One of the most striking scenes in the movie Ben Hur was that in which a Roman legion marches by while hundreds of people stand silently on the roadside. As the last soldier passes, a very dignified, self-possessed Jewish gentleman, with folded arms and eyes smouldering with the utmost contempt, without the slightest shift of his facial muscles spits at the heel of the receeding legionary – a consumate touch. Such – in part, at least – was the attitude of the Pharisee. No active resistance against Rome – only a terrible contempt. Obviously such as attitude is a powder keg. One nameless incident may cause to burst into flame the whole gamut of smouldering passion, leaving nothing in its wake but charred corpses, mute reminders of the tragedy of life. Jesus saw this and understood it clearly.
Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited,1949
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