James Patrick Kinney wrote the allegory "The Cold Within" in the 1960s. Though the Saturday Evening Post rejected it as "too controversial for the times”, it remains as meaningful today as the day it was written.
The verse sketches the attitude of six persons trapped in a bitter cold… Each has a stick of wood as they surround a dying fire… But each holds it back so that the other does not benefit… Their motives are varied… the stubborn stance is born of chauvinism against skin color, religion, race, class or just plain selfishness. All of them eventually succumb to the cold, that they refuse to fend lest the other benefits.
The poem captures the lesson so well when it confirms that “They didn't die from the cold without, they died from the cold within.” So often we find fault with others to the extent of considering them as undeserving of any human rights. We are consumed by a devastating hatred that does destroy our sense of logic and values. For the hatred that kills without, first devours us from within.
And it is not just negative actions that lead to ruin… intentional indifference does wreck as well. It is important for us to realize that our prejudices not only harm others, they incinerate us as well. Hence it is for own sake that we need to unlearn prejudices that instigate us to being inhuman in our response to other human beings.
To BE BETTER at fighting the killing cold without…
The cold within must be contested… have no doubt!