me or anybody else as I ‘matured’. The biggest battles I’ve were with myself. My physical health, auto-immune disorder, are a perfect physical manifestation of my internal psychological battles.
I admire all you have accomplished and wish you the very best!
I don’t disagree that bigotry and racism exist, because it’s hard to miss. Sadly, it isn’t restricted to the character disordered. It’s shocking to see well-balanced, well-educated church goers – who consider themselves the bedrock of this country – have such ignorant attitudes with regards to people outside their race or sexual affiliation.
But Roof, and the others like him, kill because they’re killers. They have to pick on some “group”, but any group would do because at the end of the day they are just targets. They kill because they want to be infamous, and look at the platform the media and our politicians are giving this guy! He hit the mass killer jackpot.
Einstein, the whole point of the article is that you can’t be healthy in character and bigoted at the same time. If you strongly disagree, I’d love to hear your rationale.
“It’s shocking to see well-balanced, well-educated church goers – who consider themselves the bedrock of this country – have such ignorant attitudes with regards to people outside their race or sexual affiliation.”
Aren’t these types just putting on a front? Just because they look upstanding doesn’t mean they don’t have seriously flawed characters. You can’t judge a book by its cover in reverse!
Einstein, I think the emphasis on salvation through belief alone attracts the disordered like bees to honey. It’s like a virus running rampant through the more radical forms of all major religions. All you have to do is ‘repent,’ and you get a get out of jail free card. At least this is how the disordered within these religions see things. Their repentance is going to be without remorse and self serving. It’s all so sick.
Btov, thanks for responding. I was very moved by your story about your sister. So much misery and sadness and you helped her so much. Without you she would be terribly bitter. You are to be applauded and admired for acting in such a loving manner!
…And I totally get why MLK said he wanted to anger to inform his writing, praying. That kind of anger springs from righteous indignation based on centuries of racial societal abuse. In his case anger was the best and surest way to be effective. A big hug to you, Btov.
Hello Lisa, In using things MLK said I was trying to point out the positive things he said to help this country bring equality without violence. I have in my life know many bigoted individuals and having the knowledge I know now they were the Malignant Narcissistic Psychopath. They project their hate and anger onto others to fill their own sick need to feel superior. What’s scary there is a society full of them and they come in all colors and it in epidemic proportion. Good people just want to live their lives in peace and get along. It’s a tragedy that these individuals have so many rights. Your post of the prisons is good, one point to make is there are no jobs for people to keep them occupied and to feel productive and the good pride that comes from self reliance. I have no tolerance whatsoever for bigots, I always say turn the lights off then what do we find wrong with our neighbor. But then, if you look at the individual they are full of CD thoughts, words and deeds. Thanks for the hug I can really use it and blessings to you which mean goodwill! I will answer some of what happened to me on the other topic started.
Ok, so here we go down this slippery slope again. Again, as they say, the surest way to start trouble is by talking about religion and politics. I don’t see anyone parading their political beliefs around on here and everytime this element of personal religious beliefs comes up things go down hill quickly. Seems to me personal religious beliefs should be kept personal in a public forum.
MLK couldn’t keep it in his pants, btw and in book that doesn’t speak very highly of a mans character.
Dr Simon, a great post and promoting a discussion that is very much needed around the world. The fear these character disturbed individuals are creating in everyday people who love and care for each other is indeed frightening. Suddenly people are openly protesting against Mosques being opened because they fear terrorism while the poor people who just want a place to pray are labelled. The evil act of a psychopath on innocent people, murdered because of the colour of their skin… it’s sickening how these character deformed individuals are infiltrating every avenue to ruin peoples lives for nothing more than their own glory. Their little bit of fame and their sickening beliefs. It only fuels the fear and ignorance of others, then other leaders who should no better but are so character deformed themselves feed that fear for their own selfish ends. ie taking away precious freedoms that we all cherish. All I can think of when all these evil acts are happening all around the world because of psychopaths and frankly that’s what they are, they don’t believe in anything except themselves is the words from John Lennon’s Imagine. I know when it comes to character he had his not so glorious moments but penning Imagine is probably the greatest gift he ever gave this world. Instead of national anthems played at ever event or world leaders conference maybe that is the song that should be heard, something free of patriotism, religion, possessions and just common decency and sense…so the WORLD could live as one in Peace. To me this song has always been about acceptance, love and peace. If we could have this, then that is a dream of freedom. Perhaps I am a dreamer BUT I’m not the only one! 🙂
Tori, and excellent reply, I have always thought the same when I heard Lennon’s song. So very true. I’ll let you know how divorce care goes if I have enough time to get their. Also, the Womens center offers, depending on your area a Later in Life group and have met some good people there. Smiles and happiness, its a beautiful day and life can be so good!
