Ard: Was there any sense in which you just thought, well, actually it’s wrong. And that’s why we’re right and we’re going to win, because we’re just right.
GP: Well you’re bringing in the moral dimension. You have to remember that the church is very much a part of the coalition, and we were moving towards liberation theology with Dr King, though I did see the limitations and I’m still struggling with that.
How do you deal with the mindset? Through centuries they’ve been programmed to feel superior. You know, how do you change that? You know, which is a real, even to this day, still a question.
Ard: So do you think that from Dr King and others, the idea that we’re all created equal, was really important?
GP: Yes. We’re all God’s children. I’m very religious, by the way.
Ard: So you sensed that you were all God’s children?
GP: We were all God’s children.
Ard: And do you think that gave you an extra push in these kinds of struggles?
GP: Yeah, and it gave us an argument. And then my whole thing was, well, if we’re all God’s children, and we really understand that all of our gifts and our talents come from the Lord, and you’re not using them, then are you not sinning?
See my granddaddy, on my daddy’s side, was a bible scholar and he prayed: we got up every morning at four o’clock.
GP: Got on our knees and prayed as a family, and he would give these great long prayers, you know, and blessings, and all of that kind of carrying on. And so part of my upbringing, along with my young uncles, was the Scripture and learning the Bible stories, and what some might call Aesop, the parables, the morals: that the Lord has blessed you with this, you know, these talents, and you’re not using them, then are you thumbing your nose at the Lord? Are you blaspheming? You know, the whole story around talent.
Ard: And your whole family was involved in the struggle, and that kind of scriptural basis played a big role?
David: Do you think people are born with a moral compass, though? Or do they have to learn it?
GP: I think both. You know, you’re kind of born knowing what’s right from wrong, what hurts and what doesn’t hurt. I think we’re born with a set of emotions that we really don’t have any control over.
GP: You know, we’re born with that.
David: So it’s a mixture of having a moral compass and what you’re taught?
GP: I think we’re all born with a moral compass, I really do. I think it’s a natural… a natural reality, a natural phenomenon in human beings.
David: So why didn’t the white people see that what they were doing was wrong?
You were eight, you could see it.
GP: They were just totally unconscious, and they had been programmed and brainwashed until they started believing that foolishness. You see it with little kids. As the story goes, when little black kids and white kids are playing together and having fun, and then they get to a certain age, then they say, ‘Oh, no, you’re superior than little Tommy’, and they begin to believe that.
I think we’re all born with a degree with a whole: not a degree, but with a wholeness of innocence ‒ I really do. Again, I think you’re born with that. I mean, don’t you feel perhaps God, your spirit, your inner being, tells you that? And you believe that. It depends on your belief system. But people who have no purpose ‒ no meaning ‒ do not even understand the essence of being. What is the essence of being? How do you define that? And that has to be defined, to me, through purpose, meaning… whatever you’ve done to help somebody, yourself, your community, your family. And I think you get a sense of reward.
David: When I listen to you, it’s obvious that those notions for you of moral right and moral wrong have a really firm foundation. For you that seems to be God, as you said. I don’t believe in God, so I think, well, where do I get mine from?
GP: Whether you believe in Him or not doesn’t matter, to me. There has to be some kind of, however you want to define God, okay? There has to be something that says, ‘I want my better angels to manifest, and help me, not only to tamp down, but to obliterate the bad angels, the worst angels.’
I think we’re all born with that, if you want to get to it, good and evil, you know? Unless you’ve been so desensitised, and I think much of the world has been – people in the world – you don’t get a good feeling when you do something ugly, you really don’t.