Jonathan Gramling
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Fabu, Lang Kenneth Haynes, Eileen
Cecille Hocker, Donna Parker, Heidi
Pascual, Lisa Peyton-Caire, Paul
Kusuda, and Alfonso

Heidi M. Pascual
Vol. 10   No. 1
JANUARY 8, 2015
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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                              Love Thy Enemy
The King Holiday is probably the most thoughtful holiday that we have in America, at least for me. It is a time
to reflect on ideals that make us Americans, ideals that allow all of us to pursue the American Dream.

When I did a phone interview with Diane Nash, the keynote speaker for the City-County King Holiday
Observance, she talked about nonviolence and the core value that you love your opponent as you love
yourself, a very spiritual value. And it made me reflect on my father who died back in 1989. He was a good

He and I used to have spectacular disagreements on holidays as the dinner dishes were being cleared. My
dad was an old-time conservative Republican from Waukesha County and my political philosophy changed
to one of progressive politics after attending UW-Madison in the early 1970s. While my mother would get
nervous — and other siblings would join in from time to time — and our voices would get raised in
passionate discourse, unfailingly we would hug and express our appreciation for each other afterwards.

This was my father whom I loved and admired and no ideas were going to get in the way of us recognizing
each other’s humanity. And these discussions and disagreements were ways for us to remain engaged with
each other, to stay connected although we lived in opposite sides of the political spectrum.

My father was a very conservative Republican, but not with the “Tea Party” connotations that it has today.
He and my mother came of age during The Great Depression, an economic downturn so severe that
everyone knew someone who had been personally affected by it. And my father served on an aircraft carrier
in the Pacific that was hit by a kamikaze, hitting the aircraft hanger where my father had been moments
before, killing many men whom he supervised and injuring my father with shrapnel. I feel that these
experiences instilled in him an understanding that “but for the grace of God go I.” There was a certain
element of luck and chance in life and so my father could have empathy for those who had not benefitted
from luck and chance the way that he had.

It didn‘t matter “what” someone was, he would always welcome people into his home. While he was
fastidious, he was also a generous man. And while he might vehemently be opposed to someone else’s
views, he would not look upon them as an “other” and deny their humanity. He allowed me to become what I
was destined to become even if he didn’t agree with everything that I had in mind.

I worry these days that our society has drastically changed from those days. We do not have the occasions
to engage those who are different than us if we choose not to do so. Most of us have grown up in the age of
television and so we have met people unlike ourselves through the celluloid images of the little screen. We
live in segregated communities by race and income and increasingly political orientation. Those in higher
income brackets can earn their money through dividends and capital gains and not be forced to interact with
those different than them in order to make their money and yet make decisions that impact those whom they
would never have the chance to know.

We have placed ourselves in a position where we would never realize how luck and chance have
influenced our lives and how these factors have impacted the homeless person on the street or the family
waiting for food at a food pantry. We have placed ourselves in the position where we view the world with
“digital eyes” and can easily view those different from us as “other.” Eventually it is this skewing,
segregation and isolation that will destroy us as a country and eventually as the human race.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood these things some 50 years ago. He repeatedly emphasized that he
loved his enemy. He embraced all of humanity. While nonviolence was a way for people to understand the
just cause of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King understood it as a call for the salvation of humanity. On
this special holiday, I hope people hear his words and understand his wisdom. Remember! Celebrate! Act!