“A Note to Myself”


My Master’s thesis focused on the work of Hannnah Arendt, a German Jewess and political philosopher. She covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who was said to be one of the architects of Nazi Germany’s Final Solution. Arendt is controversial in several respects, including her relationship with Martin Heidegger, who was affiliated with the Nazis. Arendt is perhaps most famous for coining the term the “banality of evil” to describe Eichmann and the other bureaucrats who claimed to simply be following orders.

In a lovely coincidence, I met awhile ago a University of West Indies Professor of Philosophy who enjoys Arendt’s work. We recently watched a movie about Hannah Arendt’s life and Dr. Mackenzie sent me this beautiful poem he wrote that ponders one’s moral responsibilities and one’s role in the world. This poem has not left my mind since I first read it. Enjoy it and your day.

A NOTE TO MYSELF

Walk humbly
and remember the moral blindness
of even the great.

Slaveholding theologians,
racist philosophers,
vindictive scientists,
and artists who abandoned their children.

Even a great moralist can lose his temper
and resort to violence.

Today’s certitudes
may require reparations tomorrow.

Look in the dark glass
with a wrinkled brow,
then step away
and walk humbly.

– Dr. Earl McKenzie

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