Hiatus

This blog will be going on a hiatus for the next few months as I work on completing the first draft of a book I’m writing and continue community organizing. 

And while I do it all I’ll go through each day remembering Bobby’s words to “Tame the Savageness of Man and Make Gentle the Life of This World.” I hope you will, too. 

– RA

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live. 

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Therrfk-speech-jpg__735x525_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscalee’s an endless cycle of death and destruction that seems to permeate itself around the world, and instead of seeking out the truth and wisdom we need to continue to live in a just, peaceful world, we cling to our fears to keep us rooted in a world of stereotypes, prejudices, and a retrograde of progress.

We build the world we see based on our experiences and the reactions to those experiences. We can take an experience we’ve had in our life and make it the very essence for our fight for a certain cause, or we can use that experience to fortify ourselves around a barricaded wall of misinformation and hate. Like it or not, we live in a post 9/11 world where stereotypes we haven’t seen the likes of since the 1920s and 1930s are now prevalent in our society. We have two paths which we can go down now: one where we learn from these hideous tragedies and come together as one human race or we can continue down the path we’re already on: one of racism, sexism, and division.

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Progress Is A Nice Word. But Change Is Its Motivator. And Change Has Its Enemies

c1b423c22e8c8a9a59a5145cae5aa4f9We now live in a society where rules have been thrown out the window. Where the idea of
a sane leader has been replaced by a hyperbole on top of a massive form of personification. We believe what we hear yet refuse to discover whether it is true or not. Why is that? Why are we afraid to uncover if something we’ve learned is incorrect or not? It’s simple: we’re afraid of change.

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Too Often We Excuse Those Who Are Willing to Build Their Own Lives on the shattered dreams of Others

No one deserves to suffer. From birth to death, every moment you live should be free of that awful burden of suffering. Whether it be that child in poverty going to sleep hungry because their family can’t afford dinner, the family ripped apart because of living in a war-torn country, or someone with a disease or disability they never asked for.

Those who suffer are the ones who grow up to feel more.kennedy_discusses_school_with_young_ricky_taggart They maintain that sentiment of what it means and feels like to suffer; and it’s those who you usually see working their hardest at nonprofits, NGO’s, within city, state, or the federal government who have suffered the most throughout their lives. They believe in the simple principle that no one in need should go without it and that at any moment they could find themselves in that same place of need.

Unfortunately, we live in highly complicated times where suffering does occur. Utopias only exist in fairy tales. Instead, we’re left with those who care less for others than they do themselves. They look to either line their pockets with more money than they know what to do with, or they’re seeking more power for themselves.

To those I say: look around at those you ignore. Look at the backs you are breaking to give yourself a lift up above them. Those you stand upon to gain whatever it is you want will always be stronger than you will ever be. They, the ones who go to bed at night unsure of what the next day will bring them, in every literal sense of the word, are the bravest souls you will find.

They will not be forgotten or disappear. Instead, they are the face for what you fear the most: progress, because when those suffering see others suffering they will band together and stand on your back to make themselves known. You cannot erase their suffering or the troubles they faced throughout their lives, but you will awake a sleeping giant unlike any you’ve ever known.

Robert Kenkennedynedy knew this before any of us, especially when he spoke in South Africa in the midst of apartheid. He knew what those who suffered could accomplish if they banded together, regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, age, gender, or whatever it was that caused the suffering. They would carry each other, even when broken and battered, to that mountaintop Martin Luther King, Jr. said he’d seen right before his assassination.

Instead of a mountaintop, though, Bobby saw those little ripples of hope we each could be in enacting change anywhere in the world. In each of us, in all of us who suffer, there is a little ripple of hope we can become even in the darkest of times, and when we merge together we can become the largest of waves powerful enough to wash away any injustice or hatred.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

All it requires us to do is work together instead of live divided, as we do today. Families in this country are torn apart simply because of their political views when we should be cherishing the fact that we can each have our own views because in many countries around the world that right can get you arrested, exiled, or killed.

Bobby understood that we are all one human race, regardless of what you look like or what your social status is.

And as one human race, we suffer together.

So as one human race we should work together to ease the suffering in our world instead of picking fights with each other based on superfluous things.

We must love one another or we will perish.

So, once again, to those suffering: the child going to sleep hungry in what is considered the “shining city on a hill,” the Syrian refugee fleeing the only place they’ve ever known for their lives because their entire village was destroyed by fire from the sky, the black man or woman who is afraid to speak up for their rights to police officers because they’re afraid of the response being the barrel of a gun, and every single person who suffers in ways I may never understand or know of: I love you and I will fight the rest of my life for a world where we can sing a requiem for the suffering you’ve faced head on and succeeded in conquering.

