Quote: “Our past is bleak. Our future dim. But I am not reasonable. A reasonable man adjusts to his environment. An unreasonable man does not. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable man. I prefer not to adjust to my environment. I refuse the prison of “I” and choose the open spaces of “we.”
I chose Morrison’s passage on refusing to accept the current societal climate because I was intrigued by her use of “unreasonable”, usually a word with a negative connotation, to represent her admirable refusal to be complacent. When I first read this passage, I was confused as to whether Morrison was contradicting herself, by asserting that, “the past is bleak” and “our future dim”, followed by the minimizing statement that she is “not reasonable.” I was also unsure of what she meant by the last sentence; whether she was advocating for unity amongst mankind, or discouraging people from becoming too entrapped in their own beliefs. Upon further reading, I realized that by “unreasonable”, Morrison means someone who is always questioning the justice of a situation, instead of accepting the current state as the reality. I found her use of “unreason” as opposed to “reason” interesting, as other texts we’ve read, particularly Kant’s work, define reason as one’s ability to question, and value reason above all else as what differentiates mankind from other animals. I believe that Morrison chose to reiterate acting “unreasonably” in this passage to emphasize the discomfort and active resistance required to oppose the realities accepted by society as a whole. Morrison’s passage suggests a solution for the question of how to dismantle oppressive and discriminatory beliefs by advocating for active protest and resistance as a means for positive change. The last sentence, encouraging the reader to choose the “open spaces of we” implies that one should advocate for the good of humanity as a whole, rather than in their own interest, which echoes the thoughtfully inclusive themes of John Locke’s “common good”.