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Langston Hughes’ “Salvation” Essay

Some people may believe that ‘salvation’ comes to those who deserve it. Others may believe that salvation comes to those who seek it. Still, there are those who believe that salvation is not a ‘privilege’ but is rather a free gift for all. But for Langston Hughes, it appears that salvation for him is not what it seems to be. Apparently, Langston projects the image that a child’s innocence may be a way of looking at salvation in such a way that our basic senses and sensibilities are put back to their simplest and uncorrupted state, devoid of fear from non-conformity from dogma and filled with eagerness to experience what is real.

Perhaps Langston Hughes is attempting to channel across the message that adulthood or perhaps our ‘matured’ state, so to speak, has dictated so much of what we believe in that we forget that we were once innocent beings eager to absorb what the world was willing to give us. This is the point where I would like to agree with Langston Hughes. In the many events in our lives that shape who we are and what we want—apart from the things that we want to want—our daily experiences have largely contributed to our personality and character.

Sometimes an encounter with an atheist will strike your faith and religious beliefs and be put aback into a state of doubt, weighing odds at both ends and figuring out if your faith is strong enough to resist the temptation of atheism. Or perhaps an encounter with a tribesman living in a far-off, desolate forest may change the way you look at life, especially in terms of material possession. Whether or not we have already encountered these things, it can hardly be doubted that our personal experiences shares a large role in shaping our identities as individuals.

As we grow, we start to acquire more of these experiences. Not surprisingly, our earlier knowledge is replaced with fresher ones, relieving ourselves of the burden of having to carry the weight of obsolete beliefs as we go on with our lives. This is the point where Langston Hughes may very well agree: we have grown to a point that we can remember all but one—our state of innocence. It does not surprise me at all to see individuals busy with the complexities of life. After all, people change and so are the things we experience.

The evolution of humanity, apart from the scientific sense, has paved the way for more of these complexities. And sometimes we are prompted to lie or to deceive ourselves out of innocence in order to blend together with our environment. In order to convince other people, Hughes lied which made others reaffirm their belief in salvation. No doubt the believers would believe all the more in cases where their beliefs are reaffirmed at least by what they see. But sometimes—in fact, many times—what they see is not the one we or others see.

In the end, we are confronted with the startling feeling of self-deception after convening and bending to what others believe in. We mourn over our ‘mistakes’ and hope to convince ourselves that all will be well although it simply cannot be the case after our actions have been committed. Salvation is such a broad concept that it simply cannot be confined within the closed spaces of churches and congregations alone. If, indeed, salvation is free for all then why must there be a need to encroach ourselves into religious orders?

And for God or Allah’s name, where among these hundreds, if not thousands, of religious dominions are we to find salvation? Langston Hughes’ “Salvation” embodies these important points and the rest of what has been said here. Maturity betrays us in such a way that our innocence is hindered from allowing us to view the world outside the box detached from whatever it is that ties us to dogma, delusion and self-proclaimed salvation. Reference Hughes, L. (2007). Salvation. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from http://www. courses. vcu. edu/ENG200-dwc/hughes. htm


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