– RA

To Tame the Savageness of Man

There are many moments in my life where I feel waves of despair. Days where I don’t even feel like lifting my head up from my pillow. I feel like a boulder has been placed on my chest for no good reason, other than the fact that I’m alive and reality, for lack of a better work, can suck. It can rip away your happiness in just a few seconds like being punched in the gut and leave you gasping for air. And I admit, those days are difficult to get through, some days more than others.

But, when the waves of despair pass (and they usually do), I remember Bobby Kennedy. I 13239380_963425050440812_1276804681232585690_n
remember who he was, growing up the runt of his family, always doing everything he could to prove to his father, brother, and the rest of the country that he was worth it. That’s why he came off as the tough guy at first. Two things mattered most to him: family and country. When you came after either of those two he came after you, and he’d be ruthless.

After his brother’s death, though, he began to understand that life truly was fleeting and only a speck of dust in this thing called time. It’s not about living your life, it’s about what you do with it. Sure, he worked with Joe McCarthy (which some of us forget) when McCarthy went after so-called communists in our country, and he led racketeering committees which made him enemies that outlived him and was more than just an Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and more of a co-President, but all those paled in comparison to what he became after JFK’s death.

He became himself.

Bobby lived in the shadows of others, always doing things to boost others to higher places of power. Once his brother died, Bobby needed to discover who he was and what he stood for, personally and politically. Everything became brand new to him, but he took that vulnerability and turned it into something that has yet to be recreated in more than 60 years. He pushed forward an idea that we can work together to solve our programs and that government can do good for the people, that partisan bickering needed to end when it came to solutions which directly impacted the lives of those living in this country. Obviously, he wasn’t the first to proclaim this type of philosophy, but everyone who met him – whether they liked him or not – knew that his belief in the idea that “we can do better” was genuine. They saw it in his eyes, they heard it in his shaky voice when he gave speeches, and they felt it when he answered questions directly rather than dodging the question asked.

He also acted on those personal feelings he had towards the issues that mattered to him most. He visited areas of intense poverty and in response launched the Bedford-Stuyvesant Project, which many do see as a successful combination of the public and private sectors working together to strike at the heart of poverty in inner cities. He spoke out against discrimination, becoming not just a favorite son among the African American community, but also the Latino and Native American communities. He understood the savagery that man could inflict each other, being involved not just in international conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs, but also the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. He spoke up for those without a voice or whose influence was drowned out by those with more money in their pockets or louder voices to speak on their behalf. People listened to him, yes, because he was a Kennedy, but also because when he spoke you knew he meant what he said. Honesty is rare in today’s politics.

And in the end, he tried to heal. That’s the most important part of Bobby Kennedy’s legacy that I wake up everyday thinking of – filled with or despair or not – and try to continue. There are those who suffer in this world and will continue to suffer in this world, and I will do all I can to end the suffering for as many as I can. As Bobby once said:

I think back to what Camus wrote about the fact that perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I’d like to feel that I’d done something to lessen that suffering.

That’s why I created this blog. To ease the suffering of others, to bring issues of suffering to light so we can fight together to end them. We can never end all suffering, but we can act together to ease as much of that suffering as possible.

So today, to all those suffering and in despair, I say to you: you are not alone, you will not be ignored, and you are loved. I may not know you, I may never meet you, but I know you are hurting and I will dedicate the rest of my life to easing that suffering.

– RA

 

 

 

 

This Is Not Normal

Many frightening events are happening right in our country. They range from the consistent attempts and now possible appeal of the Affordable Care Act, the reconstruction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and Dakota Pipeline, to the horrific Executive Orders signed by Trump over the past few days. The most horrendous of these orders is the barring of Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States regardless of whether they be refugees, green card holders, or visiting. These are all terrifying to what our country stands for, but I read something the other day which terrified me even more than what we’ve been through these past few weeks:

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What Does This Blog Stand For?

I’ve been receiving some messages and comments on both this blog and my page based off some of the posts I’ve made, whether they be things I write myself or things I share from others. For those who want to poke fun at my anger on this blog towards a certain orange-tinted president because this blog is called Tame The Savageness, let me give you a little history lesson. So buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride.