I had great reservations about posting this article, mainly because of the the two individuals I chose to reference and some fears I had that the discussion might go down both highly-charged political and religious lines. But I felt compelled to say something that was sorely missing from the national discussion on this tragedy, I believed the horrible events contained some important lessons related to the main issue of this blog, and I thought the audience mature enough to glean the main point without launching into unnecessary and potentially divisive crusades. Perhaps my way of making the point was not perfect. But the point is that character matters, it matters early on, and there’s always a price to be paid when obvious character disturbances are ignored, not confronted, “enabled” or even rewarded. And at the heart of bigoted, hate-filled behavior is most often a callous insensitivity, a lack of empathy, a pathological grandiosity and an outrageous sense of entitlement – all hallmarks of the malignantly narcissistic character and which always show up fairly early in someone’s development. So the main point of the article is that we have to do a better job of promoting character, confront the sociocultural factors that enable and promote it, and, as even the flawed MLK and Jesus said, make our judgments about people on the basis of character (being prepared of course to be held to account for our own character). Once again, I believe my own laxity allowed some of the discussion to get out of hand, so to be true to my own convictions, I’m going to go through some of the comments and do some editing of the content I thought unnecessarily (That’s the key word here: unnecessarily) crossed some lines or at least came dangerously close to crossing some lines while also making some decent points, just in case those comments inspire future backlash. And I would again strongly urge all commentators that in sharing personal stories or life lessons learned to avoid unnecessary and potentially divisive and alienating political or religious sermonizing. This is not to denigrate or stifle anyone’s deepest convictions, only to once again affirm the nature and purpose of this particular blog. We often make our best points and have the most impact when we take deliberate care not to go too far.
God Bless you!
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Suzi, Thank you, and God bless you to.
Dr Simon, what is your view of a man, a national figure and hero, who is a serial womanizer, also known as cheating on your wife and commiting adultery? This is a rather well known (now) weakness of MLK’s. From what I have read, his indiscretions go far beyond an isolated lapse in judgement and sound strikingly similar to what we would currently label as a sexual addiction.
Puddle, forgive me for stepping in here. MLK is an icon, a symbol of social ideals. The reality of the man, including his character flaws, take a back seat to his overall accomplishments — for me. The other thing to consider is the ‘marriage of convenience,’ factor that public figures, particularly in the past, had to comply with. A man of the cloth couldn’t divorce and maintain any credibility.
The greater issue is, does a man with character flaws, perhaps serious ones, lose all moral traction and credibility? Do his dalliances, outside of his marriage, render all of his positive achievements, null and void? It’s a good question and the answer depends on individual perspective.
The flip side of the coin is the Mafia don, who NEVER cheated on his wife but murdered people without a second thought!
Another thing about criticisms of MLK, not by you but by ‘historians’. They seem to be unnecessarily deflating to the spirit of a segment of the population who needed heroes, who required a living being on whom to pin their hopes dreams and to represent and articulate their vast and unimaginable struggles.
I’m suspicious of the author’s intent, even if, technically, some or much of it is true. The spirit behind it seems to be very negative.
