“My favorite poem, my—my favorite poet was by Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.”
On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy spoke to a small crowd in Indianapolis at what was supposed to be a campaign stop during his presidential campaign. Instead, he had to break the news to this crowd – of mostly black individuals – that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot and killed. Cries rang out when they heard this news, but still, they listened to Bobby as he spoke of what our country could truly become if we fought through the fog of division and hatred seething through our country at the time.
Those words ring louder today more than almost any other time in our country’s history. We face an immense uphill climb today. Our country has continued down this path of division and hatred, and it has culminated in the devolution of man from our once compassionate and strong will towards social progress to a completely divided country and selfish way of life.
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.
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.
We cannot continue down this path.
Now we face yet another crossroad in which we have a chance to try and solve difficult problems instead of turning away from them and brushing them under the carpet until they build up and eventually explode outwards towards society in the only way we’ve learned to cope with things: violence.
Let us seek a newer path, the one we have traveled down far less frequently than we should, and face the tough questions around us. Let us grow a backbone as a country once again.
When someone tells us it is too soon to discuss an issue, know that their ultimate goal is not to push the discussion to another time, but to completely remove it from the dialogue altogether. After the massacre in Las Vegas, the time is now to discuss the problem of guns and violence in our country.
Yes, crime as a whole is down in our country, but the bouts of violence we do have are becoming more and more destructive. In just the last few years we’ve heard the term “largest mass shooting in modern American history” too many times as one eclipses the other to take its place. Yet each time we hear these words we become outraged for but a moment and then it fades away as we seem to grow accustomed to the carnage our country faces over and over again.
How can we call ourselves loving Christians, Jews, Muslims, or members of any other religion – or simply just good citizens of society – if we allow these heinous acts to continue without speaking out against them? How can we become so complicit to this violence? How can our compassion and empathy for the victims and injured vanish?
Maybe it’s because we have yet to learn from these terrible tragedies. Maybe we have disassociated ourselves from the pain. All I know is that hopefully soon we will finally gain wisdom from these moments of immense pain and despair. If we do not, I fear for the future generations born in this country, and I fear for its ability to help those who require assistance the most, because I know that’s not the country we truly are.
Maybe it’s time for us to wake up from this nightmare.