Quote of the Day

…we see the link between historical knowledge and neighborly love in this, that even the concrete person in my immediate presence is not abstracted from history.  A human being, fully understood, is not only a product of timeless nature but is also a unique embodiment of history–of the past that has given the human race its present beliefs and form of life.  Suppose that the person I face here and now is a late twentieth-century American.  To know and love that person in all of his concrete reality I must know something about American history–about America’s revolutionary break with Europe, about the Civil War, and about the development of industrialism and its impact on American society and attitudes.  If my neighbor is an African-American, I achieve a neighborly relationship only so far as I am conscious of the blight of slavery and the long agony of racial discrimination that followed the end of slavery.  In a word, my neighbor is microhistorical–a concrete embodiment of human destiny.  If I am inattentive to the historical past I am severely handicapped when it comes to being attentive to the neighbor whom I confront here and now.  This is not to say that love for one’s neighbor depends on a scholar’s knowledge of history.  But it does depend on a certain breadth of mind–on an interest in, and an intuitive sense of, what human beings have done and suffered throughout the ages.

–Glenn Tinder, The Fabric of Hope, 155.