LisaO. This is a good question that I’ve wondered about. What sins or transgressions are forgivable in the big picture of anyone’s life? I really don’t know the answer. But in the realm of a mans character, the father of four children and the husband of their mother doesn’t seem to be showing good character if he is being a serial adulterer. So where do you draw the line? It’s ok to do this if you do xyz but not if you don’t? Could MLK have done what he did without extra marital affairs? So many questions. I just think it’s important to see a person in a realistic light and not in an idealistic way.
I know this, I don’t think Spathtard could do anything right enough to make up for the wrong he has done.
Maybe Mrs MLK knew, understood and forgave him for his transgressions. That would certainly paint things in a different light.
So if you are a public figure in the position MLK was in, it gets called “a weakness for women” but if you are an average bloke it’s seen as a character flaw at best and an automatic disqualified for perspective partners. Would it not be so interesting to be a fly on the wall of MLK’s life? Mrs. MLK? There are judgement calls in all it. Did his children suffer for all of it?
I doubt whether any true addiction was at play there. As with many “great leaders,” most of whom have narcissistic and aggressive personality traits of one type or another, observing proper boundaries and limits is not a strong suit, especially when it comes to the various “appetites”. That doesn’t mean such flawed people can’t do good things and spearhead good causes, it just means they have significant character flaws. In some cases those flaws rise to the level of a character disturbance or even disorder, which always has consequences. I referenced MLK not for his virtue but for the hope he expressed – namely, that we make judgements of people on the basis of their character as opposed to the irrelevancies that lead to prejudice and bigotry. But as Jesus pointed out, wanting to be judged on the basis of your character is also risky business, as there are few saints among us.
Dr. Simon so well said. If I may, this is a passage from the Bible and I am not using it in an evangelistic way.
Love never Fails It keeps no record of wrongs. It always Protects always Trusts, always Hopes, always Perseveres. Corinthians 13: 7-8 I see this Love on this site expressed from so many posters in their unselfish desires to share their countless stories, their time in nurturing other hurting individuals, lifting their spirits, validating their pain, and so much more. I see it in the work you do in trying to open the eyes and educate society in how to deal with the CD. The glimmer of hope for these CD you offer if they would only ask. The creation of this site as a safe house to educate the victims of the CD. On how we can unite and make this a better world. Thank you, all of you and especially you Dr. Simon for making this possible. I pray for you everyday’ for the posters and that your site flourishes. I pray for your health and you are well so you will be able continue to your work which benefits all of society.
Dr. Simon, Thanks for your reply and I acknowledge the “true addiction” aspect as being in question in MOST things that get labeled an addiction.
In a 1991 article in The Journal Of American History, the staff at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project wrote that “plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his [King’s] academic writings,” including his doctoral dissertation.
Although several newspapers had the story for more than a year, none published it. Finally, in December 3, 1989, the London Sunday Telegraph broke the news with “Martin Luther King — Was He a Plagiarist?.” The Wall Street Journal followed up in the States in November 9, 1990 with “To Their Dismay, King Scholars Find a Troubling Pattern.” The story was then repeated in the Boston Globe and the New York Times, as well as several other newspapers with their own stories. Newspaper editorials across America defended King, saying he was still a great man regardless of his academic fraud.
– See more at: http://www.therightperspective.org/2011/01/11/the-dark-side-of-martin-luther-king-jr/#sthash.vcbQXIJi.dpuf
As far as bigotry coexisting with ‘healthy’ psychology — there is an appearance of stability and goodness and mental soundness the individual projects, for sure, but to be deeply bigoted is pretty much a red flag for callous indifference, indicating a character disorder. It’s also a generational thing. Being a bigot and beating your kids was pretty much the norm a century ago. Were all of these people character disordered? Likely, to an astonishing degree…yes. Who packs a picnic lunch, puts on their Sunday best and takes their family to a public lynching of a black man? I think that character disorders have always been dominant in society but manifest differently, depending on what is socially acceptable at the time.