On April 8, 1968, Robert Kennedy was on his way to a routine campaign stop in Indianapolis, Indiana while running for president. Before boarding his plane to head there he was informed that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and when he landed in Indianapolis he learned that he had unfortunately succumbed to his wounds. Immediately, his closest advisers wanted him to cancel his appearance in Indianapolis, but Kennedy thought differently. He knew at that time, that those at his campaign stop (who were mostly African American) needed to hear words of healing rather than divisiveness. At such a time, their anger could become so uncontrollable that it could potentially burn the city down, which ended up happening in dozens of cities around the country that night. The memories of his own brother’s assassination not more than five years prior were also most certainly on his mind.
So he traveled to the stop taking some notes  on the way written by his speech writer, but mostly deciding in his head on what to say. He stood on the back of a dilapidated pick up truck. Tears in his eyes from learning of King’s assassination still remained as he told those who came to see him give a routine campaign speech to lower their signs.

Now, many of those at this event had not yet found out about King’s assassination. And Bobby would be the first to tell them.

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Cries and screams could be heard from the crowd as they heard from some who called him that “blue-eyed soul brother” due to his tremendous popularity among African Americans explain not his hope for them to not be angry but to know that he understood that anger.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Bobby knew the consequences that King’s assassination could have on this nation. So he offered another alternative. This time, adding in his own understanding of their tears, screams, unspeakable hurts, and inconsolable hearts.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

Mind you, this was truly, really the first time Bobby spoke publicly about the assassination of his brother. Never did he speak about it to anyone, instead keeping that pain internal and trying to learn from it.

He spent the years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated trying to understand how God could allow such an awful thing to happen, and eventually it became something more. It became him trying to understand how we as a nation could allow such horrible travesties as letting millions live in poverty with no help of escape, sending millions of soldiers to die in wars which needn’t be fought, and how suffering in what was known as the greatest country in the world could prosper while those at the top of those with power did nothing.

That was how he came to learn of the works of Greek playwrights and poets like Aeschylus and existential philosophers like Albert Camus, who helped try to turn his emotion into works he never himself could find within.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

He spoke at length about not the end of struggles, but the continuation of progress towards making these struggles easier and easier to solve, because he knew the solutions would never be easy and that the problems would most likely outlive him, but his hope in future generations to take up the mantle that his brother, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others originally lit was optimistic.

He also believed in the same ideals shared around the nation regarding the various degrees of violence and racism in this country at the time.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

And this next line, my friends, is where the title of my blog comes from. This line has always spoken far greater to me than any other political speech of our time. Whether it be FDR’s Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself speech, JFK’s Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech, Reagan’s Tear Down This Wall speech, George W. Bush’s 9/11 Ground Zero speech, or even the incredible rhetoric of President Barack Obama.

Why? Because it calls out what humans really are: savages. We are animals and nothing more. Sure, we may have complicated systems of communication and ways of living, but in the end we belong to Kingdom Animalia of the five kingdoms and we have shown at various times of history that we are indeed capable of the most savage of deeds. From the salting of Carthage, to the slaughtering of millions by the Huns in Asia, to the vicious and utterly destructive wars we’ve fought since the dawn of time, not to mention the Holocaust, the Soviet Gulags, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and today’s atrocities brought to the Palestinians, Syrians, North Koreans, and South Sudanese we have truly shown our savageness. And it will not end there.

Robert Kennedy’s wish at the end of this short speech was simple. And it remains impactful to this day.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

While we are indeed capable of great tragedies, we are capable of some of the greatest successes and advances in history. We built countries with governments elected by its citizens, we’ve put men and women in space – some even on the moon, we’ve cured diseases and nearly eradicated ones which killed millions not more than a century ago. We fought wars against injustice and on poverty instead of on each other.

And we seem to have lost that. We seem to have devolved back into the world of savageness where those suffering are left to fend for themselves while those more affluent or at the top can proposer more and line their pockets with money made on the backs of workers they pay less than they should to. We’ve let ideas of race and invisible boundaries tear us apart now more than ever. We cling to our religions while scrutinizing or being frightened of others without learning about what it is we’re even frightened about.

So instead of taming the savageness of man we have become a much more ignorant, uneducated, frightened society simply because we refuse to try and understand what it is we are afraid of. What lies in the shadows will terrify you only until you turn the light on to realize it is nothing more than just your imagnition.

This blog was created to continue Robert Kennedy’s legacy of wanting to tame the savageness of man. That means calling out divisiveness when I see it, ignorance when it is uttered, and educating people on what they do not know. I look to find ways whenever possible to heal suffering, bring people together, and end the divides which strangle us day in and day out.

I look to put no one down and I do not say in any way that I know more than anyone else. But when the gadget in your hand has the same amount of power we used to send a man to the moon, I believe it is time to open your mouth and speak out against what is wrong in this world, and that sometimes means getting angry and frustrated with where things are headed.

