You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

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Abstract / California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Positivity / Seascapes

April 7, 1949 — The Majestic Theatre, New York

Lt. Cable: “It’s not born in you. It happens after you’re born.

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be carefully taught”

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II
South Pacific



Respect, tolerance, understanding, and kindness can also be taught. They are easy to teach because these are the natural qualities of untarnished life. Wherever there is light in the world or on any horizon, these are the qualities of that light.

Best if taught early. Most effective if taught by example.

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Well done. This was much needed and a good start to my day. It’s heartbreaking to watch what’s happening in the USA. Yes, respect, tolerance, understanding, and kindness can be taught. Most effective if taught by example at an early age so we can live together in peace and not in pieces.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I grew up on Long Island with Rodgers and Hammerstein record albums in the house. One was South Pacific, which includes the song whose lyrics you quoted. The show was based on Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of related stories written by James A. Michener, inspired by what he witnessed during the Pacific campaign in World War II. Michener’s third wife was Mari (Yoriko Sabusawa), a second generation Japanese-American. In the last part of their lives they lived here in Austin. (I’m sorry I never met them.) The James and Mari Michener art collection, gathered over the years thanks to money Michener earned from his best-selling historical novels, became the nucleus for the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. Two decades after I moved to Austin, I married someone from the Philippines. See the loosely connected things your post led me to put into a comment.

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  3. Wow, South Pacific, that brings back memories – I can remember watching that with my parents in the 50s! And George Floyd’s murder. His murder is horrific but, watching the film, what equally horrifies me are the attitudes and body language of the police: the overriding impression that I receive is that, to them, the whole thing was a commonplace, nothing out of the ordinary, and that is a chilling thought.

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    • It is a very chilling thought. And even more chilling is that behind that thought is the stark reality of the truth of the situation: deep within our society is a cord of racism. There is a human tendency to mock and attack what one doesn’t understand. The key to this is education. The lyrics of the song are about the worst possible education. Ultimately it starts at home. By the time kids gets to school they are already racist if that’s the way they were trained at home and in the neighborhood. It’s true that institutions must change, but institutions are simply reflections of societal attitudes. That’s going to take a level of personal honestly and integrity that seems to be extremely rare in this world. But, ultimately, it’s a matter of what we as a society reward and what we as a society do not reward. In my lifetime, the United States changed from being a nation of smokers to a nation of mostly non-smokers. Yes, there were certainly many laws involved. But that would’ve meant nothing if there weren’t a general societal awareness and attitude shift. And that goes back to a form of education as well. Some education is in School. Most of it is in the environment. The world. That starts with people like you and me setting a good example.

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  4. No one is born with prejudice in their character as the lyrics express. Many experiences in life are a challenge and how we are taught to deal with them shapes our life. What encourages me are the number of folks who eventually realize that they have to unlearn what they have been taught. It doesn’t happen often enough but it does happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. That’s why the lyrics of the song struck me when I was about seven years old and stuck with me all this time. Unlearning is more difficult than learning, but it can be done.

      Liked by 1 person

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