Socially, it isn’t considered acceptable to be a bigot, in your own country. The injustice minorities have endured for decades is up front and discussed. But it’s interesting to me that in spite of all this the prisons are full of poor minorities pretty much forced to cop a guilty plea (whether they are guilty or not) in a streamlined process of plea bargaining because they can’t afford a decent lawyer and if the state provides legal assistance, it is of such poor quality the accused may as well have no representation at all. The accused get a reduced sentence for pleading guilty. The prisons are full to bursting with all kinds of really lethal dudes but many many poor individuals who had to cop a guilty plea.
A form of soft bigotry is expressed by wilfull ignorance and an out of sight, out of mind way of relating to the world.
How many people on this forum are aware that under former Mayor Bloomburg,of New York city, police officers HAD to make so many arrests, fulfill a quota every day,,or their jobs were at risk. They were arresting black kids under any pretext whatsoever, because they had to. The typical pattern was, kid gets hauled to the police station is booked, charged, appears in court, and the judge would dismiss charges, because they were stupid irrelevant. Never white kids, just black kids. This is just one of many reasons things have blown up racially, lately. But, most white people are only vaguely aware, if at all, of these unfair, demoralizing practises. This should have been front page news and fodder for much much discussion, but was edited out, for some reason. Then it became an out of sight out of mind issue we are so adept at navigating around.
Excellent points LisaO. What was socially acceptable at times in the worlds history allowed character disturbance to flourish. It takes a strong, courageous person to stand up against a wrong that is socially acceptable and often they are then labelled as the flawed one because they break the social norms. Also your points about out of sight out of mind, or just if it doesn’t directly affect me then it is not my concern. Globalisation has now made it impossible for us to ignore such discriminations and acts that erode basic human rights in all people across the world. Such things now have a ripple effect that directly impacts on us all. I think citizens of the world have a duty of care, to be responsible and speak out against racism and acts against humanity.
Any topic worthy of discussion has healthy disagreement there is no way around it and these topics are more than worthy!!!!!
LisaO, Excellent points. When it comes from the heart I think the kindred spirits or as Lulu says “butterfly’s” the true essence of our soul spews forth not necessarily what we want to hear but what we need to hear. I am glad Dr. Simon did write to this topic. Dr.’s work is so exactly about the core sickness of the CD perpetrator in Charleston. As we progress as a nation that is losing its battle of moral integrity and with that “Without a Conscience” unfortunately we will see more of this. Everyday, I am amazed at the new low society as a whole is accepting as OK. I believe that all of us in what we have learned here can be a witness to what integrity and moral character stand for. Sleep well and be at peace, its not an easy thing to do any more. Blessings
Dr.Simon’s comments about ‘not going too far,’ very much apropo. Here’s a short synopsis of an illuminating conversation I was engaged in a few years back.
Me– blah blah blah blah, love, angels, light , near death experience, blah blah blah
Me—blah blah blah blah
Johnson—mutter mutter, wtf??
Me— blah blah love hearts fairies
Johnson–uh huh uh huh uh huh uh huh
Me—well blah and blah and blah blah tunnel of light!!!
Johnson—Lisa…shutup. Seriously, you really just have to shut up now.
LoL. No matter how important and heart felt something is to me, it just slides off other people like Teflon, I discovered. Hmmm… A gentle way to learn, I suppose. Who was in error? I was. Even though I was in help mode I was still being really overbearing.
LisaO, I think that a good engagement is positive. I know from reading prior postings your a caring person. Sometimes what we say isn’t what we mean and what we mean is what we say quoted by one of my doctors. So many times it takes a good engagement of dialog to understand what one is trying to say. All taken on a positive note.
BTOV, so true. One thing I am still in the process of learning, is how to best hear people. I have always been far too quick and eager to advance my opinions, not necessarily even of a contrary nature. I am super expressive and ideas get my mind racing. If I don’t get my thoughts out it feels like I might explode or something tragic might happen! It’s beyond stupid. Like, great to have a strong sense of self, but the world won’t stop rotating on its axis without my input. I’m a bit of an idiot sometimes.
Aren’t we all!
Oh yes, can relate! 🙂
I’m glad that point of “Judge not” was brought up. Like Dr Simon said, this is often misconstrued as we should not judge anyone at all, for anything. But the Bible is actually saying that we are not to judge ourselves more or less righteous than the next person in the eyes of God. At the foot of the cross were are all level.
