I used the word "humanity" extensively. K contended that I was using this word as cover for my own shortcomings. Looking back later, I could see that he'd been right. My purpose in using it, however, had been to force K to confront his own deficiency. Having once charted this argumentative course, I could not readily retreat. I asserted my opinion all the more forcefully. K asked in return where it was that I found him lacking in humanity. I told him -- "you're human enough. Maybe too human. But your words, and your actions too, are void of humanity."
When I told him this, he didn't refute it. He simply replied that if he did come across so, it was only because he had not yet mastered his own soul. I began to feel bad for him, and this served to disarm me. I pressed the matter no further. K grew more and more somber. He remarked, with a tinge of sadness, that if I knew those men of old like he did, I would not censure him so. The men of old he referred to were neither heroes nor great achievers. They were sufferers, men who tormented their flesh, scourged their bodies, for the sake of their spirits. K added with disappointment that I didn't understand how he himself had suffered so in order to walk in their shoes.
K and I left it at that and slept. From the following morning, we were once again like traveling merchants, sweating as we trudged on our way. However, I often thought back on that evening as we journeyed along. I'd been presented the ultimate opportunity, and I regretted greatly that I hadn't seized it. It occurred to me that instead of abstract talk on humanity, I should have just told K in simple terms how I felt.