Bill Cosby's Philosophy Transcends Race and Gender

Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Labels: , , | |

Bill Cosby over the past years has developed a stigma from a good portion of the black community for his demanding of social responsibility. The remarks he has made in a popular article this morning, however, should not be confined to just african americans, that which he is teaching can be applied univerally. Although he illustrates beautifully how a philosophy of love and social responsibility can help to eliminate racism, it also begets a society of love and compassion - and all races and religions should embrace this notion.

"Instead of focusing on some abstract notion of equality, he argues, blacks need to cleanse their culture, embrace personal responsibility, and reclaim the traditions that fortified them in the past. Driving Cosby’s tough talk about values and responsibility is a vision starkly different from Martin Luther King’s gauzy, all-inclusive dream: it’s an America of competing powers, and a black America that is no longer content to be the weakest of the lot."

This is an applaudable notion. Cosby's arguments ought to transcent beyond that of the just Black community. It is clear that his target audience is indeed to motivate and bring a ray of light into the black community with his message, but those of us who are not african american shouldn't pass up the truths of his notion of a society with social responsibilities. What Mr. Cosby teaches here is a beautiful truth that should be embraced by all people, and in doing so all communities who follow it will be more quick and apt to embracing eachother.

The civil-rights generation is exiting the American stage—not in a haze of nostalgia but in a cloud of gloom, troubled by the persistence of racism, the apparent weaknesses of the generation following in its wake, and the seeming indifference of much of the country to black America’s fate. In that climate, Cosby’s gospel of discipline, moral reform, and self-reliance offers a way out—a promise that one need not cure America of its original sin in order to succeed. Racism may not be extinguished, but it can be beaten.

It is important for society that one of the greatest steps it can take to overcome its predjudices is by realizing that we are all one people, and through discipline, moral reform and self reliance we can find a way to overcome those prejudices by becoming an example of how people ought to be and how they ought to treat eachother. This is truly illustrative of a philosophy my generation should be seeking to follow. The philosophy of loving our neighbors is the first step in overcoming prejudices, it is a philosophy that can allow individuals to disagree lovingly.

“I don’t want to talk about hatred of these people,” he continued. “I’m talking about a time when we protected our women and protected our children. Now I got people in wheelchairs, paralyzed. A little girl in Camden, jumping rope, shot through the mouth. Grandmother saw it out the window. And people are waiting around for Jesus to come, when Jesus is already within you.”

What a beautiful statement. This does not just apply to the black community, this applies deeply to much of america today. It is almost as if a majority of us have given up the fight for a good moral foundation and a responsible society. In giving up, we wait for the end times to come, but he have forgotten to fight for love and compassion in society to alleviate the pains and sufferings so many individuals go through as a result of our apathy. As a result, those of us who are Christians, who do not take action in defending a society of moral responsibility have given up. Many times this is for very powerful reasons, as the fight gets tougher the ideas of giving up the fight become more and more simple.

We can wait for Christ to come, as Cosby says, but to do so would require us to ignore the reality that Christ is in our hearts trying to tell us to break out of our apathy so we can accomplish great things and by living through him, we can become an example of how the world ought to be by trying to live our lives with love and compassion to the best of our ability.

That night, Cosby was one of the last honorees to take the podium. He began by noting that although civil-rights activists had opened the door for black America, young people today, instead of stepping through, were stepping backward. “No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband,” he told the crowd. “No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.”

The abolition of shame is a powerful signifier that we have began to ignore the moral condition of ourselves. If I no longer find shame in stealing, adultery or theft then my heart has no longer embraced the importance of living my life by a moral lifestyle. There is only so much that martyrs and the fighters of peace can do for us, they can only lead the way for us. The rest, however, is up to us. We need to, at that point, "take up our cross" and follow. Christ commanded "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me". This is the transcending of thought into action. Christ has lead the way for us as individuals, but we cannot fulfill the way that he made without following in his footsteps. This applies to any individual who leads the way for our society, with all the sacrifices that were made by the civil-rights movement, many have failed to follow in their footsteps.

We as a nation need to embrace eachother in loving arms, but not simply embrace it irresponsibly. We need to live our lives actively as an example of how the world ought to be, in doing so, we can transform both our lives and the lives of the people around us. Bill Cosby illustrates just how powerful actively living our lives through Christ and through social and moral responsibilty can create a more responsible and moral nation.

Craig Chamberlin

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