Now one of the main features of the Bible is the focus on wisdom. Wisdom presupposes some sort of differentiation or discernment. Jesus himself said that he will separate the wheat from the tares. If you were to interview five candidates for a job, you will have to make a judgment. If every time you interact with someone they do you harm, you would make a judgment call.
So the Bible does not teach that we do not exercise wisdom or discernment. But it does show that at the foot of the cross we are all lateral and not to esteem ourselves more or less righteous than the next person before God. The key to this is the position of being in front of God.
But probably the most practical application to good character is that we are taught to “esteem others as higher than yourself”
Just looked up trigeminal neuralgia. Yuk, ouch and crap! Am so sorry you have that pain to deal with. I have full body soreness but no intense pain. Always something to be grateful for! I hope that you are receiving the best of care and self care for what must be a demoralizing condition. And what with your family…must be intensely sorrowful and stressful to deal with all of that! Take care and know that we are all rooting for you here, I’m sure!
LisaO, Thank you, I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for 30 some years. Had back surgery 10 years ago and have burning that radiates from my knees down. I also have a pinched nerve in my neck. So pain has been part of my life for a long time. I say the pain keeps me humble and this is where my faith kicks in. I do understand and feel for you too. I too, always feel there is something worse. I experienced that in taking care of my sis and in helping take care of my father-in-law who died of cancer, we kept him at home. My X was an only child so at the time it was only myself and my mother-in-law. I try to find the positive and ask what can I learn from this tragedy. Living with chronic pain is very draining and debilitating and can sap all the strength right out of you. You have a lot on your plate too, and many people just don’t understand.
I think one thing we all have in common is genuine compassion and concern and sometimes, too many times get sucked in because of this good quality. I have though after all these years found it easier to stand back and see the flags I otherwise didn’t see or ignored or plain old didn’t want to see in the past. You take good care of yourself too and blessings.
Yep…MLK, were he alive today and preaching love and compassion for all — would have been considered a real keeper what with his excellent profile on Plenty of Fish. I don’t know how many men I have heard espouse the bs that feelings of jealousy are primitive and the more love the better. Right? Some of them probably believe it and others, like King may quite seriously, get compassion and passion confused.
And, for sure, one of the reasons that narcissism is prevalent is ‘self love’ mixed with a bit of aggression is incredibly attractive to women. And in small measure, a bit of narcissism might not be a pure negative.
Both you and I had experiences with the worst of the worst. Stealth sadists. I don’t even know if that would be on the same continuum with King’s infidelity. The intent is different. Like a lot of cheaters, King was probably all about ‘love’ as he knew it or kidded himself into believing. The predator that stalked me was all about duping delight and the sheer enjoyment of ruining another person. Hard to fathom.
Personally, I have never thought it was any of my business to tell others what to believe or how to think or whether they are sinners or believers or good or bad. Not my burden or responsibility or right. And to think so is a violation of others’ personal boundaries and rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They are what they are. That is between them and themselves and their spiritual sources if they have them. We are not born with religion. We are born with only 2 fears: Fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Everything else is learned through others’ interpretations that we must gauge and get cues from. We develop our beliefs through trial and error and our desire for personal truth, not personal self righteousness or intolerance. To believe just because someone told us to believe is irrational and is the core of extremist dangerous narcissistic thinking. There are those who make their own rules and interpret ANYTHING and everything to suit themselves and blame others for their failures and pain to support their self righteousness and personal frailties and weaknesses. They are the ones who kill in the name of God that they think justifies their thinking and their acts. We can all be legends in our own minds where it is safe to dwell. It is so so easy to be self righteousness and let our EGOS rule our beliefs to think we are the all powerful OZ when we are weak pain and shame ridden people hiding behind smoke and mirrors and weak flimsy curtains that can be derailed with a puff. However to keep our minds and hearts open to truth, to THE TRUTH, well that is what takes courage, that is what takes inner strength to put our EGOs aside, take responsibility for our own frailities to develop compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others and tolerance for others’ truths even the intolerant. It takes a heck of a lot of effort to be tolerant. NO ONE can preach us into believing or being someone we are not or that THEIR truth is ours unless we have gaps in our truth that need to be filled and we are looking for an easy solution. I am going to believe a hypocritical sinner who pretends not to be? I think not. But I will believe what I believe based on MY CORE of truth founded in character and integrity and rely on input from those with the same. As a parent, it was my responsibility to help my daughter seek and find hers. I may not like her truth, however, I respect HER divinity and her right to seek it and that it is hers and I am so thankful that she is happy in hers and it is founded in integrity and graciousness and tolerance and high character. I could not expect anything more as a parent. As I healed and found my truth, my daughter healed through me and is able to find hers. It is not about anyone else…it is about US.
