The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; and an understanding of the facts of the problem - a magnanimous understanding by both races - is the first step toward its solution.
Information is strength without coordination. We become a danger mostly to ourselves when we have it. Understanding is the ability to coordinate that raw information in meaningful ways. Understanding creates a certain enthusiasm. We can direct our knowledge toward potentially useful ends-but we may also be a danger to others. Wisdom, however, is knowing how, when, and why we use our understanding; wisdom is settling into our understanding without being too enamored by it.
A crucial point here is that understanding is not only a matter of reflection, using finitary propositions, on some preexistent, already determinate experience. Rather, understanding is the way we "have a world, " the way we experience our world as a comprehensible reality. Such understanding, therefore, involves our whole being - our bodily capacities and skills, our values, our moods and attitudes, our entire cultural tradition, the way in which we are bound up with a linguistic community, our aesthetic sensibilities, and so forth. I short, our understanding is our mode of "being in the world." It is the way we are meaningfully situated in our world through our bodily interactions, our cultural institutions , our linguistic tradition, and our historical context. Our more abstract reflective acts of understanding (which may involve grasping of finitary propositions) are simply an extension of our understanding in this more basic sense of "having a world.
Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person's soul.
Understanding did not provide solace or make the pain go away; in many ways, understanding was just more salt in the emotional wound. Ignorance allowed one to fight back with unfettered cruelty. Understanding inspired empathy, which led to guilt, as well as suffering. She looked at Gavin, supine, unconcerned, contented, and thought that perhaps there was something to being a sociopath. If you didn't have a heart, it couldn't be broken.
There are two types of understanding in this world. There's the kind that comes from the reading and the hearing, and it doesn't penetrate the skin. It is surface knowledge, like a soft blanket that can be placed over the shoulders. And then there's the understanding that comes from doing. That kind of understanding is not soft. It is water that soaks into the rocks and earth, and makes the seeds grow. It is messy, and painful, and impossible to hold.