Will we all agree on what is right and wrong? Of course not, but there are a number of consensuses we can agree on that need to be changed. And that’s what I’m here to do. To begin a dialogue to find them and that together we can become those who indeed tame the savageness of man and make this world a better place to live in.

So instead of arguing, reach out. We’re all here to help. We just need to work together.

– RA

The video recording of Bobby’s speech can be found here.

Why We March

The Women’s March on Saturday was exhilarating, but many people seemed to have missed its point when it came to why the United States just held its largest protest in its 229 years of existence.

The march was for the 10-year little girl who may not have the ability to make choices for her own body because a president wants to, as he quotes, find a way to punish women for getting an abortion.

The march was against a Congress that wants to go back to a time when men and women could be charged different prices for insurance based solely on their gender. Who ever knew being a female was a preexisting condition?

The march is for those who stand against the continuation of a country where men make decisions on behalf of women, both when it comes to their bodies, how much they get paid, and where they belong in society.

Will this march solve the problems our country faces? No. Will it provide a wake-up call to those who think believers in the equal rights of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community will be silenced by a bully? Yes.

This march was only the beginning. It was a march to show those in power that we do not go along with the notion that rights be taken away, voting made more difficult, and that the most private of decisions with your body be in the hands of someone else. We are a nation of love, respect, and compassion. This new president does not represent who we are as a people and the ideals we hold closest to our heart, and that love we feel towards our fellow neighbors will overpower any form of hatred or discrimination this president or Congress decides to try and enact.

This march was to instill in those representatives and Congress members in states and districts up for reelection in 2018 and 2020 we will not go quietly without a fight and we make sure you never ever hold an elected office again for the rest of your lives.

And while millions may not be marching physically in the streets today, the pulse of those millions beats as one, and together we will break down your pitiful walls of sexism and racism. We will become more than just that ripple of hope Robert Kennedy asked all of us to become when it comes to fighting against intolerance, and we will wash away the injustices you’ve allowed to transpire and grow since the dawning of our nation. You may not hide behind your white hoods anymore. We see you for what you really are in your expensive suits and American flag lapel pins made in China: wolves in sheep’s clothing. And we’re not going to take it anymore.

I stand with all the sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, trans women who know they deserve the same rights as everyone else.

I and millions of other Americans stand on the right side of history.

– RA

 

When Is It Okay To Punch A Nazi?

White supremacist Richard Spencer was recently punched while being interviewed by an Australian news organization. Now, while I never condone violence against any individual let’s look at the facts of what Richard Spencer stands for and whether the actions are justified:

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Today Will Be Difficult

Believe me, you will have feelings of anger, sadness, and despair. You may think the mountain we are about to climb towards racial, social, economic, and environmental justice is too high and may want to turn back. I know the anxiety facing my own heart when I think of the difficulties we face due to the next four years, but I’m asking you from the pit of my heart: do not give up.

This is a bump in the road. A rather large one, yes, but nothing more or less. I still go into fits of rage when I think of how our country could take one step forward and two large steps backwards with this election, but I know if we all hold true to our beliefs and what we know this country truly stands for one where we treat each other equally, with compassion and love, we will eventually gain those faltered steps back and march forward towards the progress we know our country is destined for.

There is no easy path to this success. It requires us, for lack of a better word, to get off our asses and get to work. Maintaining an eye on legislation being voted on in your local community, state legislature, and in Washington is essential. Stay educated, contact your elected officials, not by letter or email, but by phone, because believe it or not they fear those phone calls more than anything. I’ve learned this from person experience. We have more power in this government than we give ourselves. 

99 of you have decided to take a stand a ignore the inauguration with dozens of elected officials who feel that same fire within to keep fighting. That’s just the beginning.

Download the app Countable to learn about bills going through Congress. This app will keep you informed about what is the chaos of Congress, and don’t be afraid to call your congressperson or senator to let them know how you feel about it.

Stay organized. Join a group nearby you working within the Indivisible Organization, a grassroots organization with groups formed by people like you who want to enact change.

Absolutely want to resist Trump and don’t know where to start? Read this beautifully created manual by activists like Deray and myself to know what to do.

You are not alone in this dark time. And while they may be dark now, I know we can rid the skies of the clouds blocking out the garish sun and once again make this country one where we can all feel safe and understood. We are a compassionate and empathetic society underneath all the garbage currently floating around in this country. I think it’s about time we all picked up a broom and got to work to clean it up. What do you say?

– RA