I was born with 2 fears alright:
#1. “Where is the Food?”
#2. “Help my diapers are soiled!”
Evelyn Ryan Quote: “Personally, I have never thought it was any of my business to tell others what to believe or how to think or whether they are sinners or believers or good or bad. Not my burden or responsibility or right. And to think so is a violation of others’ personal boundaries and rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They are what they are. That is between them and themselves and their spiritual sources if they have them.”
Fire Quote: “[I humbly suggest]: Proverbs 17:28”
New International Version: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
New Living Translation: “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
Yep, I like those two ideas….keep my mouth shut and mind my own business. That’s common decency and respect and that’s the root of loving one another.
In India (Vedic scripture) the believe that a thought is more powerful that a spoken word. Chanting silently, more powerful than aloud. For what that’s worth!
“In India (Vedic scripture) the believe that a thought is more powerful that a spoken word. Chanting silently, more powerful than aloud.”
Hmm. I took the post to be about how we do need to judge, just not indiscriminately or without self knowledge. That lack of judgement allows bad behavior to grow. I think of the “evil flourishes where good men do nothing” quote. Live and let live does not stop the character disordered from acting out and repeating bad behavior. Consequences, the removal of rewards, and confrontation of bad behavior, including bigotry, are a requirement of having character. For a society to encourage character, we have to confront those who lack it and work to instill it in youth.
As to all humans being flawed, I see one of our many flaws as a tendency to create idols of others. Admire the good characteristics and deplore the bad. If someone errs, they need to make amends. Making amends goes beyond “I’m sorry”. A change in behavior is required. I have failed my own character test many times. Where I see a line being crossed is intentional infliction of harm. That is where we need to hold people to account.
Abraham Maslow did not address the “character” of man in his ” Hierarchy of Needs” omitting the possibility of individual accountability. His point was what all men needed to be “complete”. The choices man makes defines his character, and the responsibility for the choices he makes goes deep into his soul. Then too, the character of a government or institution is only as viable as the individuals who characterize their beliefs and live them fully from day to day. The charters, constitutions, bylaws, etc are only as good as the characters of the individuals inside the government or institution’s body. An individual has to find “himself”, even as an individual, with different ideals and beliefs, but be accountable to the “whole” of man and be able to provide “tolerance and acceptance” of the differences and come to the place of agreement that we must tolerate the differences but agree to the resolutions and follow the practice of compromising. Practices of cultures, genders, age groups, and economical situations can define a government or institution, but agreement comes from the character of the individual. Freedom without license leads to chaos and disorder. Restraint has to be practiced by an individual and include the respect and dignity of all mankind. No matter what race, gender, age group, or economical status, the heart must be perfectly pure to commit to the better good for all mankind. Putting “self” aside, individual perspectives or needs, we must attempt to all agree to “care” for the preservation of all peoples. What we “do” to one individual, we do to all people. We must all breathe air that is unified for peace and love, with no room for bigotry or judgement. One for all and all for one with “love” being the dominant factor. It’s impossible to “hate” when “love” is in our walk, talk, thoughts, and actions. The propensity for “hate” must be set aside for the hopefulness of the genuine desire to preserve mankind.